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I have an iMac, connected to the Internet via Ethernet, and an iPhone 4. I would like to share the iMac's Internet connection to my iPhone via the USB Cable (because my wife dreams of a wifi-less household).

I've set up Internet Sharing, specifying "sharing from: Ethernet via: USB IPhone", but when I test, the iPhone cannot connect to the Internet. Is there something I need to activate on the iPhone?

iMac, mac os x version: Mountain Lion, 10.8.4 iPhone 4, IOS Version: 6.1

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How did you set up that Internet Connection Sharing? Which OS are you using? Could you upload a screen capture? –  Thecafremo Apr 11 '13 at 8:14
Settings > Sharing > Share Internet Connection. –  pixeline Apr 11 '13 at 20:10
That way you're sharing the internet connection of your iPhone into your Computer, not the other way round. –  Thecafremo Apr 11 '13 at 21:49
so you mean i should set it up as "sharing from: USB Iphone via: Ethernet" ? –  pixeline Apr 12 '13 at 22:37

5 Answers 5

From the iPhone / iOS perspective, USB tethering only works in one direction - internet service can flow out of the device but not in to the device.

A cellular data device is capable of turning on tethering whereby it will serve as a router for one device that connects over USB. Even though Mac OS will offer to do the same, iOS will not listen for an active Internet connection over USB and only will tether to a computer over Wi-Fi.

On a technical level, USB is an asymmetrical protocol with one host that communicates to all downstream endpoints. Just like you can connect a USB hard drive to a computer but not reverse that flow and get the hard drive to act as the host and the computer to act as the drive (even though many hard drives now have computers in them and your computer could work as a hard drive and just store data - this is exactly how Target Disk mode sharing works over Firewire and Thunderbolt and other symmetrical protocols like ethernet, Wi-Fi and potentially Bluetooth).

Practically - your Mac will tether to an iPhone/iPad and can receive internet service over USB, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. In the reverse direction for the software you list, only Wi-Fi is viable for the Mac to share it's internet to the iPhone (or iOS device).

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I do not know of any method that exists at this point in time. It would only be possible with a jailbroken device as Apple doesn't offer this feature.

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You used to be able to do Bluetooth PAN sharing to all iDevices. Now, it appears it works sporadically for iPad device only. Most iPhones are reported as not working. It was working at one point, and Genius Bar verified that it is no longer supported. Apple may view their icloud functionality as trumping and making computer-to-iDevice connections unnecessary.

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You may have to reboot your Mac. Share Ethernet via Wifi (do not tell your wife) When it works, the wifi icon on the Mac is a fan with an exclamation mark on it.

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Apple does offer this feature, otherwise it will not allow us to set it up in the first place. Came on here with the same problem...

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This might need some more explanation, since plainly it doesn't work. iOS hardware has never accepted an Internet connection coming in over USB even though it is happy to send an Internet connection out from USB. –  bmike Aug 29 '13 at 11:27
This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. –  JamiePatt Aug 30 '13 at 2:13

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