How to Use 'Instant Hotspot' On a Mac with OS X Yosemite

by

With OS X Yosemite, Apple has included a number of Continuity features that improve the integration between iOS and Mac devices. OS X Yosemite includes a feature called Instant Hotspot which allows users to more easily use their iPhone's wireless cellular data connection from their Mac or iPad.

instanthotspot
With Instant Hotspot, there is no longer a need to enter a password to connect as security is handled through a common iCloud account. An iPhone can even be in sleep mode and allow your Mac to initiate Instant Hotspot, with no additional settings needing to be enabled aside from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Before you Start

You need iOS 8.1 and OS X Yosemite in order to use Instant Hotspot. You also need to ensure that your data plan with your wireless carrier allows for internet hotspot capabilities. In the United States, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, allow phones to be used as hotspots with select data plans. Sprint offers mobile hotspot capabilities with a monthly add-on plan.

Also, make sure both your Mac and iPhone are logged into the same iCloud account, and check that your Mac supports Instant Hotspot. This can be done by clicking the  symbol in the top left-hand side of the Menu bar, navigating to About This Mac, clicking on System Report and clicking on the Bluetooth listing. You should see information about whether your system is compatible with Instant Hotspot and Handoff.

instanthotspot1
After you ensure that you have a compatible Mac and data plan, follow the instructions below to turn on Instant Hotspot:

Steps

1. Turn on Wi-Fi on your iPhone (Settings -> Wi-Fi) and Mac (Menu Bar -> wifi -> Turn Wi-Fi On.

2. Turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone (Settings -> Bluetooth) and Mac (Menu Bar -> Apple -> System Preferences -> Bluetooth -> Turn Bluetooth On).

wifi
3. On your Mac, click the Wi-Fi symbol wifi in the menu bar. A new "Personal Hotspot" heading now appears near the top, and will be followed by the name of your iPhone. On the right side of your iPhone's name, signal strength, network type, and available battery life are displayed. Click on your device's name to begin using it as an Instant Hotspot for your Mac.

personalhotspot5
4. You may now begin using the Internet on your Mac with your iPhone acting as an Instant Hotspot. On the Mac, the Instant Hotspot connection between both devices is represented by a special icon that shows a link over the traditional Wi-Fi symbol. On the iPhone, the connection is represented by a blinking blue bar that shows that a Personal Hotspot is active.

When a tethered Mac or iPad switches to a Wi-Fi connection or is no longer connected to an iPhone, Instant Hotspot automatically turns off. This feature is designed to save battery on the iPhone, because tethering can use a significant amount of battery life.

Troubleshooting

While we had few issues with Instant Hotspot, several members of our forum have had more inconsistent results. Several people have had to try logging out and back into iCloud on their devices, turning Wi-Fi off and then back on, or even rebooting their devices. These steps may help if you are having trouble turning using Instant Hotspot.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
78 months ago
how to run out of cellular bandwidth on a mac with OS X Yosemite
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
78 months ago

I think a necessary step is missing from this guide.

On iPhone: Settings > Personal Hotspot > On


No.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
78 months ago

I dont understand why cover the name of the phone and network?

Because it's my real name (ok part of) and my real nickname. :o Kind of personal.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
78 months ago
Well this is just stupid and pointless if I have to pay extra just to use this feature with my carrier. If it eats up my bandwidth, so be it because that is my decision, but it should not cost extra to use it.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
78 months ago

It works as reliably as al the Handoff features, which is, not at all - probably 30% of the time.

I've seen it appear. It doesn't appear right now though.

I'll usually get Handoff working between iPhone and Macbook and not the other way around. Then i'll reboot the Macbook and it'll work from Macbook to iPhone and not the other round.

It's one of the buggiest features Apple has have made...a theme of the times lately unfortunately.

When's the Yosemite update coming?

I agree, I was pulling my hair out trying to get this to work consistently last night. At first my mac found the iPhone hotspot and tethered with no problems. Then I tried with my iPad and it would find the hotspot but not connect. Then it wouldn't find it at all. Then the mac couldn't connect to it anymore either, but still find it. Then the iPad could connect but the mac still couldn't. Tried resetting all 3 devices and resetting network settings. It just doesn't work consistently.

The big irony is of course that it was supposed to replace the old hotspot method and make it less clunckly and more streamlined, yet it's done the exact opposite, for me anyway.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
78 months ago

not live in sovjet USA where you get shafted by the cell carriers...

seriously, needing to pay the carrier to allow hot spots is something totally unheard of in europe...


Welcome to 'Merica, the land of liberals, infinite taxes, and idiocracy. If I have a 4GB data plan, then I should not have to pay extra to use it for a hotspot.


EDIT: After trying what was stated in the above article, I got it to work when trying the "Troubleshooting" tips. I first connected to the same WiFi network, turned on Bluetooth, then I signed out of iCloud on both my iPhone and my MBP. Then I restarted each device, and then signed back into iCloud and it "just work[ed]." If you click on the WiFi icon in the menu bar and don't see it at first, wait a few seconds and it will appear (If everything else is done correctly).

Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone 12 Pro in Graphite and iPhone 12 in Blue Shown Off in Unboxing Videos

Monday October 19, 2020 8:20 am PDT by
While the iPhone 12 Pro does not launch until Friday, we now have an early unboxing video of the device courtesy of Twitter account DuanRui, providing a closer look at the shiny new flat-edge design and sleek Graphite color option. Ben Geskin re-uploaded the unboxing video to YouTube, which we've embedded below: Geskin has also uploaded an unboxing video of the iPhone 12 in Blue: ...

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Pro Demand Higher Than Expected

Sunday October 18, 2020 10:39 pm PDT by
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a research note this morning detailing what he's seen with the volume of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pre-orders in the first weekend of sales. Kuo had previously indicated that Apple's estimated shipment allocations for the new iPhone models placed the iPhone 12 at the top with 40-45% of inventory allocation (up from 15-20%). However, ...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 14.1 With Multiple Bug Fixes Ahead of iPhone 12 Launch

Tuesday October 20, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.1, the first major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 14 operating system updates that were released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.1 come a week after Apple released the golden master versions of the updates to developers. The iOS 14.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access...

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Charger for iPhone 12

Monday October 19, 2020 11:54 am PDT by
Alongside the new iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a MagSafe charger that attaches to the back of the iPhones using magnets embedded both in the charger and in the iPhone. It allows for speedier charging and paves the way for a portless iPhone in the future. MagSafe chargers are shipping out and are in some Apple retail locations now, and we picked one up to check it out. Subscribe to the ...

Watch: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Tuesday October 20, 2020 6:05 am PDT by
Apple's embargo has lifted for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews. In addition to our detailed review roundups for each device, we've rounded up over a dozen unboxing videos and first impressions below. iPhone 12 in Blue on left and iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue on right via Engadget Key new features of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro include a flat-edge design, 5G support, a much faster A14 ...

Some Apple Watch SE Owners Experiencing Issues With Overheating [Updated]

Monday October 19, 2020 11:38 am PDT by
There may be an issue with the new Apple Watch SE, which some users have found is overheating after a few hours of usage. Several Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea have run into problems, as noted in a Reddit post chronicling the complaints. There have been six reports from Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea who have had their Apple Watches get hot and malfunction, with a yellow spot...

Gold Version of iPhone 12 Pro Apparently Has a More Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel Frame

Tuesday October 20, 2020 11:56 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro reviews hit the web today, and one of the more interesting tidbits came from TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino, who revealed that the Gold version of the device apparently has a more fingerprint resistant coating applied to the stainless steel frame. From his review:Most of the iPhone 12 Pro finishes still use a physical vapor deposition process for edge coating. But the new gold...

iPhone 12 Pro Max Has Smaller 3,687 mAh Battery According to Regulatory Filing

Tuesday October 20, 2020 8:48 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 Pro Max is equipped with a 3,687 mAh battery, which is around 7% less capacity than the 3,969 mAh battery in the iPhone 11 Pro Max, according to a regulatory filing published by TENAA, the Chinese equivalent of the FCC. The regulatory filing, spotted by MacRumors, also lists the iPhone 12 Pro Max with 6GB of RAM as seen in benchmark results last week. Apple has filed ...

Hands-On With Apple's iPhone 12 and 12 Pro MagSafe Cases

Tuesday October 20, 2020 1:33 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are launching this Friday, and ahead of that release date, Apple is shipping out various accessories like the MagSafe charger and MagSafe cases. Yesterday we took a look at the MagSafe charger, and today our MagSafe case came in the mail, so we thought we'd take another look at the charger to see how it works with the case and just how strong the case magnets are. S ...