Make your Apple Wi-Fi network fast, reliable, and secure!

Take Control of
Your Apple Wi-Fi Network

Glenn Fleishman

Sure, you have an Apple Wi-Fi network, but is it doing all that it can for you? Wi-Fi wizard Glenn Fleishman helps you swap in new gear for better performance, extend the range with multiple base stations, add USB drives and shared printers, enable security options and guest networking, maximize throughput, and solve problems.

This product has been discontinued.

Note: This title has been replaced with Glenn’s newer book, Take Control of Wi-Fi Networking and Security. However, owners of the newer book can still download this older title (for free) for details on configuring Apple’s now-discontinued AirPort and Time Capsule devices.

Join Wi-Fi wizard Glenn Fleishman and learn to create a fast, reliable, and secure Apple Wi-Fi network using 802.11ac or 802.11n AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and Time Capsule base stations.

You’ll find plenty of practical directions for working with Apple’s AirPort Utility configuration software (for Mac and iOS), including steps for setting up a base station, swapping in new gear, adding base stations to extend your network’s range, attaching USB drives or shared printers, enabling security, creating a guest network, and more. (For help with older gear or versions of AirPort Utility, the ebook includes a free download of any prior edition, dating back to 2004.)

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You’ll also learn about what’s going on behind the scenes. If you better understand channels and bands, for instance, you may be able to reconfigure your network to dramatically improve performance. And, Glenn provides advice and directions for coping with tricky IP situations.

The book also provides directions for setting up a cellular iOS device as an Internet hotspot, and it discusses Apple’s Instant Hotspot feature.

"If anyone knows about real-world Wi-Fi, it’s Glenn Fleishman."
    —Mark Frauenfelder, co-founder of bOING bOING

You’ll learn how to:

  • Create a basic Apple Wi-Fi network, and connect to it from OS X, iOS, Windows 10, Android, and Chrome OS.

  • Efficiently swap a new base station in place of an old one.

  • Extend the range of a network by connecting base stations with Ethernet or Wi-Fi (or a mix).

  • Print wirelessly to a Wi-Fi or USB-connected printer.

  • Add a USB-attached drive to a Time Capsule or AirPort Extreme, and set up user access.

  • Keep intruders out by setting up reliable and relevant security for your network.

  • Easily put visitors on the Internet with a guest network.

You’ll also find information about how to:

  • Back up to a Time Capsule, and work with its internal drive.

  • Pipe audio through an AirPort Express.

  • Share files the new Apple way with AirDrop.

  • Set up a cellular iOS device as an Internet hotspot and connect other devices to the hotspot with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB.

You’ll find lots of problem-solving help about:

  • Avoiding interference problems.

  • What the icon on your Wi-Fi menu means.

  • What the colored light on your base station is trying to tell you.

  • Dealing with a base station that can’t be found on the network.

  • Making a base station assign an IP address to a client.

  • Finding a MAC address. (Hint, 1 Infinite Loop is not the MAC address that you seek.)

  • Updating the firmware in your base station, and reverting to an older version.

And, on the geekier side, you’ll learn about:

  • Putting computers more directly on the Internet with port mapping or a default host.

  • Setting up Software Base Station.

  • Ad hoc networking.

  • Saving effort and avoiding problems by exporting a copy of a base station configuration.

  • Accessing a base station remotely, whether to get at the contents of its drive or to configure it, via iCloud’s Back to My Mac service.

Glenn Fleishman

About Glenn Fleishman

Glenn Fleishman is a veteran technology writer who has contributed to dozens of publications across his career, including Macworld, Fast Company, and Increment. He has also written dozens of editions of books in the Take Control series. He is currently building 100 tiny type museums full of real printing artifacts. Glenn lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

What’s New in Version 1.2

The motivation for this update was to add information about iOS 9, 10.11 El Capitan, and Windows 10. Along the way, I found a few other details that I wanted to add or change:

  • I found two great tools for graphically mapping Wi-Fi networks and for visualizing a network environment—NetSpot and WiFi Explorer—so I added a run-through of each product in Testing from Client to Base Station.

  • I’ve made several small revisions about 802.11ac waves. Previously, when I discussed the latest flavor of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac, it was as a single thing; however, the standard is being rolled out progressively in waves, each with new features. Apple’s two 802.11ac base stations and nearly all the adapters in Macs and iOS devices currently use wave 1. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus support wave 2, and I expect that Apple’s next flagship base station hardware revision will add wave 2 support.

  • In case you want to adjust or prioritize the way a Mac makes network connections in different locations—and be able to choose a location quickly—I added more detail in Manage Network Locations.

  • I added a sidebar, Wi-Fi Assist Boosts Wonky WLAN, that describes iOS 9’s new Wi-Fi Assist feature, which is enabled by default. Because this feature can burn through cellular data, iOS 9 users should keep it on only if they are aware of this risk.

  • I added steps for connecting to an Apple Wi-Fi network from Android and Chrome OS in Connect in Android and Connect in Chrome OS.

  • Because you may want to buy a base station without paying a premium for an Apple product—or you may want to try a different feature set than what Apple is currently offering—I added the sidebar Two Non-Apple Router Options That May Suit You to draw your attention to a few models that are worth a look.

What Was New in Version 1.0 and 1.1

Version 1.0 of this book was a new edition of a title that has been available in various iterations for over a decade. Version 1.0 focused on Apple’s 802.11ac gear and on 10.9 Mavericks, iOS 7, and Windows 8.1.

Version 1.1 added details for 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8 as well as information about how to Connect with a Personal Hotspot and Share with AirDrop. This version also described new behavior in the hidden Wi-Fi menu, in Use the Wi-Fi Menu, and had various changes because the outdated WEP security option is finally gone; in particular, see Wait, Where’s WEP?!.

Do you have any ebooks about older Apple base stations?

We've kept older copies of Glenn's various ebooks about Apple Wi-Fi networking around, because sometimes they are quite useful to readers. If you purchase this ebook, you can download any of them from the ebook's blog—look near the beginning of ebook's Read Me First for information about accessing the Ebook Extras.

The older ebooks are:

  • Take Control of Your AirPort Network (version 1.2): First published in 2005, this is the go-to for 802.11b and g gear. Its Mac OS X focus is 10.4 Tiger (and earlier).

  • Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Network (version 1.6): Updated in 2009, this ebook includes the simultaneous dual-band 802.11n base stations that Apple released in 2009 as well as older 802.11n base stations and scenarios that include 802.11b and 802.11g gear. Its Mac OS X focus is 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard, and 10.6 Snow Leopard.

  • Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Network, Second Edition (version 2.0): From 2011, this title freezes time with AirPort Utility 5.5, which is more fully featured than AirPort Utility 6 (AirPort Utility 6 keeps on catching up, so over time, fewer people should need AirPort Utility 5.5). It's Mac OS X focus is 10.7 Lion.

  • Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Network, Third Edition (version 3.2): Published in 2013 just after the release of 10.9 Mavericks, this title focuses on 802.11n and ac. It looks at AirPort Utility 6 for Mac and for iOS. We can't think of a strong case for reading this over the new Take Control of Your Apple Wi-Fi Network, but if you need info from mid 2013, it's available.

Operating Systems Covered in This Book

This ebook gives specific directions for 10.11 El Capitan and iOS 9, with connection information for Windows 10, Android, and Chrome OS. The directions often work fine in older versions of OS X and iOS, and in many cases the book has specific information about older versions of OS X. The Mac version of AirPort Utility described in this ebook (version 6) works with 10.7 Lion and later.

Can I attach a hard drive to an AirPort Express?

P.F. asked: I have an Airport Express (purchased April 2008). I have tried to mount an external drive as an AirDisc, with no success. Does your book take me through the steps?

Here is Glenn's reply: The AirPort Express can't handle an external drive. Only the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule can share USB-attached drives. The Express supports a single printer only. See: http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/features/printing.html. Sorry for the bad news. While it seems like Apple might be being petty at not including hard drive support in the Express, I believe that they keep the price low on that unit while including features nobody else does (dual-band support, etc.) by having a quite low-powered processor. That processor likely can't handle the demands of communicating with a drive while operating as a base station. The processor (or there may be multiples) in the higher-end base stations are more capable.

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • AirPort Quick Start
  • Quick Troubleshooting Guide
  • Mac Wi-Fi Iconography
  • Light Reading
  • Learn Wireless Basics
  • Wi-Fi Gear from Apple
  • Meet AirPort Utility
  • Plug In Your Base Station and Get Started
  • Set Up a Network
  • Pick the Right Place and the Right Channel
  • Advanced Networking
  • Connect Your Devices
  • AirPort Express Extras
  • Connect Multiple Base Stations
  • Reach Your Network Remotely
  • Set Up a Shared Printer
  • Set Up a Shared USB Disk
  • Share Files with AirDrop
  • Secure Your Network
  • Overcome Interference
  • Appendix A: Configuration Files
  • Appendix B: Setting Up a Software Base Station
  • Appendix C: Channels Explained
  • Appendix D: What and Where Is a MAC Address?
  • About This Book
  • How To Deal with a KRACK Attack

    Posted by Glenn Fleishman on October 24, 2017

    You may have seen the news about KRACK, a Wi-Fi exploit that can allow a determined invader to sniff traffic on your network encrypted with the latest and greatest WPA2 protection and decipher some or all of it. There’s a reason to be concerned: it affects every Wi-Fi radio ever made that uses WPA2, which is all of them since about 2003. However, in practice, someone has to be close to your network and use cracking software that doesn’t yet exist: the researcher who discovered the set of flaws exercised responsible disclosure, and thus malicious parties still have to figure out how to take advantage of these defects.

    The flaws largely exist on the client side, so operating system and firmware updates on computers, phone, tablets, gaming devices, smarthome switches, and other equipment will take care of the problem. Base stations will be updated, too, preventing misuse of any device (even an unpatched piece of equipment) on updated networks.

    What do you need to do? Apple already has updates in the latest betas for all its operating systems that will prevent these attacks from being used. iOS 10 and earlier users who can’t update or don’t want to will be in an awkward position, however, because their devices will remain vulnerable on networks that have unpatched or non-upgradable access points. Read more about this in my article at TidBITS, “Wi-Fi Security Flaw Not As Bad As It’s KRACKed Up To Be.”

    March 29, 2017 - At this time, we have no plans to update this book. These plans could change if Apple alters their direction on Wi-Fi products in their product line.

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