Using an Apple iPhone as a Hotspot for Tethering

When you need an internet connection, you really need an internet connection. In situations like that, you can use your iPhone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Like Android phones, Apple’s iPhone supports taking your cellular connection and sharing it with other devices. That feature is handy when you’re not near Wi-Fi or if your Internet at home isn’t quite handling the load.

Does Your Plan Support It?

While your iPhone and iOS may support the feature, your carrier and plan determine if the feature is turned on or not. You’ll need to check with your carrier to see if it’s supported. You might have to change plans. For example, those on the original AT&T iPhone unlimited plan can’t tether. That’s one of the reasons I switched off that plan a few years ago.

What Is Your Data Allotment?

Even though your phone may have unlimited data, that doesn’t mean you can share it with all your devices. Every carrier has data limits on sharing your internet connection. For example, I’m on a plan that gives me unlimited data on my iPhone (yeah!) but limits it to 20 Gig tethered (boo!)

Other plans may use a pool of data you can use however you like. That might be a direct cellular connection or tethering—the aggregate usage in total. My old plan had that, but I kept hitting the limits every month and paid overage.

Turning On Personal Hotspot

Go to Settings, then Personal Hotspot and toggle Allow Others to Join. For Wi-Fi Password, pick one that is hard to guess but easy to type. You know the drill.

That’s it. Using that connection isn’t much harder than connecting to any other Wi-Fi network.

Sharing With Devices You Own

Apple made this easy. If you’re signed in to your iCloud account on the device, all you do is go to the Wi-Fi icon in your menu bar, and your phone shows up as a Personal Hotspot. Connect to it, and you don’t even need to remember the password. This trick works on an iPad too. Just go to Settings and then Wi-Fi, and your device shows up.

Sharing With Other Devices

Whether it’s another computer, tablet, or even your Roku or Chromecast, your iPhone shows up as just another wireless network to connect to. To connect, select the name of your phone and use the Wi-Fi Password you set earlier. That’s it.

Other Ways to Share with Your iPhone: USB

Although using the Personal Hotspot through Wi-Fi is easy, interference or security might be an issue. The most secure way of connecting to your iPhone would be through a USB cable. It’s also the fastest, but the Wi-FI speed is usually faster than the cellular connection.

On a Mac, plug in your iPhone with a cable that supports data. Not all Lightning Cables support data, but the one Apple includes always does. If you haven’t connected the iPhone to your Mac before, your iPhone will ask you to trust the newly discovered computer.

Once you trust the Mac, you’re connected.


You’ll also have to use a data cable and trust the computer on a PC. Then, if you don’t have another network connection, the PC will automatically use your iPhone.


Bluetooth: Sure, But Why?

Bluetooth is more secure than Wi-Fi, but it’s slower. I can’t find a good use case for it but then go for it if you want to use it.

On a Mac, go to System Preferences, then Bluetooth. If your iPhone isn’t already paired to your Mac, click Connect and then accept the pairing on your iPhone.  The pairing is a one-time request. Once it’s paired, you won’t have to do this again.


To share the cellular connection, go to the Bluetooth icon on your menu bar, select your iPhone, and then Connect to Network.


On a PC, it’s again more complex. You’ll need to Access the Bluetooth options in Windows 10 and select Join a Personal Area Network. The easiest way to do that is from the Bluetooth icon in the system tray.

Then you’ll need to Add A Device and select your iPhone. Pair it with your PC by accepting the pairing codes just like any other Bluetooth device.

bluetooth PC

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Just like on a Mac, once it’s set up, you won’t have to do this again. To use your cellular connection, go to that same Bluetooth icon and Join a Personal Area Network. Your iPhone will show up.  All you need to do is right-click, select Connect Using, and select Access Point.

Test it Now, Just In Case for Later

When you need an internet connection, you really need an internet connection. I’m looking at your super-slow hotel Wi-Fi. Some of this requires some initial setup, so if you do it now, you’ll be able to instantly hookup later.

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