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How to Fix Wired or WiFi Connection on Mac

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path® by rating it at the end.

Introduction

If you can no longer go online with your Mac computer, there are a few things you can try on your own to fix the Internet connection before getting on the phone with tech support.

This guide will help you with that and take you through the basic steps to get your wired or wireless connection fixed. These steps are listed in order, so start with the first one, see if that helps, and then continue with the next one if it doesn't.

Network settings in macOS.

1 Restart the Mac

  1. From the menu bar across the top of the screen, select the Apple menu, then Restart...
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with Restart highlighted.

2 Determine the Connection Type

Devices can be connected to a network in two ways: wired or wireless. In order to continue, we need to determine the type of connection your device has.

A wired connection is provided by an Ethernet cable. Most commonly, these are used by desktop computers and other equipment you don't move around often.

Ethernet cable plugged into device

If your device is not connected to the router with a cable, then you are using a wireless connection.

3 Fix a Wired Connection

To fix a wired connection, it's important to make sure the cable connecting the two devices is plugged in properly, and, if necessary, to create a new connection within the network settings of the Mac.

Check the Ethernet Cable

  1. Make sure the Ethernet cable is connected securely to the side or rear of your Mac.
  2. Make sure the other end of the Ethernet cable is connected securely to your Router, Modem or Wireless Gateway.
    Computer connected to modem or router.

Create a New Connection

  1. Select Apple menu > System Preferences.
    Apple menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Network.
    System Preferences with Network highlighted.
  3. At the top, select the drop-down for Location.
    Network Preferences with Location highlighted.
  4. Select Edit Locations...
    Location menu with Edit Locations highlighted.
  5. Select the + sign to add a location.
    Locations dialog with plus sign highlighted.
  6. Give your location a name, such as Home, then select Done.
    Locations dialog with new location name and Done button highlighted.
  7. Make sure you new Location is selected at the top, then select Apply.

    Your new location will start off Disconnected; this is normal.

    Network Preferences with Location and Apply button highlighted.
  8. Your new location will automatically connect, and the fields will fill in.
    Network Preferences showing connected and all settings.

4 Fix a WiFi Connection

To fix a WiFi connection, it's important to make sure the Mac is within good range of the wireless access point, and, if necessary, to delete the WiFi connection to that access point from within the network settings of the Mac then reconnect the Mac to the same WiFi network. A wireless access point can be anything between a wireless gateway, router, range extender (also called repeater or booster) or even mesh WiFi node.

Make Sure the Mac is in Range

The Mac needs to be within a reasonable range of the wireless access point in order to connect and have the best connection speeds.

  • In general, in most homes, you can be up to 30 feet from the access point for a decent connection.
  • From 30' to 50' away, the speeds will be slower, and may drop occasionally, but it should be usable.
  • Greater than 50' away, and the signal will most likely be too weak to overcome interference. The speeds will be slow, and the connection may be sporadic.

The above numbers are approximates only. Optimal range may vary based on access point type, make and model.

Delete the WiFi Network

  1. Click the WiFi icon in the menu bar. By default it will be in the upper right corner near the time and date.
    Wi-Fi symbols.
  2. If Wi-Fi is off, choose Turn WiFi on.
    macOS Wi-Fi menu with Wi-Fi On highlighted.
  3. Select Open Network Preferences.
    Wi-Fi menu with Open Network Preferences highlighted.
  4. Select Advanced within the Network window.
    Network Preferences with Advanced highlighted.
  5. In the Preferred Networks list, select the network you wish to forget. Tap the minus icon (-) to forget the network.
    Advanced Network Preferences Wi-Fi tab with Network list, add, and remove highlighted.
  6. Your device will no longer join this WiFi network unless you reconnect once again.

Reconnect the Mac to the WiFi Network

  1. Click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar. By default, it will be in the upper right corner near the time and date.
    Wi-Fi symbols.
  2. If Wi-Fi is off, choose Turn Wi-Fi on.
    macOS Wi-Fi menu with Wi-Fi On highlighted.
  3. The strength of each nearby network is shown next to its name. More darkened bars indicate a stronger network connection.
    Wi-Fi menu with signal strength indicator highlighted.

  4. Select the Wireless Network Name (SSID) of the network you want to connect to.
    Wi-Fi menu with networks highlighted.
  5. Networks that have a lock icon next to their name require a password. After you select your network, enter the network password when you're prompted. If you don't know the network password, check with the owner of the Wi-Fi network you're trying to join.

5 Check the Cables to the Modem and Router

Whether you have a wired or wireless connection, your Internet equipment such as your router, modem or wireless gateway requires to be wired to the Internet signal source and a power source.

Check the Connections to the Modem

  1. Make sure the power cable is connected firmly to the back of the modem and the electrical outlet, and the power light is on. The power light usually has the symbol below next to it.
    Power
  2. Make sure the connection to your service provider is proper. This could be a cable line if you have cable Internet, a phone line if you have DSL, or a Fiber cable for fiber Internet.
    Modem connected to power and Internet. Diagram.

Check the Connections to the Router

If you have a "Wireless Gateway", or combination modem and router, you can skip these checks.

  1. Make sure the power cable is connected firmly to the back of the device and the wall, and the power light is on. The power light usually has the symbol below next to it.
    Power
  2. Make sure the Ethernet cable going to your modem is connected securely, and into the "Uplink" or "Internet" port.
  3. Make sure the other end of the Ethernet cable is connected securely to your Modem.
    Router connected to power and modem. Diagram.

6 Restart the Modem and Router

Many times a connection issue can be resolved quickly and easily by restarting the Internet equipment:

  1. Disconnect the power cable from the back of your modem. The power cable is usually near the bottom, and tends to be a thin black cord. It usually does not have any clips on it.
    Back of cable modem, power port highlighted.

    Some modems may have a battery backup to keep the telephone service working in case of a power outage. If the lights on your modem do not turn off when you disconnect the power cable, make sure you also remove the battery as well, then put it back in place before you reconnect the power cable.

  2. Disconnect the power cable from the back of your router, or if your router has one, push the power button to turn it off.

    Some Internet Service Providers now provide "Wireless Gateways", which contain both a modem and router in one simple device. Some users prefer separate devices. Both are perfectly acceptable. If you are using an all-in-one Wireless Gateway, you can safely continue without this step.

    Back of router, power port highlighted.
  3. Wait 30 seconds.
  4. Reconnect the power cables back into your modem and router.
  5. Make sure the power light comes on for each device. This is usually labeled by the symbol below.
    Power

    Please allow 3 to 6 minutes for the modem and router to start up fully.

7 Check the Internet Light on Modem and Router

There's a light representing the Internet connection. It will usually be labeled "Internet", or have one of the common symbols below.

Globe with meridians. Lower case italic i. Planet with satellite symbol.

Make sure the light next to this symbol is on and solid (or flickering very briefly) on both your modem and router. This means you should have a good connection to the Internet and your devices should be able to go online.

If the Issue Persists

Please contact your ISP or Router OEM for network assistance.

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If you can no longer go online with your Mac computer, there are a few things you can try on your own to fix the Internet connection before getting on the phone with tech support.

This guide will help you with that and take you through the basic steps to get your wired or wireless connection fixed. These steps are listed in order, so start with the first one, see if that helps, and then continue with the next one if it doesn't.

Network settings in macOS.
  1. From the menu bar across the top of the screen, select the Apple menu, then Restart...
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with Restart highlighted.

Devices can be connected to a network in two ways: wired or wireless. In order to continue, we need to determine the type of connection your device has.

A wired connection is provided by an Ethernet cable. Most commonly, these are used by desktop computers and other equipment you don't move around often.

Ethernet cable plugged into device

If your device is not connected to the router with a cable, then you are using a wireless connection.

To fix a wired connection, it's important to make sure the cable connecting the two devices is plugged in properly, and, if necessary, to create a new connection within the network settings of the Mac.

Check the Ethernet Cable

  1. Make sure the Ethernet cable is connected securely to the side or rear of your Mac.
  2. Make sure the other end of the Ethernet cable is connected securely to your Router, Modem or Wireless Gateway.
    Computer connected to modem or router.

Create a New Connection

  1. Select Apple menu > System Preferences.
    Apple menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Network.
    System Preferences with Network highlighted.
  3. At the top, select the drop-down for Location.
    Network Preferences with Location highlighted.
  4. Select Edit Locations...
    Location menu with Edit Locations highlighted.
  5. Select the + sign to add a location.
    Locations dialog with plus sign highlighted.
  6. Give your location a name, such as Home, then select Done.
    Locations dialog with new location name and Done button highlighted.
  7. Make sure you new Location is selected at the top, then select Apply.

    Your new location will start off Disconnected; this is normal.

    Network Preferences with Location and Apply button highlighted.
  8. Your new location will automatically connect, and the fields will fill in.
    Network Preferences showing connected and all settings.

To fix a WiFi connection, it's important to make sure the Mac is within good range of the wireless access point, and, if necessary, to delete the WiFi connection to that access point from within the network settings of the Mac then reconnect the Mac to the same WiFi network. A wireless access point can be anything between a wireless gateway, router, range extender (also called repeater or booster) or even mesh WiFi node.

Make Sure the Mac is in Range

The Mac needs to be within a reasonable range of the wireless access point in order to connect and have the best connection speeds.

  • In general, in most homes, you can be up to 30 feet from the access point for a decent connection.
  • From 30' to 50' away, the speeds will be slower, and may drop occasionally, but it should be usable.
  • Greater than 50' away, and the signal will most likely be too weak to overcome interference. The speeds will be slow, and the connection may be sporadic.

The above numbers are approximates only. Optimal range may vary based on access point type, make and model.

Delete the WiFi Network

  1. Click the WiFi icon in the menu bar. By default it will be in the upper right corner near the time and date.
    Wi-Fi symbols.
  2. If Wi-Fi is off, choose Turn WiFi on.
    macOS Wi-Fi menu with Wi-Fi On highlighted.
  3. Select Open Network Preferences.
    Wi-Fi menu with Open Network Preferences highlighted.
  4. Select Advanced within the Network window.
    Network Preferences with Advanced highlighted.
  5. In the Preferred Networks list, select the network you wish to forget. Tap the minus icon (-) to forget the network.
    Advanced Network Preferences Wi-Fi tab with Network list, add, and remove highlighted.
  6. Your device will no longer join this WiFi network unless you reconnect once again.

Reconnect the Mac to the WiFi Network

  1. Click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar. By default, it will be in the upper right corner near the time and date.
    Wi-Fi symbols.
  2. If Wi-Fi is off, choose Turn Wi-Fi on.
    macOS Wi-Fi menu with Wi-Fi On highlighted.
  3. The strength of each nearby network is shown next to its name. More darkened bars indicate a stronger network connection.
    Wi-Fi menu with signal strength indicator highlighted.

  4. Select the Wireless Network Name (SSID) of the network you want to connect to.
    Wi-Fi menu with networks highlighted.
  5. Networks that have a lock icon next to their name require a password. After you select your network, enter the network password when you're prompted. If you don't know the network password, check with the owner of the Wi-Fi network you're trying to join.

Whether you have a wired or wireless connection, your Internet equipment such as your router, modem or wireless gateway requires to be wired to the Internet signal source and a power source.

Check the Connections to the Modem

  1. Make sure the power cable is connected firmly to the back of the modem and the electrical outlet, and the power light is on. The power light usually has the symbol below next to it.
    Power
  2. Make sure the connection to your service provider is proper. This could be a cable line if you have cable Internet, a phone line if you have DSL, or a Fiber cable for fiber Internet.
    Modem connected to power and Internet. Diagram.

Check the Connections to the Router

If you have a "Wireless Gateway", or combination modem and router, you can skip these checks.

  1. Make sure the power cable is connected firmly to the back of the device and the wall, and the power light is on. The power light usually has the symbol below next to it.
    Power
  2. Make sure the Ethernet cable going to your modem is connected securely, and into the "Uplink" or "Internet" port.
  3. Make sure the other end of the Ethernet cable is connected securely to your Modem.
    Router connected to power and modem. Diagram.

Many times a connection issue can be resolved quickly and easily by restarting the Internet equipment:

  1. Disconnect the power cable from the back of your modem. The power cable is usually near the bottom, and tends to be a thin black cord. It usually does not have any clips on it.
    Back of cable modem, power port highlighted.

    Some modems may have a battery backup to keep the telephone service working in case of a power outage. If the lights on your modem do not turn off when you disconnect the power cable, make sure you also remove the battery as well, then put it back in place before you reconnect the power cable.

  2. Disconnect the power cable from the back of your router, or if your router has one, push the power button to turn it off.

    Some Internet Service Providers now provide "Wireless Gateways", which contain both a modem and router in one simple device. Some users prefer separate devices. Both are perfectly acceptable. If you are using an all-in-one Wireless Gateway, you can safely continue without this step.

    Back of router, power port highlighted.
  3. Wait 30 seconds.
  4. Reconnect the power cables back into your modem and router.
  5. Make sure the power light comes on for each device. This is usually labeled by the symbol below.
    Power

    Please allow 3 to 6 minutes for the modem and router to start up fully.

There's a light representing the Internet connection. It will usually be labeled "Internet", or have one of the common symbols below.

Globe with meridians. Lower case italic i. Planet with satellite symbol.

Make sure the light next to this symbol is on and solid (or flickering very briefly) on both your modem and router. This means you should have a good connection to the Internet and your devices should be able to go online.

If the Issue Persists