Mac Not Connecting to Wi-Fi? 9 Steps to Get Back Online

By | April 19, 2022

Connecting your Mac to a Wi-Fi network should be easy. You click the Wi-Fi icon, select the network you want to join, and enter the network password if necessary.

However, this process may not always go according to plan. We’ll walk you through connecting your Mac to a Wi-Fi network

Confirm Proper Network Operation

The first troubleshooting step is to check if your Wi-Fi network is working normally. The simplest way to do this is to try connecting with another device.

If the other device connects successfully, you know it’s your Mac that has the problem. However, if the other devices can’t get online either, it’s a sign that your Wi-Fi network has a problem.

If your Wi-Fi network isn’t working properly, try these tips:

  • First, you should try rebooting the Wi-Fi router. Turn it off, wait a minute or so, then turn it back on. In most cases, this will solve the problem.
  • Next, make sure your router cable is properly connected. If so, try connecting the router using a different cable, as the current one is faulty.
  • If neither of these measures work, you should try contacting your internet service provider (ISP). There may be a network outage in your area. Contacting your ISP allows them to investigate and dispatch an engineer if necessary.

Double Check Your Ethernet Cable

If you’re connecting your Mac to your network using an Ethernet cable, you should check if it’s still working as intended. First, make sure it’s securely connected to your Mac and to your router. Once you’ve confirmed it’s safe, try replacing it with a different cable.

Try connecting wirelessly to see if it works. On the other hand, if you normally connect without an Ethernet cable, try connecting with one. This can help keep you online temporarily while you work on broader issues.

Check Range and Disturbance

When you connect your Mac to Wi-Fi, make sure it’s not too far from the router. Likewise, make sure your router is in an appropriate location. You don’t have to put it behind a (thick) wall. Keep away from obstructions. And it is best to place it in a central location of your house or apartment; avoid putting it on the edge.

You should also make sure your router is free from other types of interference. Do not place it near power cords, cordless phones or video cameras, microwaves, or anything else that might transmit an electrical signal. Some users have also reported that turning off Bluetooth can help, as the Bluetooth signal might interfere with Wi-Fi.

Review Obvious

Assuming there is nothing wrong with your network or router, there are a few basic steps to review before you proceed.

First, you should see if your Mac’s Wi-Fi is actually turned on. You can see this by clicking the Wi-Fi icon on the right side of the top menu bar. If it’s on, it will display the Wi-Fi symbol as usual, with an arc in it. When Wi-Fi is turned off, this symbol appears blank.

If it’s off, select the empty Wi-Fi symbol and click Turn Wi-Fi On. Your Mac will then automatically connect to a known Wi-Fi network. If there are no known Wi-Fi networks nearby, you will have to manually select one.

Second, make sure you select the correct Wi-Fi network. Maybe you can’t connect because you have selected the wrong network. Then you have to click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and select your Wi-Fi network from the dropdown menu that appears.

Update macOS

It is always wise to check for OS updates when you have system problems. If you have a new version of macOS ready to install, update your Mac operating system and see if that fixes your problem.

On macOS Mojave or later, upgrading is easy. Here’s what to do:

  • Click the Apple logo in the upper-left corner of the screen and select About This Mac.
  • Press the Software Update button.
  • If an update is available, click Update Now.

If you’re running a macOS version older than Mojave, you can update by launching the App Store and going to the Updates section.

Forget Your Wi-Fi Network

Another trick you can try is to make your Mac forget about the problematic Wi-Fi network.

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Do this by opening your Mac’s network preferences, as described below:

  • Click the Apple logo in the upper left corner and select System Preferences.
  • Select the Network category, then click Advanced in its pane.
  • Select the network you want to forget and press the minus sign.
  • Click OK, then Apply.

You will then have to reconnect to the Wi-Fi network manually. Do so by clicking the Wi-Fi icon on the right side of the menu bar. Next, select the Wi-Fi network you want and enter its password.

Change Your Wi-Fi Router Channel

The router connects to the internet using one of several Wi-Fi channels. Sometimes your router’s line is currently experiencing interference or congestion. Therefore, changing your Wi-Fi channel can help when you are having connection problems.

To change the channel you use, you need to find the IP address of your router. To do this, follow the instructions in the section below to access the TCP/IP settings tab for your network. There, you will find your router’s IP address next to Router.

You should then copy and paste this into your browser’s address bar. This allows you to log into the router to manage it; to do so, you must enter a password. If you don’t know it and haven’t changed it, you may be able to find the default password by searching Google router model on Google.

The exact layout of your router configuration will vary by model. However, you generally have to go to the Wi-Fi settings page and find the channel list. From there, simply select the channel you want to use.

Check your TCP/IP Settings

Your Mac’s TCP/IP settings determine how it communicates with other devices. As such, it’s worth checking if your Mac won’t connect to Wi-Fi.

In particular, renewing your DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) lease can get your connection working again. That’s because it’s responsible for assigning an IP address to your Mac.

Here’s how you can update it:

  • Click the Apple logo in the upper-left corner of your screen and open System Preferences.
  • Select Network, then press the Advanced button.
  • Switch to the TCP/IP tab.
  • Click Extend DHCP Lease.

Change Your Domain Name System (DNS) Settings

DNS is a system used to match a website’s domain name with an IP address. Sometimes, changing the DNS servers your Mac uses can help you connect to the web. Changing your DNS settings can even speed up your connection.

And given that there are a number of public DNS servers available, it’s pretty easy to do:

  • Click the Apple logo in the upper-left corner of your screen and open System Preferences.
  • Select Network, then press the Advanced button.
  • Click the DNS tab.
  • Click the Plus sign under the DNS Server column.
  • Enter the IP address for the DNS server you want to use. For example, Google’s Public DNS address is 8.8.8.8.
  • Click OK, then Apply.

Here’s a list of other public DNS servers, if you want to try them out:

  • Google: 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.8.4
  • Cloudflare: 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1
  • OpenDNS: 208.67.220.220 and 208.67.222.222
  • Comodo Secure DNS: 8.26.56.26 and 8.20.247.20
  • DNS gain: 156.154.70.1 and 156.154.71.1

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