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I need to do a few tests and I will need a tool to check which Airport base station I am connected to.

I want to be able to monitor any changes (switching from base station to base station, signal, speed...) in real time.

The switching between base stations remains the primary focus of this question.

What are the tools for that?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

timothymh's solution is definitely the simplest if you just need to know occasionally, and is built-in, but if you need something more advanced (e.g. monitoring), then the following may be useful:

From the screenshots, inSSIDer actively displays which network you're currently connected to, but otherwise all three show lots of details of all networks your card can pick up, including channels, signal strength and BSSIDs.

If your aim is to test the coverage of wifi access points, you will probably find more benefit from something like NetSpot (free). This lets you map the signal strength as a 'heat map' in your home/office/etc, effectively letting you see where each/any access point is available from, where you will/won't get access, and how strong the signal will be.

Edit: To monitor AP switching, using the terminal, it is possible to watch the system logs:

tail -F /var/log/system.log | grep BSSID

Or simply use the console: Applications > Utilities > Console. In the filter write BSSID and you will see when your computer switches across BSSIDs.

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Brilliant tools! Netspot is something I will need this week, but unfortunately none of these tools does exactly what I need. – Coyote Oct 9 '12 at 9:27
You may need to be more specific in your question then, as these tools (or some combination of them, and perhaps built-ins like Activity Monitor or the Network preference pane) seem to be able to provide all the info you've asked for in real-time. – drfrogsplat Oct 10 '12 at 2:45
I agree with you, the question was not phrased properly. The tools pointed me to, and particularly NetSpot and iStumbler, helped me a lot in positioning my APs. I added a way to monitor BSSID roaming so your answer is now complete. – Coyote Oct 10 '12 at 11:10

Option-click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar. An assortment of information related to your connection, including the BSSID, is visible.


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I should have added that I want this information to be realtime. I don't want to have to refresh all the time. While using option click kind of works it doesn't update when the situation changes. – Coyote Oct 9 '12 at 0:26

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