Fix for Wireless Connection Problems on MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and MacBook Airs

Warning: This is a semi-technical posting for Mac-heads with network connection problems. If you aren’t experiencing this particular problem, you probably won’t find this post too interesting. On the other hand, if you have this problem, you may well regard this information as a God-send.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/imbarney22, Image #704547

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/imbarney22

I thought I was losing my mind. About a week ago, my wireless network connection started flaking out. I would be connected for about two minutes. Then the connection would suddenly drop out. All the while the signal strength would appear to fluctuate wildly.

The most disconcerting thing was that all the other computers in my house were working fine. So, that pretty much ruled out a problem with the modem or the router (an Airport Base Station). Nevertheless, I tried changing a few settings on the router and managed to completely trash the system. Argh!

I finally got it to work for a few minutes and posted a request for help in Apple’s Internet, Networking the MacBook Pro Support Forum. I promptly headed for the gym to chill out.

After an hour’s hard run, I came back to the forum and found that a guy named Brody had posted a reply. He directed me to a FAQ he had put together specifically for MacBook Pro connection problems. Though it’s a little old, I recommend reading it. I had already tried most of his suggestions, but #12 completely healed my system. It has been working ever since.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I clicked on the Apple Menu () on the upper left-hand corner of the screen. I selected System Preferences. I then clicked on the Network icon.
  2. In the dialog box, I clicked on the Advanced tab in the lower right-hand corner. I then clicked on my network entry and drug it to the top, so that it was the first entry in the list. (It may take a couple of tries to “grab” it.) It looked like this:

    System Preferences | Network | Advanced

  3. I then clicked on Apply Now and shut down my computer.
  4. Next I re-started my computer and zapped the PRAM. This sounds more dangerous than it really is. You simply hold down the Command (⌘), Option, P, and R keys simultaneously immediately after re-starting the system. You must do this before the gray screen appears. Don’t let go of the keys until you hear the startup sound for the second time.

That’s all there is to it. Evidently, something got corrupted in my PRAM. Clearing it fixed the problem. Kind of like a reboot.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand what PRAM is. I still don’t. All I know is that my system is fixed, and I am happily surfing away.

Question: Did this fix work for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Jennifer Monkeyfeet

    I’ve tried the PRAM and the IPV6 solutions suggested, but no joy.  My Airport just switches itself off within  a minute of turning my MBP on or restarting.

    It has been like this since I bought it in 2007, and despite having the network card changed and indeed the whole motherboard replaced (under that MBP 2007 – 2008 extended warranty, about two weeks after the Applecare plan I had purchased expired) I am not aware of any way to fix the problem.  The same problem has occurred with several routers, in many locations, in a few different countries, so it’s definitely something to do with the MBP.

    However, I do find that if the macbook has been on for a while, or if it is plugged in to recharge, it is less likely to occur and the connection tends to hold, so I wonder if it is something to do with the temperature of the laptop and it’s components – as if there are parts that need to heat up enough to expand  in order to close a connection?  I can think of no other explanation for this ‘won’t work until it heats up’ issue.  

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Jennifer … Have you taken it into an Apple Store? Those geniuses seem to have a fix for everything! ;)

  • Cindy

    Thanks for your words of wisdom, Michael! I just bought a  MacBook Pro for my business and I am making the switch!  I am a little nervous about all of the things that might not flow… but here I go.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. Enjoy!

  • A17b1c1

    Thank you! your post is just what I needed! 

  • Hopkinson13

    I have been struggling with this for a week or more now.  This is great fixed in moments. Tank you Mac head.

  • Darshanquest

    It worked like a charm- it did not make sense to be – but i m a happy person and so is my customer!! thanks

  • Chocolatecraver

    i had a problem that took 4 trips to the apple store and getting a new macbook and then finally got the answer from apple support!!! I had to change the DNS number to the free google number that is offered to support the macbook.  They said this happens most with people who have both macs and pcs in the house.  call apple support and ask about how to try a different DNS number.

  • Catherineosullivan

    what is the option key?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It is the same as the Alt key—the one just to the left of the Command (or Apple) key.

  • Odkelly

    f*****g brilliant, man! First fix I tried and it worked like a charm. Glad that it wasn’t a hardware problem. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Cyberlily

    Hi Michael: I tried your fix but it didn’t work. I am so frustrated with this issue. I have always had no trouble connecting until we brought a few idevices into the house. I am an avid Mac user and designer, so I know what’s best. However, we now have 2 iPhones, 1 iPad, 1 iPod Touch, 1 MacBook (older model 3 years old), 1 desktop PC running Ubuntu (we don’t like viruses), 1 Samsung Netbook and finally 1 old Toshiba laptop my husband uses for CAD drawings.
    We have reconfigured the router (Bell latest model) to not be broadcast and use the password key written on it’s label. It has WPA2-Personal security. We did this because some neighbours were stealing our Wi-Fi. I have blocked them now. They were using their Wii on our Wi-Fi. 
    I can see all the devices that are inactive on my personal IP page provided by Bell. We used to have problems connecting the Ubuntu system when the idevices came into the mix. We have a wired connection for the desktop PC with Ubuntu. Now everyone can get wireless connections except my Macbook (OSX v10.5.8-Leopard). My daughter even watches Netflix on her iPad.
    So what on earth is going on? Nobody seems to be able to help me. Do I need to upgrade to Lion or maybe just Snow Leopard? If you have any other ideas, please share them with me.

    Sincerely,
    cyberlily

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Have you visited with one of the Apple geniuses? That’s what I would recommend. Unfortunately, I don’t have any insight beyond what I have shared. Sorry.

  • Photo

    I had exact same issue and now it’s fixed. Thank you. I had been driven BONKERS.

  • Angie Arndt

    Yes and yay! Too cool! I thought disconnect/connect/diagnose was going to be my way of life.

  • Kate4bz

    Not fixed but thanks. My MacBook pro is 3 days in residence and now I have no wifi for it, my iPhone or my iPad. Frustrating isn’t the word. Even my machead son can’t solve the problem.

  • Kate4bz

    Solved the problem myself. Updated imac to most current system software and the wifi sprang into life!!! (seems slow for some sites though).  Iphone, ipad and macbook pro all chattering away. Thanks for the help and the ideas

  • Varun

    Thank you. It worked.

  • guest

     Worked for me! Thanks a lot for sharing. Intermittent wireless was driving me nuts, so I followed these steps and it worked.

  • Joel Haas

    Thank you for this tip.  It worked on my Macbook, vintage late 2007, running Lion.  I had had this problem once before but had forgotten the solution.  I appreciate the other solution offered as well, zapping the ivp6.   BTW, I do not notice any date on the blogposts.  If dated, that would be helpful.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You can find the date at the bottom of the post, just before the comments. Thanks!

  • Joel Haas

    Thank you for this PRAM solution.  It worked on my vintage late 2007 Macbook running Lion. I appreciate the ‘disable the ivp6″ solution as well.  It hasn’t happened to me, but I’ll print it off, too, and ad it to my notes.  BTW, I did not see dates on the blog posts.  They would be helpful.

  • Herb Weiss

    This fix worked and fixed my PRAM even though it took me several tries to get it done. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting for us and making he complicated easy.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DZNUF3MRVVU2O7FQQAF64VTRYA Jason

    I already tried this. It did nothing. My wifi still cuts out and hangs.

  • Webpilot13

    Did not fix my problem

  • Breanna

    Thankyou, this Method WORKED!!! but you may have to do the method twice to lock it in. I think the key is to have a connection before it looses it, on computer shut down.
    Cheers

  • Crgj

    Hi. I’ve a very frustrating wirless problem on my MacBook Pro. Its running an up to date Lion.It was happily connecting to a wireless network with an SSID of “3Com”, then stopped doing so and whenever I try its just gives me a connection timeout. I zapped PRAM, removed all refs to “3Com” from preferred networks, the keychain etc etc, and still it refuses to connect. There’s a WEP password but that hasn’t changed. The only way I can get it to connect is to change the SSID to something else other than “3Com” – in this case to “3Como”. Then it connects perfectly even with the same WEP password.
    My problem is that I don’t want to change the SSID on my wireless router from “3Com” as it is used by many other users. It points to some config info problem associated with the SSID “3Com”, but I have no idea where this is held and how to get rid of it once and for all.
    Any ideas – there may be some hidden config files somewhere that I need to delete – but I cannot find them or any reference to them.
    Help!
    Thanks!

  • Jahrad

    Worked great for me! Thanks a lot. :)

  • Peter13433

    You Sir, Are my hero!

  • Egil

    Thank you so much!!  I was driving myself crazy trying to fix this problem!  THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  • Ovmeadows

    I may know in 2 minutes, 2 hours, 2 days or 2 weeks will let you know.  Thanks  

  • Ovmeadows

    I can now report that your fix does not fix my connection issue.  Wifi is not connected in less that 10 minutes. Thanks

  • dab

    I have had this same issue for a few months. Took my MacBook Pro to the Apple store twice and the second time seemed to have fixed the issue (I’ve had it since June 2011). I have run disk permission repairs, removed the location and added a new one (wiping out all of the networks), and Apple can’t find anything wrong when they run the PRAM. This happened with both the Airport Express and my new Netgear router. Not sure what else to do, but it is IMPOSSIBLE to do any work online with the connection dropping out every so often. I even have a test account set up on my computer to see whether it is something funky with my user profile and it happens on the test account as well. It seems as though I have exhausted all of the possible trouble shooting options available through the Apple knowledge base. 

  • James Allan

    test success

  • Dean E Said

    tried it but did not work, any other tips?

  • Bisr

    Thanks!!! Worked for me – no networks were showing up and I thought my wireless must have been totally stuffed! All good now :)

  • Pranav

    YAYYYYYYY IT WORKKKKEEDDD I JUST RESTARTED THE COMPUTER HELD THE KEYS TILL I HEaRD THE STARTUP SOUND 2 or 3 TIMES AND I TURNED WI FI ON AND IT WORKKKKKED!!!!!! :)

  • Rose Worthem

    My wifi went out on my macbook pro last night and it is so frustrating trying to get it to work.  I feel like I tried everything.  It happened when I tried to log onto ATT Wifi at Sams Club ( I was on call ).  Since that did not work I tethered my iphone to the laptop and it seemed slower than before.  When I got home I tried to use my wifi at home and lo and behold, it did not work.  I then tried my tethering and that did not work either.  It was too late to call ATT (uverse dsl) they would not pick up the phone.  I have an imac, and 3 iphones hooked up to my internet and they all work just fine.  I am hoping that it is not a major hardware problem, so when I get home from work I am going to give it a go.  Thanks a bunch.

    • Rose Worthem

      Update. This did not work for me so I called AT&T and they had me up and going within 5 minutes.  I had the IP address of 169.254….
      he said that I just lost my internet connection.  He was able to reset this and bam, I was flying.  

  • Pingback: Pram wireless | Edollartrade

  • http://twitter.com/Erichek_SPb Eric de Regnaucourt

    Yes, it works! Amazing! Thanks so much for posting!

  • mjhhoops

    I’ve found that connecting via network cable first… then going to wireless works also.  I’ve actually seen that on a couple Macs now

  • Dkinney

    Amazing!!! I did exactly what you suggested and it worked. I can now log onto the Internet and remain there indefinitely. I can even switch browser and re-start my computer and re-log onto the net. I have a 15 inch, Mid 2010, MBP. Please make sure your computer is up to date (10.7.3) and you are connected to a active server. Thank you a million apples.

  • emma teller

    THANK YOU!!!!  I have never looked up an answer for a problem on a blog before and have never attempted any ‘computer fix’ myself and have NEVER left a comment on a blog like this but….THIS WAS SO HELPFUL!  I was able to fix my very first computer/ internet problem on my own without running to the apple store for help.  Thank you for taking the time and care to share your knowledge – it just made my night.  : )

  • http://www.greathomeremedies.com/ Home Remedies

    My brand new macbook suffered from randomized wifi connection drops. I changed my router from WEP to WPA and the incident was solved. According to the Dutch apple helpdesk engineer, WEP & Macbook wifi can give some problems.

  • http://birminghamhearthealth.com/ Birmingham Heart Health

    Nice post…I look forward to reading more, and getting a more active part in the talks here, whilst picking up some knowledge as well..

  • Oxandale

    No, it didn’t work, my netwok only sporatically shows in the box.  It’s as if my network comes and goes…not just the connection. I can click on it and drag it to the top, if it’s there at all.  And if I do, it disappears after a few seconds.

    I have other decvices in the house working on that network just fiuine.

  • Wizardjian

    WOW thank you SOO much, the shocking brought the wifi back.
    i guess a comp is like a person, if it stop working just give it a little “shock”
    lol

  • Jon

    Thank you for fixing an irritating and unexpected problem! So far it works! And a lot easier than some of the other fixes….

  • Peter Bonanno

    It worked great. Excellent post!

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  • Dorsaldave

    Just got my brand new MacBook Pro june 30th 2012. My first Apple and was looking forward to it working first time. On the fourth attempt to connect to WiFi it made it then dropped and couldn’t connect again. Even using LAN was flaky. 
    I used this tip and so far seems to work. I can’t believe this bug is still in there in Lion OS.
    Thanks for the tip you saved me time to the help line.

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  • GrammyK

    I TRIED REBOOTING AND HOLDING DOWN THE PRAM BUTTONS AND IT WORKED!! YEA!  AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!! I WAS SO FRUSTRATED AND YOUR SUGGESTION WORKED LIKE A CHARM!  BLESSINGS AND THANK YOU AGAIN.

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