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How to create a Wi-Fi hotspot (infrastructure network, not ad-hoc) on a Mac without any Internet connection?

In Windows, we can easily create an infrastructure wifi LAN hotspot with:

netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=MyWifi key=12345678
netsh wlan start hostednetwork

It is compatible with most devices like Android/Windows/Mac/iOS, and it does not require an available Internet connection.

So, is there a similar solution on OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) that:

  • can create a Wi-Fi hotspot;
  • compatible with most devices;
  • does not require an Internet connection?
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  • Sounds like an ad-hoc network. I don't have my MacBook to give you exact instructions, but in network connections dialog, when you select your wireless card I believe there's a button to open the ad-hoc network setup.
    – Brian Duke
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 14:19
  • 3
    @user3623501 I have tried the "create network" option under the wifi button on status bar. But it gives an Ad-hoc hotspot with low compatibility. Win 8/8.1/Android is not supported. While these commands above creates an infrastructure hotspot with better compatibility. What’s the Difference Between Ad-Hoc and Infrastructure Mode?
    – Eana Hufwe
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 15:13
  • Can you do it from within Windows running in a virtual machine on your mac :P ? Commented May 5, 2015 at 19:24
  • @CousinCocaine , I've tried it on Windows VM running on Parallel and VMWare, neither of them can directly use the Airport on my Macbook. But with an external WIFI Card, it could be possible.
    – Eana Hufwe
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 11:15
  • I'm going to link this to the pre-existing question on how to do this. As there are lots of new requirements showing up in comments to answers, I would encourage a new question or two to answer those questions (i.e. how to start the daemons for internet sharing manually and a software recommendation for WPA infrastructure mode and now WEP mode)
    – bmike
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 11:58

3 Answers 3

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In System Preferences, go to networking and connect your Mac to a wired network. Firewire or thunderbolt or ethernet (with or without an adapter) is needed to have a physical connection in the green or orange state. You need a link up and not necessarily a viable connection to any network.

Then go into Sharing and enable Internet Sharing, there, share the connection of something you aren't using (say, for example, thunderbolt ethernet) then other computers can connect to it as if it was a WiFi hotspot and features that use LAN will work perfectly fine. If that LAN has a route to the internet it will work

This method allows OS X to act as a software router and avoids the wireless network being created in an ad-hoc mode with it's limitations.

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  • Just tried it on my Macbook, OS X 10.10.3. Without connecting to any external device, the system refuse to create an AP, despite Internet sharing is turned on, regardless which option is chosen for "Share your connection from".
    – Eana Hufwe
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 10:59
  • @EanaHufwe You have to pick WiFi as your output, nothing else
    – Sébastien
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 12:15
  • Yes, I've only ticked "Wi-Fi" in the "To computers using" box, but it doesn't work for me.
    – Eana Hufwe
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 13:15
  • @EanaHufwe What device are you using?
    – Sébastien
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 14:37
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13 inch, Mid-2014) running OS X Yosemite 10.10.3. Wi-Fi scan tested with Samsung Galaxy Note 3 running Android 5.1.1
    – Eana Hufwe
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 10:54
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That function seems to be limited to only Apple devices. Why? I wish I could explain why Apple does what it does sometimes. Anyway, there is a utility called "airport" which can be accessed from Terminal:

/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/airport -h

(that command will print out the help page. Also you might want to "pipe" to "more" because it is quite lengthy)

airport -h | more

There used to be a "-i" option (lowercase "i"; the uppercase still works) that allowed you to "create" networks, but that seems to be gone. I used it a few times years ago to create ad-hoc networks years ago but found that I could keep a small Netgear or Linksys handy that would handle DHCP, security, etc. for me much easier than it was for me to configure ad-hoc networks.

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  • What is "this function" referring to? Perhaps AirDrop? I totally agree and +1 for just using a cheap hardware router in this case. Soon with BeagleBone, Intel Edison and the extremely popular CHIP $9 Computer having a little battery/USB powered UNIX server will be second nature.
    – bmike
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 11:57
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From the question: Create AirPort network from the command line?

A program compiled from source code on https://gist.github.com/wolever/4418079 do works on 10.10, and it creates an infrastructure AP. But, it only allows a WEP password, which is not considered safe. So, I'll keep this question open for a better solution.

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  • Let's open a new question asking for a software recommendation on how to raise a pure software WPA network. Having a basic solution with an accepted answer will help many out.
    – bmike
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 11:53

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