How to link an iPhone to a Mac

Want to access your iPhone’s internet connection on your Mac? We teach you two methods: wired and wireless.

Most of you have been in a situation where you didn’t have WiFi but needed to connect to the internet. Well, if you have your phone, you can share the mobile connection to access the internet on your computer. This is called tethering.

You can share your iPhone’s Internet connection with your Mac in three ways: USB, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. However, because Bluetooth is slow and unreliable, we’ve focused on the other two in this guide.

Connect an iPhone to your Mac via USB

Linking your iPhone to a Mac via a USB connection is quite simple. Here’s what to do:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac using the included Lightning to USB cable.
  2. Go to the Settings app on your iPhone, tap Personal hotspotand switch on Allow others to join.
  3. Open on your Mac System settings and click Network from the left pane.
  4. Here you can see iPhone USB below Other services.

System settings Network menu

If you’re already connected to Wi-Fi, the status icon under iPhone USB is a yellow dot that says “Connected.” When you disconnect from Wi-Fi, the status changes to a green dot that says “Connected.” You should now be able to access your phone’s internet on your Mac.

If you don’t see the iPhone USB service in the Network menu, click the icon with three dots bottom right and select Add service. Select iPhone USB as the interface and click To create.

Connect an iPhone to your Mac via Wi-Fi

Don’t have your iPhone’s Lightning cable with you? Maybe you use MagSafe for charging, which you can’t use to connect to your Mac. Not to worry because you can use the Personal Hotspot feature instead. Follow these steps:

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Personal Hotspot and switch on Allow others to join.
  2. Write down the password (if any) and name of the iPhone (you can check it in Settings > General > Info > Name).
  3. On your Mac, click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and choose your iPhone from the list of connections below it Personal hotspots.
  4. Enter the password when prompted and click Participate.

Wi-Fi drop-down menu and Wi-Fi password window

If your Mac still can’t access the internet after connecting to your iPhone, consider checking out our Personal Hotspot troubleshooting guide.

Stay connected anywhere with tethering

Linking your iPhone to your Mac is a convenient and reliable way to stay connected on the go. Both methods we’ve discussed have their fair share of pros and cons.

USB tethering offers better reliability, speed and security than Personal Hotspot. It also allows your iPhone to charge while you do the exhausting job of sharing its internet. However, if you connect it to a MacBook, it will drain your laptop’s battery instead.

And while Personal Hotspot is useful, it comes at the expense of your iPhone’s battery life, which you don’t want when you’re on the go. You can leave it plugged in, of course, but we don’t recommend it if you want to keep your iPhone’s battery topped up.