To set up a Mac or Windows laptop as a wireless router, you can use an app that does it all for you or set it up manually within the operating system. Using your Mac as a hotspot tends to cut Wi-Fi off because it needs to use the component as the Wireless Local Area Connection (WLAN). Mobile phones do the same thing. However, Windows 10/11 offers a Wi-Fi Direct Virtual Adapter that allows the Wi-Fi to continue working on the desktop or laptop. This setting is an excellent feature that many people use, some more than others.
For Macs, you need an external USB Wi-Fi adapter or an ethernet connection to create a hotspot.
For Windows, all you need to do is turn the hotspot on for everything to work.
Regardless, ethernet is the best option, mainly because it’s faster and more reliable as a source. You also use ethernet on Windows 10/11 if you want.
This article explains how to create a hotspot using an ethernet connection or Wi-Fi on Windows 8, 10, 11, or macOS. Let’s get started!
Using A Laptop as a Wired Router in Windows 10 and 11
If you use Windows 10 or 11, you can turn your laptop into a Wi-Fi hotspot with ease, thanks to the pre-included virtual device and settings. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update added the ability to share your network connection while maintaining the one on the laptop or desktop. Windows 11 includes it out of the box. Here’s what you do.
- Open the “Settings” menu in Windows 10 or 11.
- Select “Network & Internet” from the grouped menu options if not already present, then click on “Mobile hotspot” from the left menu.
- Toggle “Share my Internet connection with other devices” to on.
- Turn on the Wi-Fi on the other device (if not already active) and search for network.
- Join the network created by your laptop. The network name is listed in the “Share my internet connection” window.
- Type the network password on the other device, which is also listed on the “Share my internet connection” window, then tap on “Connect.”
You should now be able to access the internet using your laptop as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Using A Laptop as a Wired Router in Windows 8
If you use Windows 8, you can still create a Wi-Fi hotspot, but it takes a little more configuring than it does on Windows 10 or 11.
- Navigate to “Control Panel > Network Connections.”
- Right-click your Wi-Fi adapter and select “Properties.”
- Select the “Sharing” tab, check the box next to “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection,” then click on “OK.”
- Open the Command Prompt as administrator.
- Type the following: netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=”<YOURSSID>” key=”<PASSWORD>” and , press “Enter.” <YOURSSID> is the network name and <PASSWORD> is the network password.
- Now, type: netsh wlan start hostednetwork and press “Enter.”
- Then, type: netsh wlan show hostednetwork to check that everything is functioning correctly.
You should now be able to join that Windows 8 network on your other device. Search and connect, as usual, entering the SSID and password when prompted.
Windows 8, 10, or 11 Hotspot Not Working?
If you try to use your Windows 8 or Windows 10 laptop as a wireless router and it fails to work, there could be several reasons why. Here are the most common windows hotspot problems.
Problem #1: Bad Network Cable Connection
A cable can look good on the outside but be damaged on the inside, especially since the wires are fragile and thin, and the ends can come loose or wear out.
Problem #2: Old Router
An old router that is barely compatible with your laptop’s Wi-Fi hardware and drivers can disconnect or not connect at all whenever you use a second Wi-Fi adapter for your internet source.
Problem #3: Tethering from Your Smartphone
When using your Android phone or iPhone as a tethering device in windows 8 or 10, it does not get identified as an internet source under some applications or drivers. Yeah, it works, but some aspects of Windows do not recognize the USB ethernet as being a valid internet connection, even though it is to some degree. This scenario occurs because tethering apps like pdaNet and EasyTether do not offer automatic IP addressing or managing multiple IPs compared to the PC’s Wi-Fi features and your phone’s built-in hotspot functions. So, Windows gets confused due to communication and data exchange restrictions. After all, tethering was designed to connect to one device only.
It is important to note that you CAN share your ethernet connection when using third-party app options. For instance, pdaNet offers Wi-Fi direct (a hotspot using your phone’s data signal), Wi-Fi Share that automatically sets up a hotspot in your connected laptop using the existing tether connection, and Bluetooth internet functions.
For Wi-Fi sharing with Samsung smartphones, see the article about using Wifi-Hotspot on Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus.
Use an Apple Laptop as a Wireless Router
If you want to use a MacBook or MacBook Pro as a Wi-Fi hotspot, you can. The limitations found in Windows 8 and 10 also apply to MacBooks. It requires an ethernet connection to supply the internet and the Wi-Fi adapter for the hotspot. Here’s how to do it.
- Select the “Apple logo” and then “System Preferences.”
- Select “Sharing” and then the words “Internet Sharing“ from the list on the left. DO NOT click the box yet. Click the words instead.
- Select “Ethernet” as the source and “Wi-Fi” in the “To computers using” box.
- Select how other devices will connect to your Mac on the next line.
- Return to the “Sharing > Internet Sharing” and check the box.
- Click “Start” in the popup window that appears.
- Click “OK” within all prompts if applicable.
- Scan for available networks on your other device and use the network name and password from Step 4.
Use DD-WRT x86 to Turn Your PC into a Wireless Router
Admittedly, this one requires a little more know-how, but it can be well worth the effort and possible frustration involved in setup and troubleshooting. DD-WRT is open-source Linux-based firmware designed for routers and embedded systems, but it has an x86 version that runs on PCs.
Check out the detailed dd-wrt wiki page for a complete set of instructions.
The Power of the PC
Both Windows and Mac operating systems support multiple Wi-Fi adapters, but Mac PCs may experience problems when using this method. You would need to manually configure both Wi-Fi adapters with different IP addresses and only use one for local access. This setup tells the Mac to select one for internet traffic and one for local IP traffic. Furthermore, you need to place the internet-enabled Wi-Fi adapter topmost, so Mac prioritizes it. Aside from using an app or third-party program to enable wireless hotspot routing, these are the only ways to get the job done.