Personal Hotspot

Learn the system requirements for Personal Hotspot on your iPhone, iPad, and iPad Mini.

To use this feature, your wireless carrier must offer Personal Hotspot and your devices must meet certain system requirements.

System requirements

The table below lists the iPhone and iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular models) capable of Personal Hotspot and which connections they can use to share cellular data with another device:

iPhone 4 or later  ✓
iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G*
iPad (3rd generation or later) Wi-Fi + Cellular
iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular
* On iPhone 3G, Personal Hotspot is referred to as Internet tethering.

To connect to a Personal Hotspot, your device requires:

  • Wi-Fi: Support for 802.11g/n using WPA2 encryption.
  • USB: Mac or PC with iTunes 9.2 or later installed.
  • Bluetooth: Mac OS X v10.4.11 or Windows.

Carrier requirements

Verify that your carrier supports Personal Hotspot for your device and that you have Personal Hotspot enabled on your cellular plan:

  • iPhone: View a list of carriers that support Personal Hotspot on the iPhone.
  • iPad and iPad mini: Check with your carrier for availability.

Understanding Personal Hotspot

Learn how to share your cellular data connection using Personal Hotspot, the Internet-sharing feature on iPhone, iPad (3rd generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular or later, and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular.

Personal Hotspot lets you connect your computers and devices to the Internet using the cellular data connection on your device.

To use this feature, enable Personal Hotspot on your cellular data plan. Contact your carrier for information and pricing.

Sharing your cellular data connection

Use the following steps to set up Personal Hotspot:

  1. Tap Settings > Cellular:
    Network settings
  2. Tap Personal Hotspot and turn it on:
    Turn on Personal Hotspot

After configuring Personal Hotspot, you can directly access the settings from Settings > Personal Hotspot.

Note: If you do not see the option for Personal Hotspot, confirm with your carrier that this feature is supported and your wireless plan is configured for Personal Hotspot. For additional troubleshooting, see this article.

Connecting other devices

You can connect your devices to your iPhone, iPad, or iPad mini in the following ways:

Mac or PC iPhone, iPad, or
iPod touch
Other Wi-Fi
devices
Connection tips
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi hotspot turns off when no devices are connected. To automatically turn it back on, go to Settings > Personal Hotspot.
Bluetooth Ensure that the other Bluetooth device is discoverable, and use Settings > Bluetooth to pair.
USB Connect your iPhone or iPad (3rd generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular to your Mac or PC using the USB cable that came with your device.
The Wi-Fi network name or Bluetooth name is your device name. The Wi-Fi network is 802.11g/n capable using WPA2 encryption.

iPhone 3GS can share a connection with USB or Bluetooth. iPhone 4 or later, iPad (3rd generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular or later, and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular can share a connection using Wi-Fi, USB, or Bluetooth.

While devices are connected to Personal Hotspot, the status bar will be blue and will indicate the number of connected users. The maximum number of supported connections may vary depending on your carrier or iPhone model.

You cannot use your Wi-Fi connection for Internet connectivity while other devices are using Wi-Fi for Personal Hotspot. You can share only a cellular data connection; you cannot share a Wi-Fi connection.

Disconnecting devices

You can disconnect users by turning off Personal Hotspot, unplugging your device, or turning off Bluetooth.

Learn more

Changing your Wi-Fi password

Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi networks require a password. You cannot disable this feature.

You can change your Wi-Fi password by tapping Settings > Personal Hotspot or Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot and then tapping the Wi-Fi password.

Wi-Fi Password

Note: Your Wi-Fi password must be at least eight characters long and use ASCII/Unicode characters. Use of non-ASCII characters (Japanese, Russian, Chinese, and so on) will prevent other devices from connecting.

Troubleshooting Personal Hotspot

Basic troubleshooting

  1. See if your iOS device, computer, and wireless plan all meet the system requirements for Personal Hotspot.
  2. Make sure Personal Hotspot is on: Tap Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot.
  3. Check the Internet connection on your iOS device: Tap Safari and load a new webpage.
  4. If one connection type doesn’t work, try another. For example, instead of connecting using Wi-Fi, use USB or Bluetooth.
  5. Turn Personal Hotspot off and on: Tap Settings > Personal Hotspot or Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot.
  6. Install the latest version of iOS.
  7. Reset your network settings: Tap Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.
  8. If you still see the issue, restore the iPhone.

If you’re still experiencing issues, try the steps below.

Wi-Fi troubleshooting

If you encounter an issue using Personal Hotspot with other Wi-Fi devices, try these steps:

  1. Turn Personal Hotspot off.
  2. Turn on Wi-Fi: Tap Settings > Wi-Fi.
  3. Turn on Personal Hotspot.
  4. If another device can’t join your Wi-Fi network, make sure the Wi-Fi password is correct.
  5. If the device can’t see your Wi-Fi network, check your device name. Windows may not correctly show a device name that uses non-ASCII characters.
  6. See how many devices are using your Personal Hotspot. Depending on your wireless carrier, the number of Wi-Fi connections may be limited to three devices at once.
  7. If the other device still can’t connect, turn Wi-Fi off and on for the device.
  8. Make sure that your device can see other Wi-Fi networks.

Note: If you see “Unable to Join” or a timeout error when you try to connect a device using Wi-Fi, remain on the Personal Hotspot screen until the first device connects. After the device connects, you can leave the Personal Hotspot screen and use your iPhone normally. Your device will stop broadcasting Wi-Fi if you put it to sleep or if 90 seconds elapse and no connected devices use Wi-Fi. To share your Wi-Fi network again, tap Settings > Personal Hotspot.

USB troubleshooting

If you’re using USB to connect your computer to Personal Hotspot and can’t connect to the Internet, check your computer’s network settings. You may need to disconnect and reconnect the USB Ethernet interface.

Select your operating system for instructions.

Mac OS X

  1. Go to System Preferences > Network.
  2. Select the Ethernet adapter.Network preferences
  3. Click the gear gear_icon icon and choose Make Service Inactive.Make Service Inactive
  4. Choose Make Service Active.

Windows Vista or Windows 7

  1. In the Network and Sharing Center, click View status.View Status
  2. Click Diagnose.

Windows XP

  1. Go to Control Panel > Network Connections.
  2. Right-click the Local Area Connection that lists Apple Mobile Device Ethernet.Network connections
  3. Click Repair.

Bluetooth troubleshooting

If you’re using Bluetooth to connect another device to your Personal Hotspot and you can’t connect to the Internet, try these steps:

  1.  Make sure your Bluetooth connection is active and discoverable.
    • Mac OS X: Click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar and make sure Discoverable is on. If you don’t see the icon in the menu bar, open System Preferences > Bluetooth and select Show Bluetooth in menu bar.
    • iOS devices: Tap Settings > Bluetooth. Make sure that Bluetooth is on and the bottom of the screen says Now Discoverable. Stay on this screen until pairing is complete.
    • Windows: Choose Start > Control Panel and open Bluetooth Devices. On the Options tab, select Show the Bluetooth icon in the notification area. Click the Bluetooth icon in the notification area and set it to Discoverable.
  2. Pair your device with iPhone or iPad (3rd generation or later) Wi-Fi + Cellular or iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular. You’ll be asked to confirm that an identical Pin Code appears on both devices, but you don’t need to enter it.
    • Mac OS X: Open System Preferences > Bluetooth. Click Pair next to your device and follow the onscreen instructions.
    • iPad or iPod touch: Locate the device that’s sharing Personal Hotspot in Settings > Bluetooth and tap the device to begin pairing. You can’t share your cellular data connection with another iPhone using Bluetooth.
    • Windows: Click the Bluetooth icon in the Notification area (system tray), select Add a Bluetooth Device, and follow the onscreen instructions.
  3. Connect to the network using the steps for your operating system.

Mac OS X

Network preferences

  1. Click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar.
  2. Choose your iOS device.
  3. Choose Connect to network. You can confirm that you’re connected in System Preferences > Network.

Windows

Click the Bluetooth icon in the Notification area (system tray).

Select Join A Personal Area Network. You can confirm that you’re connected in Control Panel > Network Connections (XP) or Network and Sharing Center (Windows Vista and Windows 7).

  • Windows Vista or Windows 7Windows Vista or Windows 7 Network and Sharing Center
  • Windows XPWindows XP Network connections

If you can’t connect, follow these steps:

  1. Turn Bluetooth off and on for both devices.
  2. If the issue persists, remove the pairing records from both devices, then pair again:
    • iPad or iPod touch: Tap “i” to the right of the device, then tap Forget this Device.
    • Mac OS X: Open Bluetooth Preferences, select your iOS device, and click the X to remove it. Restart your computer.
    • Windows: Click the Bluetooth icon in the Notification area (system tray), select Show Bluetooth devices, select your iOS device, and click the Remove button. Click OK and restart your computer.
  3. Restart the iOS device.

Learn more

  • Depending on your cellular network connection, incoming or outgoing phone calls may interrupt your Personal Hotspot connection. After you end the call, Personal Hotspot should automatically reconnect with your devices.
  • If you’re outside your wireless carrier’s network coverage area, you may be roaming.
    • To use Personal Hotspot, you need to turn on Settings > Cellular > Data Roaming.
    • Data roaming charges will apply. Check with your wireless carrier if you’re roaming to verify any additional charges.
  • When Personal Hotspot is on, your iOS device automatically shares your Internet connection with your computer when you connect using USB. For example, when you connect your iPhone to your computer to charge or sync with iTunes. To avoid unnecessary data charges, turn off Personal Hotspot when it isn’t in use.