Sometimes it can be very handy to create your own wireless network right from your Mac.  Why would you want to do that you ask?  To really understand why, you need to know how to use your Mac as a personal hotspot.

On holiday in a foreign country, I had my iPhone with me and my laptop.  Some of my family members also had iPhones and iPads with them.  We were staying in a hotel which did have Wifi access to the internet but it was pretty expensive on a daily basis and was limited to one device at a time.  So I got to thinking.......

I ran down to the nearest mobile phone store and bought myself a local SIM with data for internet access.  That was pretty cheap and gave me 30 days practically unlimited data.  I activated the SIM and stuck it in my iPhone.  Within a few minutes I had internet on my iPhone (I don't use data-roaming for internet, ever).  That was step 1.

I then connected my iPhone to my laptop via the USB cable and within about 30 seconds I now had internet on my Mac.  Great!  Making progress.  Now the final step.  I have a load of wifi devices all queueing up begging for internet.  Family members drooling with jealousy over my internet connection.  So I just created a Wifi network and let them connect via my Mac.  How?  Let me show you.....

First, I went to the airport menu on my Mac and I chose the Create Network... option.  I was then presented with the following window:

create_network

I did, in fact, use security on my connection, but for the sake of simplicity I will leave the security setting on None.  This means that you will not be asked for a password to connect to this network, but in a public place it would be better to enable one.

What this does is actually create a new wireless network that any wireless device can connect to.  But for now, it only gives access to my computer.  What I want is for those devices to be able to connect to the internet through my computer.  Bring on Step 2!

Next, I hit the Apple Menu in the top left corner of your screen and chose System Preferences followed by the Sharing panel.  The I selected Internet Sharing in the list on the left hand side.  At this stage, you will see a popup list on the right which says "Share your connection from:".  In this list, you need to select iPhone USB which is where you are getting your internet connection from right now.

Below this popup list, you will see another list which says "To computers using:" - in this list you need to choose Wifi.  Finally, click the little checkbox to the left of Internet Sharing in the left hand list to activate Internet Sharing.

What you have now done is you have created a wireless network which any wireless device can connect to and you have bridged that with your iPhone's internet connection through the USB port.  Now all you have to do is go to any of your wireless devices such as iPhones, iPads and laptops and choose the wireless network that you selected above.  The next thing you know............. you're on the internet!

I successfully used this method to simultaneously connect 5 wireless devices to the internet via my iPhone's 3G connection provided by the SIM I bought locally and it worked beautifully for the 5 days that we spent there.  So there you have it.  Now you know how to use your Mac as a personal hotspot.  I love my Mac 🙂 And my iPhone of course!