How to share your iPhone’s mobile connection by tethering or hotspot

If you need Wi-Fi on your Mac or iPad, there’s an easy way to share your iPhone’s mobile data.

iphone hotspot
Michael Simon/IDG

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Apple might not make a MacBook that has an LTE chip inside it yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t deliver Wi-Fi to your laptop when you need it. As long as you have an iPhone handy, you can easily and securely share your connection with your MacBook or iPad in a pinch.

If your Apple devices are signed into the same iCloud account, connecting is as easy as choosing your iPhone’s name in the Wi-Fi list. Click on the Wi-Fi symbol in the status bar or head to the Wi-Fi settings on your iPad, and you’ll see a Personal Hotspot section. Tap the name of your iPhone and voila, you’ll be connected without needing to enter a password.

If you’re using a POC or a Chromebook or sharing to someone else’s iPad or Mac, you’ll need to broadcast your network. Head over to the Settings app on your iPhone and tap on the Personal Hotspot tab. Then, flip the Allow Others to Join toggle to blue, which will display your password. Then choose your iPhone’s wireless name on your other device, type in the password, and you’ll be connected.

iphone hotspot IDG

When you allow others to join your personal hotspot, they'll see your phone's name in the Wi-Fi list but won't be able to join without a password. 

You can also tether your iPhone via Bluetooth or USB for a more personal network, though those methods will be a bit slower. To connect over Bluetooth, you’ll need to pair your iPhone with the other device and then connect to the Bluetooth PAN network. Similarly, to connect over USB, connect your iPhone to the other device using a Lightning-to-USB cable and connect to the device directly in the network preferences.

When you’re finished using the network, you can simply disconnect on the other device and if you’re sharing it with others, turn off the personal hotspot on your iPhone.

Of course, since you’ll technically be using your iPhone’s mobile data, be mindful of what you’re doing while connected. E-mail and web surfing will be fine, but if you plan on downloading files and streaming movies, you’ll want to keep an eye on how much data you’re using.

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