How to fix problems with your MacBook’s Wi-Fi

Since Wi-Fi is a vital part of today’s MacBook experience, connection problems are serious business. We know you want to get back online right away, whether it’s to turn in an important report or catch up on the latest streaming episode.

Here’s a guide on what to do to get your MacBook back on the network quickly and fix what went wrong. Take a look and find the solutions that fit your problem!

Run wireless diagnostics

Mac Wireless Diagnostics

Modern versions of MacOS (since around Mountain Lion times) have a diagnostic tool built it to check the wireless network. Start by running this tool: Hold down the “Option” key and select the Wi-Fi icon in the upper-right corner of your screen. Then select the “Open Wireless Diagnostics” option that has appeared there. Enter your login password if necessary, and wait for the diagnostics to complete.

When given a choice head to the summary of the diagnostics. Select the blue “i” button next to each summary note to learn more, and see if any of the notes include an important error or failure that you can note when pursuing solutions. If the diagnostics tool finds a major problem, it may stop diagnostics entirely and give you a pop-up window instead with a valuable description of what’s going wrong.

Check your Wi-Fi connection and restart

modem vs router plugging in
Piotr Adamowicz

Is the Wi-Fi acting poorly for other devices, too? That’s a good sign that the network itself is at fault. It’s a good idea to start with a router inspection to see if anything is wrong. Do a physical inspection of the cables to make sure connections are secure. And make any changes if necessary.

Then you can reset your router to see if this helps fix your problem. Resetting a router can fix all sorts of issues, including problems with router updates, dropped connections, and lost connections with hard-line internet. Remember to unplug your router from the modem before you begin, and wait for a little while before turning your router back on to make sure the reset is a success.

Update MacOS and other software

best laptops for video editing macbook pro 15 3

Have you recently updated MacOS? Sometimes, new updates can cause connection problems. In this case, you can roll back the update and wait: Wi-Fi problems in updates are, for obvious reasons, quickly patched. Tt should be no more than a day or so before you can update safely.

However, an update can frequently fix any problems you may be having with Wi-Fi problems, particularly if it’s been a while since you have updated your computer. So, check MacOS for any updates that haven’t yet been implemented, and see if your Mac recommends updating any router devices.

Change preferred order of services

Wi-Fi Service Order

Head over to “System Preferences in your Dock, and select Network. This gives you a closer look at your Wi-Fi settings and the network that you are trying to connect to. This screen can help you if you want to create a new Wi-Fi network or turn your Wi-Fi detection off and on again, but there’s something else you should try here as well.

On the left side, at the bottom of the list of detected Wi-Fi devices, look for the lock icon, and unlock it if necessary (your password will be required for this). Then, right above it, select the gear-shaped settings icon, and choose “Set Service Order.” Here, simply make sure that the Wi-Fi network you are trying to connect to is on top. If other devices are before it, then your Mac may not be giving that router enough attention.

Check your TCP/IP settings


Search for the “Network Utility” app and open it up. This contains all sorts of information about your network, and can help you track down problems with your Wi-Fi. Once Network Utility is open, you can use “Info” to look at router settings and send/receive errors, which may help you see what’s going on. To check on configurations, head to the TCP/IP tab.

If you don’t see your IPv4 address here, or something else seems unusual, select “Renew DHCP Lease” which offers a basic reset of your network connections.

If this doesn’t work, try contacting a network administrator or looking up your local ISP information to check what the settings should be in the TCP/IP and DNS tabs, and change the information accordingly: This is rarely a problem with modern networks, but sometimes you have to go in and manually make sure that all your settings are correct.

Remove all your accessories

macbook usb type c
Maurizio Pesce/Flickr

We know it sounds weird, but your accessories could be blocking your Wi-Fi signal. This may be even more common on newer Macs with USB 3.0 and Type-C ports, which may be creating opposing signals that interfere with the Wi-Fi signal. The best way to test this out is simply unplug your peripheral devices and reboot your Wi-Fi to see if you can connect. If this works, try to narrow down what specific connection is messing up your Wi-Fi.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do except avoid using that particular device on your Mac, or only using it when you don’t need to connect to the internet.


Windows is getting a face-lift in 2020, but you can get a sneak peek right now

Microsoft is increasing the lead time for an upcoming major update to Windows 10, giving Windows Insiders the ability to test it right now, even though it's not set for release until 2020.

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.

Tight on space? Here’s how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a computer

Never lose any of your cherished selfies or family vacation photos from your iPhone again by learning how to transfer photos from your iPhone to a computer, whether you want to use a cable or wireless transfer.

Forgot your Android password or PIN? Here’s what you need to do

It’s a horrible feeling when you forget your Android password, PIN, or pattern and can’t access your smartphone. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to gain access to your device. Find out what your options are right here.

Stop your PC's vow of silence with these tips on how to fix audio problems

Sound problems got you down? Don't worry, with a few tweaks and tricks we'll get your sound card functioning as it should, and you listening to your favorite tunes and in-game audio in no time.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website Here's how the impressive A.I. works.

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…

Keep your MacBook safe and dry with an Under Armour backpack for under $50

Under Armour is having a huge sale this weekend to help you on your quest for a better backpack. The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on now through Monday, February 18th, offering great discounts on stormproof backpacks.

Walmart Presidents’ Day sale: Instant Pot, Google Home, and 4K TV deals

Presidents' Day weekend is one of the best times of the year to find deep discounts on 4K TVs, laptops, Instant Pots, clothes, mattresses, and furniture. And Walmart is offering deals on all of those things and more.

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.

Wi-Fi helps connect all of our devices at high-speed, but what exactly is it?

What is Wi-Fi? It's a technology we all use everyday to connect all of our portable devices, but understanding how it works and how far it's come from its humble beginnings is another thing entirely.

In the age of Alexa and Siri, Cortana’s halo has grown dim

In a sea of voice assistants, Cortana has become almost irrelevant. The nearly five-year-old voice assistant is seeing little love from consumers, and here’s why it is dead.