Whether you’re out of the office and need to download a large file or are simply looking for a way to watch a video without using up all your data on your lunch break, you’ve probably considered connecting to a free Wi-Fi network. Sometimes, though, you aren’t within range of a trustworthy Wi-Fi network (or aren’t comfortable logging on to one), and you still need to get on the Internet on your computer or tablet. The solution? Use a mobile hotspot on an iPhone or capable iPad to connect your other devices.
Using the Personal Hotspot feature on your iPhone or iPad (if you have an iPad with cellular connectivity) requires just a few simple steps. As Apple’s support page explains, you’ll need to set a Wi-Fi password to set up a mobile hotspot. You can set or change the Wi-Fi password by opening the Settings app, tapping Personal Hotspot (or Cellular and then Personal Hotspot), and then tapping the Wi-Fi password. You should choose a Wi-Fi password that’s at least eight characters long and uses ASCII characters. (If you use non-ASCII characters, including characters in Japanese, Russian, Chinese, and other languages, other devices will be unable to join your mobile hotspot.) ASCII characters include all of the letters in English, both lowercase and uppercase, the digits 0 through 9, and some punctuation marks.
To set up a mobile hotspot on your iPhone or iPad, open the Settings app and navigate to the Cellular section. From there, tap Personal Hotspot and turn it on. (You can also find the mobile hotspot settings simply by tapping Personal Hotspot in the first screen of the Settings app, if it appears there.) After you set up a mobile hotspot, you can go to the Settings app again to turn it on or off, or to change your password. If you don’t see an option to turn on Personal Hotspot, you can contact your carrier to ask if you can use the feature with your plan.
You can use Personal Hotspot on one iOS device to provide Internet access to another iOS device. To go online on your iPad using the Personal Hotspot on your iPhone, open the Settings app on your iPad and navigate to the Wi-Fi section. Then, tap the network named for your iPhone under Personal Hotspots. You can also use a mobile hotspot on your iOS device to provide an Internet connection to your Mac. Open the Wi-Fi menu at the top of your Mac screen, and then select the network that’s named for your iOS device.
When you’re connecting a device to your mobile hotspot, you can use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB. To connect your computer or other device to the hotspot on your iOS device using Wi-Fi, choose the network named for your iPhone in the Wi-Fi settings on your computer, and enter the password when prompted. To connect using Bluetooth, pair your iPhone with your computer, and on your iPhone, tap “Pair” or enter the code displayed on your computer. Then, connect to the iPhone from your computer. Finally, to connect using USB, plug your iPhone into your computer, and then choose your iPhone from the list of network services in your settings.
If you’re using iOS 8 or later, you can use Apple’s Instant Hotspot feature, which uses Continuity to enable you to share your data connection without having to turn on Personal Hotspot first. To use Instant Hotspot, sign in to the same Apple ID on each of your devices. When you connect a device to your mobile hotspot, the status bar will turn blue and show how many devices have changed. The number of devices that can join your mobile hotspot at one time depends on your carrier and your iPhone model, and if other devices have joined the hotspot using Wi-Fi, you can use only cellular data to connect to the Internet from the host device. To disconnect a device from your mobile hotspot, turn off Personal Hotspot, turn off Bluetooth, or unplug the USB cable from your device.