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I have enabled USB tethering from my iPhone to my MacBook pro, and it works perfectly.

Nevertheless, I would like to automatically disable USB tethering when the MacBook Pro is connected to a wireless network, to save mobile data consumption.

How can I configure that in OSX?

2 Answers 2


First things first, you do not need to worry too much about mobile data consumption when connected to Wi-Fi. As depicted in your picture, Wi-Fi is listed above the iPhone USB interface and will take precedence as the primary interface. In other words, all traffic will be sent to Wi-Fi until it is no longer available or you manually change the service order to have Wi-Fi listed BELOW the iPhone USB interface.

If, you really want to permanently disable that connection, you can do two things:

  1. Highlight iPhone USB, then select the "Deactivate" option from the cogwheel underneath the list (you can activate it the same way again later)
  2. Highlight iPhone USB, then click the minus ("-") button to remove it.

Again, deactivating or removing this interface is not important as long as other connected interfaces are listed ABOVE iPhone USB.

  • To save you having to reconfigure it later, if you used the above tactic, I would first Duplicate the existing setup [from Location], then make adjustments to the copy. That way you can switch back & forth at will.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 5, 2015 at 10:07

Recent versions of macOS, including Sierra, include a feature to automatically do what you seek, disabling the tethering device unless needed (i.e. no other network adapter is active):

Network Preferences Pane showing iPhone USB and Disable unless needed checkbok

This option only works if there are no other active interfaces, some of which might not appear in the network preferences pane (such as on late 2016 Macbook Pros).

  • 1
    Today I learned that the iPhone USB device must be lower in the list than an active device to be "unneeded" and thus made inactive. If it appears higher in the list than an active device, the USB device will be needed and not disabled. Thanks Lyndsey at Apple Support. Mar 28, 2018 at 1:33

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