What Is Mac Internet Sharing?

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If you have ever looked in your MacOS Sharing Preference Pane you probably wondered what some of those items were about. Just recently a friend asked me what the Internet Sharing setting was for. I thought maybe others would like to know this as well, so here goes.

Uses For Internet Sharing

Internet Sharing means exactly what it says. When you activate Internet Sharing you are sharing the Internet connection from your Mac via Wi-Fi so others can use it. You might be wondering why you would do this, here are a few reasons:

  1. You don’t own a wireless router – no problem, let the Mac become one.
  2. There is only a wired internet connection (ethernet) available, and you need to get a wireless-only device online, like an iPad or MacBook Air.
  3. You’re at a location that charges internet access per device, rather than a flat rate for all devices, this is fairly common at hotels and airports.
  4. Skirt the connected device limitations of Personal Hotspot (iOS) and Internet Tethering from mobile phones.

I am certain you can think of other reasons to activate the Internet Sharing feature on your Mac.

Activating Internet Sharing

If you need to activate Internet Sharing on your Mac, here is how you do it. I am doing this in the Mojave OS, but setup in earlier Mac OS’s would be similar.

First, go into the Sharing System Preference area:

Sharing Pref Pane
Sharing Pref Pane

You will see Internet Sharing is turned off, the Default Setting. To activate it you must begin by checking Wi-Fi in the To computers using box:

Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi

Now, this is very important. When you have checked the Wi-Fi box, be sure to click on the Wi-Fi Options button. You will be presented with a drop down screen:

Wi-Fi Options
Wi-Fi Options

Here you will name your network. I think it is also a good idea to setup a Security password by selecting WPA2 Personal. When you do that you will be prompted to add a password in the next drop down:

Password
Password

Here is the deal. Apple says this password must be at least 8 characters. Keep in mind this is for temporary use so don’t create a 24 character password for your family, friends or co-workers. They won’t like you if you do.

Once you click “OK” you will receive this warning:

Warning
Warning

If you are an intrepid soul and are not afraid, then click on “Start” and you are almost there. You have completed the setup steps for Internet Sharing, but you still have to check the box to actually make it available to people:

Internet Sharing On
Internet Sharing On

That pretty much is all there is to it. Another person would use the Wi-Fi drop down menu on their Mac and choose your network:

Choose Network
Choose Network

After they select the network you created it will prompt for the not-to-complicated password you created. They will then be on their way to using your Internet connection.

Conclusion

All this assumes your Mac is connected to the Internet via an Ethernet connection which should provide the fastest speeds. You may not need to use this feature a lot, but it might come in handy in certain situations as previously noted.

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