How to fix Wi-Fi connection problems on a Mac

When Wi-Fi stops working on a Mac, it can be a nightmare. All of a sudden, you can’t make progress or even start on something without an internet connection.

Most of us take the always-on Wi-Fi connectivity for granted. Even when traveling thousands of miles from home in developing countries, most businesses, homes, and even public spaces are equipped with modems that broadcast wireless internet.

How to fix Mac won't connect to Wi-Fi

In many respects, Wi-Fi has become a commodity, a necessity for the smooth functioning of business, academia, governments, and the media. Thanks to Wi-Fi, we are more connected than ever before. Our music, emails, and even shopping are dependent upon it.

So if you’ve ever had Wi-Fi connectivity issues on a Mac, you might want to save this article for offline reading, just in case. There are a few ways to these problems.

1. Check your macOS

When Mac users update their operating system, Wi-Fi connectivity can vanish.

At the time of the original version of El Capitan, a lot of users found they couldn't connect to Wi-Fi, which made it harder for Apple to release an update that included a patch solving this particular problem. In some cases, users had to download the updated version using a phone as a Personal Hotspot, which caused other problems, such as extra data costs.

Unfortunately, as a result of the recent macOS High Sierra release, some users were experiencing the same problem.

One way to fix this is to switch your Wi-Fi off and back on again. At the same time, it may also be worth changing the name of your home (or office) network and setting a new password, which you can do through your internet provider. If necessary, you should be able to do this through a mobile phone, and then check whether your Mac will connect again.

2. Wi-Fi signal issues

Another way to work out whether the problem is the Mac or Wi-Fi itself is using an analyzer app. To analyze your Wi-Fi network signal strength, use WiFi Explorer or NetSpot.

You may find that furniture and walls in your place are blocking or reducing the signal. When you are checking the results, it might be helpful to move your wireless router to a better location or ask if your broadband provider can install a signal booster.

3. Contact your broadband provider

Run a speed test on your internet. You can do this through various apps, or your broadband provider should have a speed testing function within wireless routers or your customer account portal. Increasing the speed, or switching to a faster provider, could be the solution to Wi-Fi connectivity problems, providing you’ve tried everything else first.

4. Forget your Wi-Fi network

Sometimes you need to let go to reconnect again. That also works for Wi-Fi signals.

Assuming you’ve already tried rebooting your Mac and router, disconnecting entirely is a tried-and-tested solution.

Here are the steps for doing this slightly trickier fix:

  1. Turn off Airport
  2. Go to Systems Preferences
  3. Network > Select Wi-Fi
  4. Click Advanced
  5. Select the network you want to disconnect from and click on minus, then agree.

Do that on any other device you can’t connect with, and then start the process to connect to that network, entering the password, and (fingers crossed) you should be connected again.

5. Finally, declutter your Mac

One of the other problems that could be causing connectivity issues is bloat, junk, and clutter. Over time, Macs can get full of things they really don't need to store, such as cache files, email downloads, browser extensions and viruses. All of these slow down and overheat Macs, which could impact your connectivity as well.

Clean up your desktop with Declutter app

Then, use CleanMyMac to clean up your macOS. This app is an effective solution and much-needed antidote to slow Mac performance. You can use it to dig up junk cluttering up Macs, delete unused apps completely, tidy up email folders and attachments, and remove plugins you don't need. It can shred trash, clear caches, and declutter disks and hard drives so that your Mac is operating at peak performance again. It also includes health monitors, so you can avoid similar issues in the future.

Prepare beforehand

Given you’ve already saved this article for offline reading, it might also be a good idea to download all the apps mentioned above, so you don’t have to use your phone’s data when the Wi-Fi crisis hit, which, hopefully, it never will.