How-To: Tether Your iPhone to Your Laptop

By now, every iPhone user has eagerly eyed the specs for the upcoming 3.0 operating system and drooled over what’s to come. But who can wait for the trees to green up and flowers to blossom while Apple drags it out of beta for release this summer?

Fortunately, one of the most hotly anticipated features for the phone – tethering – is available now with a little violation of your Terms of Service. Cool with turning to the dark side? Read on for the quick and dirty solution.

Busting Out

First, you’ll need to jailbreak your iPhone. Unlike unlocking, which allows you to use the phone on any GSM network, jailbreaking allows you to run non-Apple applications. Two of the most popular tools for this are QuickPWN and PwnageTool. QuickPWN is the less powerful, but simpler option. It will allow you to jailbreak the existing firmware on your phone, with no need to wipe all your apps. PwnageTool will give you more options for your jailbreak, but it will also wipe all your apps and other data in the process, making it a more complex install. Depending on which you use, you’ll need to read the instructions carefully, since the exact procedures vary depending on which phone you have, and which version of the firmware.

QuickPWN

QuickPWN

Exercising Your Freedom

Once you boot up your freshly jailbroken iPhone, you’ll notice two new applications: Cydia and Installer. These are basically two different replacements for Apples’ default App Store. Both only serve up unlocked applications, including the one you want, which is called PDAnet. It’s basically a piece of software that turns your iPhone into a Wi-Fi router. Open Cydia, search for PDAnet, and install it just as you would with a regular app.

PDAnet

You’re finally ready to tap your iPhone’s Internet access from an iPhone. First, create an ad-hoc network on your laptop. If you don’t know how, here are guides for OS X, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. A password is optional, but if you’re in a public place, you would be wise to use one. Connect to your laptop from your iPhone using the regular Wi-Fi control panel, then flip open PDAnet. Click the button to enable the router mode, and you should be good to go!

iPhone Tethering

Apple iPhone and MacBook Pro

A Word of Warning

Before you start downloading games, HD movies and photo galleries to your laptop, keep in mind that AT&T doesn’t currently allow you to tether your iPhone, so you’ll need to keep data usage reasonable or the company may get a clue that you’re tethering. Supposedly, AT&T’s unlimited data plans have a 5GB “soft limit,” meaning you can go up to that amount with no issues, but AT&T may flag your account and look into your data usage if you go above. Violations (like tethering) could result in a massive fee, so our advice is to use it sparingly for surfing and IM, and stay away from downloading all together if you can.

Likewise, jailbreaking an iPhone isn’t allowed by Apple, so when new firmware updates come out, you may need to revert to a kosher installation to get it, then wait for one of the various developer teams to release a new jailbreak for that version. If you attempt to update a jailbroken phone, sometimes you can even cause serious errors, so be aware that when you’re no longer legit, you’ll need to be more careful and perhaps do some reading before leaping onto the latest updates.

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