Here is the easiest way to give someone your Wi-Fi network password. You know the drill—a friend comes to visit and wants to get on your Wi-Fi network. You’ve written the password down somewhere, but where? Even if you have it handy, it’s a pain for your friend to type in. Since macOS 10.13 High Sierra and iOS 11, Apple’s operating systems can make connecting a lot easier. Have your guest choose your network, and then put their device next to one of your devices that’s awake and connected to the Wi-Fi network. As long as you have a card in your Contacts app whose name matches your friend’s My Card in their Contacts, your device should ask if you want to share the Wi-Fi password with them. Just tap Share Password when prompted and you’re done!
Finding good Internet access for your Mac or Wi-Fi-only iPad while traveling can be maddening. Look in your Wi-Fi menu while sitting in an airport and you’ll see a bunch of networks, most of which require a password or won’t connect for other reasons. It isn’t any better when you reach your destination, since many hotels charge usurious rates for Wi-Fi. And while you might be able to find a coffee shop with free public Wi-Fi, those networks may not be secure—a hacker on the same network could watch your unencrypted Internet traffic.
If you’re like most Apple users, the solution is in your pocket or purse: your iPhone. For a number of years, turning on iOS’s Personal Hotspot feature involved additional fees from your cellular carrier, which dissuaded many people from using it. Nowadays, however, most mobile phone plans don’t charge extra for tethering, as it’s often called. If you have an “unlimited” plan, your carrier may throttle your bandwidth if you exceed some usage level because the carrier doesn’t want customers to use tethering for their primary Internet connections. Double-check your plan, but if you won’t have to pay more to use tethering, here’s how to use it to solve Wi-Fi problems while on the road.
On your iPhone (or cellular-enabled iPad), go to Settings > Personal Hotspot and enable the switch for Personal Hotspot. Then tap Wi-Fi Password, and in the next screen, enter a password. It must be at least 8 characters and can use only ASCII characters (English letters, numbers, and standard punctuation marks). It shouldn’t be trivial (like “password”), but don’t worry about making it super strong, since your iPhone isn’t likely to be in any single location long enough for someone to try to crack it. (You can also share a Personal Hotspot connection via Bluetooth or a USB cable, but both are fussier and may not work as well.)
Then, from your MacBook, click the Wi-Fi menu in the menu bar and choose the network named for your iPhone—it may appear under a Personal Hotspot heading and will have a Personal Hotspot icon. From an iPad or another iOS device, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and select the iPhone’s network.
In either case, if both devices are signed in to the same iCloud account and have Bluetooth turned on, Apple’s Instant Hotspot feature should make it so you don’t have to enter the password. It’s no great hardship if you do have to type the password; the Mac or iPad should remember it for future use.
Once you’re connected, everything should work just as though you were using a normal Wi-Fi network. Performance might be a little slow, but since random public Wi-Fi networks are often pokey, it may be better than you’d get otherwise.
If you worry about using too much data and generating overage charges or getting throttled, pay attention to what apps and services use bandwidth on your Mac. Things like Dropbox, Backblaze, and iCloud Photo Library can slurp a lot of data in the background, so you may want to turn them off. Or install TripMode ($7.99), a clever Mac utility that notices when you’re using a new Wi-Fi network and asks which services you want to allow through.
When you finish tethering, turn off the Personal Hotspot switch on your iPhone to make sure it doesn’t use any extra battery life or allow another of your devices to consume cellular data inadvertently.
Install macOS 10.12 Sierra on your Macs and iOS 10 on your iOS devices and you’ll get a cool new feature: Universal Clipboard. As you’d expect from the name, Universal Clipboard transfers anything you copy to all your devices so you can paste anywhere. Copy some text on your iMac and a few seconds later you can paste it on your MacBook Air, your iPhone, or your iPad. Or copy an incoming phone number in the Phone app and paste into an email message on your iMac. Universal Clipboard even works with graphics and videos.
Neither Sierra nor iOS 10 provides any interface for Universal Clipboard at all. You can’t turn it off or configure it in any way. In other words, it should just work. But what if it doesn’t? It turns out that six things must be true for Universal Clipboard to work. Miss any of these and Universal Clipboard will fail to copy the clipboard contents from device to device without warning. The requirements are as follows:
- Any Macs involved must have been introduced in 2012 or later, or, in the case of the Mac Pro, 2013 or later. Choose > About This Mac to check your Mac’s age. Since Sierra runs on most Macs introduced since late 2009, Universal Clipboard won’t work on some older but otherwise Sierra-capable Macs.
- All Macs must be running macOS 10.12 Sierra or later, and all iOS devices must be running iOS 10 or later.
- All the devices must be on the same Wi-Fi network. This requirement can be tricky since devices might join different Wi-Fi networks if several are available. On a Mac, look in the Wi-Fi menu bar menu, and on an iOS device, check Settings > Wi-Fi.
- Each device must have Bluetooth enabled and be within Bluetooth range of the other devices. That’s usually about 30 feet, but it’s safest to assume that both devices need to be in the same room. On a Mac, check in System Preferences > Bluetooth. On an iOS device, open Settings > Bluetooth.
- All the devices must be signed in to the same iCloud account, and that account must be the primary iCloud account on each device. To see which account is signed in, on a Mac, look in System Preferences > iCloud. On an iOS device, check Settings > iCloud.
- Handoff must be enabled. On Macs, turn it on in System Preferences > General. On iOS devices, the necessary switch is in Settings > General > Handoff.
If you still have trouble after verifying that your setup meets the six requirements above, make sure that your Wi-Fi connection is working well on each device, and that each device can connect to the Internet. If either of those isn’t true, Universal Clipboard may not transfer the clipboard contents.
When it’s working, Universal Clipboard takes just a few seconds to move the contents of the clipboard from device to device, and the transferred item remains available for pasting for about two minutes. It’s a subtle, but welcome addition to the Apple experience.