How to Fix a Mac with WiFi Problems and Dropping Connection

Macs, like any computer, are vulnerable to losing their Wi-Fi connections. If you have reset your router, found that other devices are connecting to it, and your Mac is still refusing to go online, then it’s pretty certain that the issue stems from the Mac itself. This article will cover adjusting packet size, resetting the PRAM and SMC, reconfiguring the DNS, changing location, and deleting and re-adding the WiFi configuration.

Disconnect USB and Wireless Signal Devices

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Before moving onto the nitty-gritty methods of fixing your Mac’s Wi-Fi woes, there’s something simple you can try that might just solve everything. Quite a lot of Mac users have reported that disconnecting certain USB 3 and USB-C devices has solved their problems. So the first thing to try is disconnect your USB devices one by one and see if the Wi-Fi comes back.

Why does this happen? Certain USB devices emit wireless signals that can interfere with the Wi-Fi, while devices like USB hubs have been known to outright disable the Wi-Fi port (sort of like how plugging in an ethernet cable automatically disables Wi-Fi).

So unplug all your devices, then observe whether your Wi-Fi returns after removing a particular one.

Reset the NVRAM/PRAM and SMC

I first started having connection issues while running macOS Sierra’s public beta. Of course, start by restarting your Mac to see if this resolves the issues. Otherwise, try to reset the PRAM (Parameter Random-Access-Memory) / NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random-Access-Memory) and the SMC (System Management Controller). These are the portions of your Mac that control basic operations critical for basic system function.

PRAM/NVRAM

1. Press and hold the power button on your Mac to completely shut it off. Hard discs and fans need to stop spinning, and the screen needs to go dark.

2. Power on your Mac.

3. Immediately after you hear the startup sound, press and hold the Command + Option + P + R keys.

4. Keep holding them down until you hear the start up sound again and see the Apple logo.

5. Release the keys, and the PRAM/NVRAM will have been reset.

SMC

This process will vary heavily depending on whether or not your Mac is a desktop or laptop and if it has a removable battery or not. Apple covers this process quite heavily.

The following attempts at getting back online will all require you to begin with your Mac’s “Network Settings.” To get there:

1. Click on “System Preferences” from the dock, or click it from the top-left Apple logo’s drop-down menu.

2. Click “Network” from the newly-opened window.

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Reconfigure the DNS

DNS stands for Domain Name Server, which essentially changes web addresses that we are able to read (e.g. www.google.com) to IP addresses that the server can understand. This acts as a “phone book” of sorts for the Internet. Sometimes your service provider’s given DNS will not work properly, in which case we can use safe and free publicly available DNS options like Google’s.

1. Click “Advanced.”

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2. Select “DNS” from the network settings.

3. Click the “+” icon.

4. Type 8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4 into the box and press Enter (these are Google’s DNS options).

5. Click “Okay.”

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Now try to surf the Web.

Adjust Packet Size

Are some pages loading just fine and others failing completely? This could have to do with the amount of packets that are able to be transmitted. In layman’s terms, this is the amount of data able to be transmitted over the network. We can adjust the value so that certain sites are able to load.

1. Click “Advanced.”

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2. Start by selecting “Hardware” in network settings.

3. Change the “Configure” setting from “Automatic” to “Manually.”

4. Change MTU from “Standard (1500)” to “Custom.”

5. Add the value “1453” into the box and press Enter. Click “Okay.”

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Try surfing the Web a bit to see if this was able to solve the issue.

Change Location and Renew DHCP Lease

Sometimes the automatic location determined by your Mac will not get settings 100% correct, in which case we can set up a custom location and settings that go along with it. This is where we can also renew a DHCP lease and IP address. DHCP is a protocol for arranging IP addresses, and changing that can make sure traffic is being directed accordingly. Now after all of that tech jargon, here is how to do it.

1. Again in network settings, click “Edit locations” from the drop-down menu where “Automatic” is currently selected.

2. Click the “+” icon and name this new “location.” You can name it literally anything you would like; the name itself does not affect anything. Press Enter and click “Done.”

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You will now notice that “no IP address” appears under WiFi on the left menu bar.

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3. Click “Advanced,” then “TCP/IP” from the menu bar.

4. Click “Renew DHCP Lease.” A new IP address will be assigned.

5. Click “Okay” and try to surf the Web.

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Conclusion

Hopefully one of these steps were able to get you online. If not, drop a comment below and let us know.

13 comments

  1. Hey! I tried doing the steps you suggested and am still unable to get online. I’ve been having this problem for a while now with my computer being unable to connect to the wifi but literally every other device can. I’ve even been on the phone with apple support about this issue for over 2 hours with no immediate solution. It randomly gets through and connects for maybe a day or two then kicks off again and nothing loads. And in that meantime it says it’s still connected with full bars. Just nothing will load. HELP!

    1. This same exact thing is happening to my brand new Mac Mini!! Anyone ablr to help??

  2. Just in the past day, my MacBook Air will not connect to any WiFi link, so that Internet connectivity has been killed on my MacBook Air. For a long time, web browsers, especially Chrome, would crash from time to time. Also Microsoft Office – Word crashes all the time. I think it is being stated now that MacBook Air is failing as a computer.

  3. Eek! These same things have been happening to me. The crashing for about 6 months and now the internet problems. Today I actually stayed connected for about an hour-longest in a while. I’m curious if anyone has experienced constant pop-ups about updating adobe as well?

  4. This has become a feature of MacOS. It’s BS to say “all computers lose their connection”. I have multiple Wondows and Linux machines running 24×7 on the same SSID and they never drop off. The Mac? Drops evejtuseve without fail if left idle long enough

  5. These steps resolved my issue for hours. Then my connection dropped again and I noticed the DNS had reverted back to ATT DNS server. I did unlock and reconfig to Google DNS server. Back up again. Curious how/why my settings reverted to old settings.

  6. Thank you very much for a very comprehensive tuition – of all the solutions I’ve read, yours is the simplest and most helpful to understand. I will try them and let you know if they were successful.

  7. Tried your suggestions so far it seems to have worked. Thank you for your clear concise instructions.

  8. I tried exactly as per your instructions but it did not work.

  9. Tried all the suggestions and none of them worked on my new 2018 MacBook Air, am running latest Mojave and computer is less than a month old-

  10. My wifi keeps dropping by itself. The wifi automatically turns off and could not be turned back on. I have to restart my mac several times before it can connect to the wifi again. Then it does the same thing. Is anyone experiencing the same? Sometimes, my wifi says No Hardware Installed but becomes normal after I reboot. My mac is the 2018 MacBook Air please send help

  11. None of this worked for me. I’m so frustrated :( everything else that I have connected to WiFi works.

  12. I have the same issue with my 2018 MacBook error. It was working fine for about five months and then now the Wi-Fi randomly drops out. Very frustrating. Any other solution?

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