Q I have a Mac with AirPort (wireless) card and I have a friend that comes over with a wireless PC. How can I share my Internet connection with the PC?
A. If you have a Mac or a PC with a wireless card you can share your Internet connection by turning your computer into a Wireless access point. All wireless (WiFi) devices connect to an access point and in most cases the access point is built into a router. Using two or more computers you can create a computer-to-computer network, also called an â€œad hocâ€ network.
To begin with you need to configure your Mac to share your Ethernet connection using the Airport. Start by opening â€œSystem Preferencesâ€ from the Apple Menu, and then click the â€œNetworkâ€ icon. You should see the available network interfaces, Ethernet, Airport Internal Modem â€“ the green dot indicates that the connection is working. (If you donâ€™t see the â€œNetwork Statusâ€ you can choose it from the â€œShow:â€ pull down.) Your Mac should be connected to the Internet using the Ethernet interface. (It is also possible to share a modem connection â€“ while the modem is connected.) Double click the â€œAirportâ€ section or click â€œConfigureâ€¦â€ The first tab from the left should say â€œAirportâ€ and at the bottom weâ€™re going to check the box saying, â€œShow Airport status in the menu bar.â€
In the menu bar you should now see an inverted cone icon with a curved top. That is the Airport icon. (Sometimes itâ€™s empty or it may have bars if you are connected to a wireless network.) Click on the icon to open the menu and choose â€œCreate Networkâ€. The â€œComputer-to-Computerâ€ dialog box will open and you can enter a unique name or â€œSSIDâ€ for your network. For security you should also check â€œEnable encryption (using WEP)â€ and enter a password. The 40-bit password is made up of 10 characters (using 0-9 and A-F only.) An easy to remember password would be a phone number with the area code. (Note: If youâ€™re really concerned about security you should make up a more secure password. If your planning on doing wireless networking a lot you may want to consider buying a wireless router.)
Now that you have created a wireless access point you can share your Internet connection. This time go to â€œSharingâ€ in the â€œSystem Preferencesâ€ application. Click on the â€œInternetâ€ tab and youâ€™ll see â€œShare your connection fromâ€ with â€œEthernetâ€ section selected. Check the box next to â€œComputers using Airportâ€. (By the way if youâ€™re connected to the Internet via Airport you can share the Internet via your Ethernet connection.)
Now weâ€™ll switch our attention to your friendâ€™s PC. (Weâ€™re only going to discuss the standard Windows XP method. Many wireless PCâ€™s use proprietary software â€“ but the steps are very similar.) On the PC may see a wireless Network icon in the lower right end of the Task Bar. You can also click on â€œStartâ€ (lower right) and pick â€œMy Network Placesâ€ from the menu. On the left of this window click â€œView Network Connectionsâ€.
If you clicked on the wireless icon from the lower right, you can choose â€œView Wireless Networksâ€ from the â€œConnection Statusâ€ and then choose â€œChange Advanced Settingsâ€. (You can click â€œConnectâ€ if you see the SSID in the list. You may get asked for the network key, if not read on.) From the â€œWireless Networksâ€ tab select the â€œSSIDâ€ you created on the Mac and choose â€œPropertiesâ€. Under Network Authentication choose â€œSharedâ€ and â€œWEPâ€ then enter the Network Key. The Network Key is the password we created above (You may have to uncheck â€œThe key is provided for me automatically.â€ Click â€œOKâ€ to save and close the two windows.
At this point you should see the SSID listed as automatic. You will also see a small PC icon has a green wireless icon in the task bar (lower right). At this point your friendâ€™s PC should be connected to the Internet via your Macintosh. Your friendâ€™s PC will remember your network when he brings the computer back for a visit.
If you want to share the Airport connection with another Mac, choose the SSID from the Airport menu on the second Mac. A dialog should ask you for the Password. Enter the network key and choose the same encryption method. You should be connected â€“ youâ€™ll see that the Airport resembles an amphitheater when itâ€™s connected. When youâ€™re finished sharing uncheck â€œCreate Networkâ€ from the menu on the host Mac.