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Normally, Safari provides a pop-up window for the public Wi-Fi's landing page: requesting the user to agree to TOS (Terms of Service).

Attempts to login to Wi-Fi were not successful because of the absence of the landing page:

  • ifconfig revealed an IP address (172.31.99.185) was assigned to the laptop's Wi-Fi adapter
  • attempts to ping 172.31.99.1 failed
  • browsing to http://172.31.99.1/ failed
  • browsing to http://www.google.com/ failed

Is there a Safari menu item or process that will call the TOS pop-up?

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10 Answers 10

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Go to http://captive.apple.com it’s the only way to ensure it pops up.

Apple now supports DHCP option 114 (as of iOS 14 iirc) to let network operators define a non-default captive URL trigger and suggests the full URL is http://captive.apple.com/hotspot-detect.html

The shorter URL works great for me as does this explainer of how to drop and signal auto log in on these captive networks:

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If the captive portal auto detection doesn't work, and hitting a common domain (like google.com), try a domain you don't normally visit (and hence won't be cached anywhere). Try borg.org, for example.

If that still doesn't get you the landing page, it's time for extreme measures. You can get more information about the DHCP config it got with ipconfig getpacket en0 (or en1, or whatever the Wi-Fi interface is); look especially at the "server_identifier" (the server that sent the info), "router", and "domain_name_server" lines. Try hitting those in your browser and see if any get you a landing page.

Still nothing? Next try host www.cnn.com x.x.x.x where x.x.x.x is the domain name server (if there are several, try with each). If you get back any IPs that weren't already on the list, try them in a browser.

BTW, the reason this sometimes doesn't work automatically is basically that it's all highly nonstandard. Captive portals are a hack that someone came up with to control access to a wireless network in a way that the standards didn't handle. Lots of other manufacturers copied the idea, but everyone did it a little differently, and it hijacked real web pages in the browser, and was generally a mess. So Apple built a system into macOS that'd try to detect captive portals and display the landing page automatically, in a way that didn't hijack the browser... but since there are so many variants on the idea, it's hard to build a system that handles them all. And then sometimes the local network admin sets things up weirdly, and... basically, it's a hack to get around another hack, and as a result there are a lot of ways for it to fail. Frankly, I'm kind of amazed it works as often as it does.

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If you’re using a DNS service like 1.1.1.1 or Google DNS, try disabling it temporarily until you’re fully connected. I’ve had success with this technique.

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On macOS 10.15 I had to

  1. go to System Preferences-> Network -> Wifi -> Advanced -> Proxies
  2. enable "Auto Proxy Discovery"
  3. restart my Mac

Other things I tried prior that did not solve the problem:

  • navigating to a non-https site (http://neverssl.com is my goto)
  • navigating to a well-known (even though https) site: google.com
  • navigating to the router's IP address
    • This did for a second attempt to route to the login page (you could see it in the URL bar), but it didn't load.
  • removing this network and (restarting the computer before) reconnecting to it.
  • ensuring that my DNS settings were defaults (rather than e.g. google's or cloudflare's)

n.b. I was at Starbucks.

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Usually www.cnn.com works for me, but not lately on my Mac Air. What worked was opening up Safari browser and entering www.purple.com . The login page popped up immediately!

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The biggest culprit was Kasperski anti-virus software. I uninstalled the software on my Macbook, and I'm now able to get the popup to work at Starbucks. Keep in mind - deleting Kasperski (or any other anti-virus) app won't do it. You have to use the uninstall program.

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I used to frequently run into this problem in older versions of macOS, such as Mavericks. I always worked around it by navigating directly to the address of the wifi router.

  1. option + click on the wifi icon in your menu bar, and look for the line that says Router: followed by an IP address (a series of dots and numbers). In a majority of cases, the address will be 192.168.1.1

  2. In your web browser, navigate to http:// followed by the IP address from step 1. So in the most common case, I would navigate to http://192.168.1.1

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  • If the Mac's wifi is connected to a Wifi access point, the AP's IP address can be also retrieved from the command line with route get default | grep gateway
    – gatorback
    Nov 10, 2019 at 15:23
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Usually captive portals are triggered by DNS and web browser requests to sites like cnn.com or nyt.com so I would try that first.

The “magic” url that seems to work across Apple OS is http://captive.apple.com/hotspot-detect.html and in practice, I rarely have to add the hotspot-detect.html to http://captive.apple.com/

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Many people use alternative DNS servers like Google or Cloudflare. Captive Portals depend on using their own DNS resolution. Try going to Wifi settings and clearing your custom DNS settings. I was at Starbucks and tried the captive.apple.com which did not work and then cleared the custom DNS settings which the portal then did pop up.

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  • 1
    Please consider adding DNS clearing instructions (preferably command line) to your answer: this will help other users.
    – gatorback
    Jan 17 at 18:16
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Gordon’s answer is very good. There is a situation where it won’t work:

I just realized that this issue can also happen if in the advanced network configuration you have configured a custom DNS IP address.

Check and to fix, simply go to

System Preferences -> Network -> WiFi -> Advanced… -> DNS

and see if there are only IP addresses that are greyed out (good) or if you have IP addresses in normal (bright) letters (bad).

If you find custom configured IP addresses, just click on each and the “-“ button at the bottom left of the window.

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