personal hotspot iconThis article explains what Instant Hotspot is and how you can make the most of it using your Apple devices. If you like, click the links below to jump to the sections that most interest you.

What is Instant Hotspot?

In iOS and iPadOS, Instant Hotspot refers to Apple's long-standing Personal Hotspot feature that lets you share the data connection on your iPhone or cellular iPad with other Apple devices.

Apple calls it Instant Hotspot to highlight the fact that your hotspot is always on and ready to provide internet access to any other devices nearby that are signed into your iCloud account, without them requiring a password to connect.

How is it Different From Personal Hotspot?

Instant Hotspot uses Apple's Continuity framework to connect other devices to your hotspot, so that it stays connected in the absence of a viable Wi-Fi connection, even if the ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ hosting the hotspot goes to sleep. That means any incoming messages and push notifications will still arrive on the connected device(s).

In previous versions of iOS, you could only connect to an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ personal hotspot manually, and you had to know your hotspot password, but that's no longer the case.

settings

What You Need to Use Instant Hotspot

Instant Hotspot is an extension of Apple's platform-wide Continuity framework. Therefore, in order for Instant Hotspot to work, your devices need to fulfill the following requirements.

  • Your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ (Wi-Fi + Cellular) has an activated carrier plan that provides Personal Hotspot service.
  • Each device meets Apple's Continuity requirements.
  • Each device is signed in to ‌iCloud‌ with the same Apple ID.
  • Each device has Bluetooth turned on.
  • Each device has Wi-Fi turned on.

How to Connect Your Mac to an Instant Hotspot

To connect your Mac to your Personal Hotspot, click the Wi-Fi status menu in the menu bar and choose the name of your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌.

personal hotspot mac
The Wi-Fi status icon in the menu bar will change to the hotspot icon (it looks like a chain link) to indicate that you've successfully connected.

How to Connect Other iOS Devices to Instant Hotspot

To connect an iPod touch or another ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ to your Instant Hotspot, tap through to Settings -> Wi-Fi on the device in question, then tap the name of the ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ hosting your hotspot.

ipad personal hotspot connection
Note the Auto-Join Hotspot setting located at the bottom of the Wi-Fi screen in Settings. This allows the connecting device to automatically discover nearby personal hotspots when no Wi-Fi network is available. Tapping this option lets you set it to Automatic, Ask to Join, or Never.

How to Let Others Use Your Instant Hotspot

On the Personal Hotspot settings screen, there's a switch that you can turn on to Allow Others to Join.

settings
This makes your hotspot appear to other devices that are not signed into your ‌iCloud‌ account, but only when you're in the Personal Hotspot settings screen of if you've made it discoverable via Control Center.

Other devices can be connected via Bluetooth or plugged in via USB. However, the user of the device must enter the hotspot password you created, just like they would need to in order to connect to a typical Wi-Fi network.

How to Enable Hotspot Family Sharing

You can also set up your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ hotspot so that family members can automatically connect to it whenever an internet connection isn't available. This setting only works with Apple's Family Sharing feature, so make sure you've set that up first.

Once that's done, follow the steps below to start sharing your Instant Hotspot with your Family group.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your ‌iPhone‌.
  2. Tap Personal Hotspot.
  3. Tap Family Sharing.
    personal hotspot family sharing

  4. Toggle the Family Sharing switch to the ON position.
  5. Tap a family member to Ask for Approval.

Once the family member accepts your request, their device will automatically connect to your iOS device's hotspot when required.

How to Disable Instant Hotspot on iPhone and iPad

With the release of iOS 13.1, Apple removed the on/off switch from the Personal Hotspot screen in the Settings app. As described above, the thinking behind this change is that your hotspot is always ready to provide internet access your to other devices whenever they need it. On that basis, verified devices may automatically connect to your nearby instant hotspot if there's no Wi-Fi internet connection available.

control center
If you want to prevent other devices from connecting to your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ hotspot, you can do so via the Control Center: Long press the Bluetooth button, and if the Personal Hotspot button is green on the next screen, tap it to make your hotspot Not Discoverable.

Top Stories

iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived last October in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Full iPhone 13 Feature Breakdown: Everything Rumors Say We Can Expect

Tuesday August 31, 2021 7:50 am PDT by
With the launch of Apple's iPhone 13 lineup believed to be just a few weeks away, we have compiled all of the coherent rumors from our coverage over the past year to build a full picture of the features and upgrades coming to the company's new smartphones. For clarity, only explicit improvements, upgrades, and new features compared to the iPhone 12 lineup are listed. It is worth noting that...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
macbook air deals

Deals: Amazon Drops Price of 256GB M1 MacBook Air to New Low of $849.99 ($149 Off)

Friday August 27, 2021 6:16 am PDT by
Amazon today introduced new low prices on the M1 MacBook Air for both 256GB and 512GB storage options. To start, you can get the 256GB model for $849.99, down from an original price of $999.00. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Only Silver and Gold are...
iCloud General Feature

iCloud+'s New Custom Email Domain Feature Now Available in Beta

Wednesday August 25, 2021 7:48 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, users with a paid iCloud+ storage plan can personalize their iCloud email address with a custom domain name, such as johnny@appleseed.com, and the feature is now available in beta. iCloud+ subscribers interested in setting up a custom email domain can visit the beta.icloud.com website, select "Account Settings" under their name, and select ...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
maxresdefault

New MacBook Pro Models Coming at WWDC, Suggests Leaker

Monday May 24, 2021 1:27 pm PDT by
New MacBook Pro models are coming at WWDC, according to leaker Jon Prosser who has a mixed track record when it comes to predicting Apple's plans. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Prosser provided no additional information, but there are new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models in the works. The new MacBook Pros will feature the most radical redesign to the MacBook Pro ...
omg lightning cable comparison

Security Researcher Develops Lightning Cable With Hidden Chip to Steal Passwords

Thursday September 2, 2021 6:59 am PDT by
A normal-looking Lightning cable that can used to steal data like passwords and send it to a hacker has been developed, Vice reports. The "OMG Cable" compared to Apple's Lightning to USB cable. The "OMG Cable" works exactly like a normal Lightning to USB cable and can log keystrokes from connected Mac keyboards, iPads, and iPhones, and then send this data to a bad actor who could be over a...
ted lasso notchless phone

No, That Notchless iPhone Spotted in 'Ted Lasso' Isn't the iPhone 13

Tuesday August 31, 2021 2:15 am PDT by
Recent sightings of a notchless iPhone in highly popular Apple TV+ comedy "Ted Lasso" have led to sensational headlines suggesting this is a canny bit of product placement on Apple's part and that the iPhone 13 will be notchless. In actuality – and this could go without saying – the phone in question is very likely just showing a poorly superimposed display added in post-production. Notchless ...
calculatorapp

iOS 11 Bug: Typing 1+2+3 Quickly in the Calculator App Won't Get You 6

Tuesday October 24, 2017 2:03 pm PDT by
A bug in the built-in Calculator app in iOS 11 is getting some major attention this week, despite the fact that it's been around since iOS 11 was in beta testing. At issue is a calculator animation that causes some symbols to be ignored when calculations are entered in rapid succession. You can try it for yourself: Type 1+2+3 and then the equals sign into the Calculator app quickly. Due to...