Share an internet connection between two Macs

Recently I took a trip to visit my parents, and found myself in a world without Wi-Fi. It’s hard to imagine that there are still some places that don’t have the luxury of Wi-Fi, but we all know they exist. Yea, I know, it should be outlawed but…

Lucky for me, my parents had a iMac with an airport card, and I was able to create a Wi-Fi network without the use of a base station. Here is how you do it.

A Little Back Story-
My parents live is in a remote town near the US border with Mexico. They are too far out to get DSL, and there is no cable in there area. The only option for internet service that they have is called Wi-Vod. Ironically, it is a Wi-Fi service.

Wi-Vod was created for people who do not have high speed internet options available to them. Local residents and businesses can pay to use this service, but it does not work in the traditional Wi-Fi way. First customers must have a direct and unobscured view to a local tower. An antenna must then be installed locally, like on a roof top. Essentially the antenna picks up the Wi-Fi signal and then brings it into the customers computer via a standard Ethernet cable. This means that the user must log into the system at the beginning of every session. While this might seam like a pain, it does have some advantages. The service is rather cheap, and the speeds quite astonishing. My parents were getting about 3 Mbits up and down, as a matter of fact the upload speed was slightly faster than the down. How often do you see that!

Anyway, the lack of connectivity was a issue for me. I really needed to use my MacBook Pro in a different room then where they had their computer setup. And since my parents have a iMac, they really have no use for a wireless router, and unfortunately I forgot to bring my airport express.

Frustrated, I then remembered that OS X has an internet sharing preference. I had never used this setting before, so I was not sure what to expect. I didn’t even know if I would be able to share an internet connection via an Airport card or not. However, I was pleasantly surprised, despite a few caveats.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Open the System Preferences.
  2. Locate the Sharing preferences.
  3. In the Sharing preferences, there are three tabs. Select the Internet tab.
  4. Here you will find several options that you can select to configure your specific setup.
    For the purpose of this example I will describe how I configured the settings. Of course you can configure them for your specific situation, I wanted to use Airport.

    Internet-Share 3
  5. In the pull down menu select the Airport option.
  6. Then check Airport in the “To computers using” window.
  7. Press the Start button and you are sharing your internet connection.

As I mentioned, there are a few caveats. If you have your OS X firewall enabled you will need to make sure that you have web sharing enabled for this to work.

Internet-Share 7

You are also able to add encryption via the airport option button (located in the internet sharing preference pane). If you are on an network, you need to make sure that you are not stepping on any toes, basically if you are sharing using the built in Ethernet option. Apple will warn you of what might happen, but if you are sharing via Airport, changes are you will have nothing to worry about.

Internet-Share 4

Internet-Share 5
But if you are sharing with built-in ethernet, and you use a cable modem, it is possible to affect other users who share your ISP. More than likely your ISP may terminate your account if this were to happen, so be very careful. I recommend to stick with the Airport and Wi-Fi when possible.
I also recommend that this only be a temporary solution. Just use this when you need to and turn it off when you don’t. This way you have less of a change to mess anything up. You can always buy a wireless router and have a permanent solution that you don’t have to worry about.

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1 Response to “Share an internet connection between two Macs”

  1. 1 Share an internet connection between two Macs « The Picune Blog Pingback on Nov 20th, 2006 at 3:57 pm
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