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How to share your Wi-Fi internet connection on MacBook with other devices?

by Felix Omondi

Have you ever been to a hotel or something like that where even though they provide free Wi-Fi internet connection they limit it to just one device per room or user? It can be frustrating especially if you want to get some work done online, while at the same time keep up with your family and friends via social media.

That is because most people use their phone to go on social media, and their laptop to get the work done. One may argue that you can just use one device to carry out both; but out of experience, I know ‘FaceTiming’ on a laptop is just not as convenient (comfortable) as using a mobile phone. The latter allows you to easily move about, lay on the bed, go in and out of rooms. Something you will not comfortably do while ‘FaceTiming’ on a laptop.

At the same time, you can’t really get some heavy work done on a smartphone. Sure, you might be able to type short email replies and send document/files among other light work. However, you cannot comfortably and efficiently type a three-page letter or do some photo editing on a phone. For that, you will need a computer, and not just any computer, one with a keyboard at least.

So what will you do if you are in a hotel, where they give Wi-Fi internet connection to just one device per room or user? It would be smart to let your computer get the access, and use it to tether other devices in your room. It goes without saying that the hotel management will not like that should they find out, but who is going to tell them? Right!

How to share your MacBook Wi-Fi Internet connection?

Before we go any further, let us clarify some fact. You cannot share your MacBook Wi-Fi Internet connection over Wi-Fi. That is to say, you cannot turn your MacBook into a Wi-Fi hotspot if it is drawing its internet connection from a Wi-Fi.

So if your MacBook is drawing its internet connection from a Wi-Fi access point, you can only share the internet via other options like FireWire, Thunderbolt Bridge, Bluetooth PAN, and Ethernet. We’re talking about Bluetooth in this case.

Sharing your MacBook Wi-Fi connection via Bluetooth PAN

Bluetooth Personal Area Network (PAN) is the best way to borrow internet connection from your MacBook drawing its connection from a Wi-Fi network. Since it cannot draw internet from Wi-Fi and at the same time create a hotspot. To do that, you will need an additional physical network interface like the USB Wi-Fi adapter.

Click on the Apple Logo the go to System Preferences > Sharing > Internet Sharing.How to share your Wi-Fi internet connection on MacBook with other devices?

You will then need to set the ‘Share your connection from’ to Wi-Fi. In which case you will be telling your MacBook that you need to share its Wi-Fi internet connection. But sharing it how?How to share your Wi-Fi internet connection on MacBook with other devices?

To answer the how, under the ‘To computers using’ select Bluetooth PAN, and then click on Internet Sharing. Make sure the ‘Share your connection from’ field, is set to Wi-Fi as shown in the screenshot above. You can then turn to your smartphone and pair it with your computer on Bluetooth. You should now be able to access the internet on your smartphone from its Bluetooth connection to your MacBook, while your MacBook draws its connection from the Wi-Fi network.’

Drawbacks of Bluetooth connection

You will notice the internet speeds are not as fast as you would get if you had connected the smartphone to the Wi-Fi network. That is because Bluetooth wireless technology is comparatively slow compared to Wi-Fi.

However, it does come with some advantages though. For one, it doesn’t have a heavy toll on your MacBook battery, and the laptop will run longer on a single charge compared to when you create a hotspot on it to connect to other devices.

Here, Windows beats Mac

If you are using a Windows laptop, you could easily create a virtual Wi-Fi adapter interface. It would then make it possible for the same computer drawing its internet connection from a Wi-Fi network, create a hotspot for other Wi-Fi devices to drawn internet connection.

Windows can receive and transmit Wi-Fi over the same physical network interface at the same time. Though the feature is hidden, you can access it by using the Virtual Router software such as Connectify among other commercial apps. Macs simply don’t have this type of virtual network interface feature, and if you must receive and share a Wi-Fi connection on it, you will need a separate physical Wi-Fi interface.

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