Connecting to a Wireless Network
When wireless network cards first started appearing, they were limited to portable computers. Over the past decade, however, Wi-Fi has taken off as a networking standard for both laptops and desktop computers. Current wireless network speeds are approaching wired connections, so, slowly but surely, wireless is taking over.
Using the built-in AirPort wireless card in your Mac, you can connect to almost any type of wireless network.
Making a Wireless Connection
Apple makes life easy. Your Mac comes ready (and able) to connect to wireless networks with a minimal amount of fuss.
Finding and Connecting to a Network
If you haven’t already made a wired connection, your Mac’s Wi-Fi (wireless) card will be active and searching for networks that it can connect to.
- If your Mac finds an available network, it prompts you to make a connection.
- Choose the network name to connect to. Note that the network signal strength and security are denoted by icons to the right of the name. If a lock is present, the network requires authentication. This is covered in “Authenticating on a Wireless Network” later in this chapter.
- Click Join to connect to the selected network.
If you’ve been given the specific name of a network (called an SSID) by a network administrator and it doesn’t appear in the available networks list, click the Join Other button to enter the name and attempt to find the network.
Manually Choosing a Wireless Connection
If you want to manually choose a wireless network connection, you can use the Wi-Fi menu in your menu bar.
- The Wi-Fi menu displays a list of all of the available wireless access points, their signal strengths, and their security requirements.
- Choose the network name to which you want to connect from the list. If you’re connecting to a network that shows a lock icon, it requires authentication. This topic is covered in “Authenticating on a Wireless Network” later in this chapter.
If you want to connect to a network using only its name, choose Join Other Network to enter the name and attempt the connection.
Authenticating on a Wireless Network
When your Mac connects to an open (unsecured) network, it works immediately. If you’re connecting to a network that is secure, however, you need to authenticate, which means you need to provide a password or other identifying information. This requirement is usually denoted by a lock icon next to the network’s signal strength icon.
- If you attempt to connect to a network that has a security requirement, you are prompted for a password.
- Enter the password (or other information, depending on the security settings).
- Click Show Password if you’d like to see the password instead of dots while you type.
- To make sure that the network can be used again in the future without requiring that you retype the password, check the Remember This Network button.
Click Join to finish and authenticate to the network.
Disabling (and Enabling) Wireless Networking
Not everyone wants to have wireless networking always enabled. It can potentially expose you to network attacks on poorly secured wireless networks. Disabling the Wi-Fi network interface, and re-enabling it, is just a menu option away.
To disable the Wi-Fi card, choose Turn Wi-Fi Off from the Wi-Fi status menu.
- The Wi-Fi menu updates to an outline of the usual multiline symbol. The Wi-Fi hardware is now powered down.
To re-enable the Wi-Fi card, choose Turn Wi-Fi On from the Wi-Fi status menu.