I have a MacBook Pro 2009 running MacOS El Capitan. Recently the Wi-Fi has stopped working.

When I click on the Wi-Fi icon it displays the message "No hardware installed", but Ethernet still works.

Is there any way of fixing this by using a Wi-Fi dongle or something of the sort, if so do I need a specific dongle and how do I install it?

  • Had the same issue with my mac, none of the solutions here worked, just have to reinstall .. Mar 10, 2021 at 18:31

6 Answers 6


If you are getting the message "No hardware Installed" it means that macOS is not detecting your WiFi adapter for one of two reasons:

  • It's not installed (it physically doesn't exist)
  • It has failed

Chances are it's the second option.

You can confirm this by running Apple Hardware Test (AHT). Hold the D key while booting from a powered off state with the AC adapter connected.

Regardless if the first or the second, you will probably have to replace it with another Airport card

enter image description here

ifixit.com has an excellent tutorial and step-by-step guide on how to replace the board. It's a time consuming repair - I wouldn't say difficult, but more detail oriented. If this is not your cup of tea, I recommend taking it in for service.

  • Came to this page via Google Airways. I was super impressed with ifixit.com. Great detailed steps to perform the repair and they also sell all the components. Really great experience! Sadly in my case changing the Airport card didn't fix the issue, same behaviour as before: Wifi dies suddenly and without warning and I get the Wifi Off icon in the top bar. Turning it back On doesn't work.
    – Edi
    May 17, 2018 at 17:11
  • 1
    None of the answers on this page worked for me. The answer on this page by Linc Davis (discussions.apple.com/thread/7315709), solved the issue. In short, I moved all the files in /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration except the file named com.apple.Boot.plist to the Trash. Then I restarted my computer and my wifi was back!
    – Matt
    Nov 23, 2018 at 10:18
  • 👏🏻! I would add a third cause of failure: bad contact. Due to vibration or hit, one of the Wi-Fi card connectors could have a bad contact
    – dan
    Jun 6, 2020 at 9:38

I had this same problem. I reset NVRAM and SMC to no effect. I also ran the Apple Hardware Test and it came back as a hardware problem. But...

But then I did this, and my wifi was back, working just like new.

  1. Switch to Finder

  2. Click on 'Go' (top menu) -> 'Go to Folder...'

  3. Copy and paste this into the field: /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration

  4. Find and trash NetworkInterfaces.plist, com.apple.airport.preferences.plist, com.apple.wifi.message-tracer.plist

  5. Reboot

I would suggest making a copy of this file, naming it something different and storing it on your desktop before deleting the file - just in case. But this worked for me. Hope it works for you.

  • 1
    Beware: it is highly possible that the reboot did a temporary fix. You are right on one point: resetting the NVRAM and SMC is just religion.[return] I am convinced the AHT was right.
    – dan
    Jun 6, 2020 at 9:40

Try resetting the NVRAM and SMC first before going out and spending money on a new WiFi adapter. You can do this by:


  1. Reboot the Mac and immediately hold down Command + Option + P + R keys together
  2. Continue holding all Command+Option+P+R keys until you hear the Mac reboot sound again, then release all keys concurrently


  1. Plug the laptop into a power source
  2. Press and hold all of these keys at the same time: Control + Shift + Option + Power
  3. Release the keys
  4. Press the Power button to turn it back on

If that doesn't fix it, then you might need to buy an adapter. There are a lot of good ones out there that work with Macs. I would just go to your favorite online retailer and search WiFi adapters for Mac. That should bring you plenty of options.

  • This consistently fixes the same problem for me, though it fails again any time the battery runs all the way down.
    – TextGeek
    Aug 12, 2019 at 12:06
  • To be honest, resetting the NVRAM or the SMC can't fix a Wi-Fi problem. YOu can even check there is nothing related to Wi-Fi configuration in NVRAM with: /usr/bin/sudo nvram -p. I would say this is an old piece of advice repeated since more than 15 years with no real checking that the real temporary change was simply due to the reboot.
    – dan
    Jun 6, 2020 at 9:24

It could be the ribbon cable connecting the airport board to the logic board, allegedly they wear out.

There is a good explanation here: http://warrantyvoidifremoved.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/repairing-intermittent-wifiwireless-on.html?m=1


Fixed this on mine by running Apple Hardware Test (AHT).

  1. Hold the D key immediately after boot to enter AHT.
  2. Plug your computer in.
  3. Run test. Test took ~ 4 minutes.
  4. Click on link to start Recovery mode.
  5. Wifi worked in there. Shutdown.
  6. Boot up normally.

Sometimes just reinstalling the last used/latest macOS Version can help. Also pay attention to tools you may use such as Continuity Activation tool and similar, which are quite…messy sometimes.

Continuity Activation has a problem under El Capitan going from a Macbook pro 8 to a 9 ie from late 2010 machines to mi 2012 machines the last batch of that kind of MacBook Pro (with firewire)...

You need to de-install Continuity Activation ! I upgraded my machine taking my old drive from one machine to the next and wifi reworked only after de-installing it.

In fact you dont need Continuity Activation on mid2012 as they are already airport capable without patch and extra dongle !

  • Good point about tools that modify and patch the system.
    – bmike
    Jun 6, 2020 at 9:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .