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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    >52000 views and Apple still doesn't care to enable this feature. Sometimes cellular and WiFi both aren't decent options. I know it is theoretically possible though, my old Pocket PC used to have internet from USB. – kal-al Aug 19 '16 at 3:24
  • You didn’t have much longer to wait @kal-al for Apple to ship this feature for everyone. Pixieline and the rest, the wait was a bit longer indeed. – bmike Sep 23 '17 at 7:51

Starting with later versions of macOS 10.12 and iOS 10 this is now possible out of the box. macOS 10.13 enhanced this feature as part of asset caching and Apple Configurator 2 features for multiple iOS devices sharing the Mac network.

Before iOS 10 and macOS 10.13, USB tethering only worked in one direction or for one device. Before macOS 10.12 - internet service used to flow out of iOS but not in to iOS from a Mac over USB.

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    Wife unhappy with most-voted being Wi-Fi via Mac. – Tom Roggero Dec 14 '15 at 17:35
  • There is no technical limitation. With the right program installed on a jailbroken iPhone you could easily do such a reverse-tether through USB. – xApple Apr 6 '17 at 12:11
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    This answer is out of date as of macOS Sierra. – Aaron Brager Sep 22 '17 at 21:50
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    Thanks for the correction @AaronBrager. A major edit was needed. – bmike Sep 23 '17 at 7:43

The method you described will share your Internet connection to your iPhone on recent Macs and iPhones. Specifically, on macOS Sierra, follow the instructions in the Apple Support Article, macOS Sierra: Share the Internet connection on your Mac but choose to share your Internet to computers using iPhone USB.

  1. On your Mac, open System Preferences and click on Sharing.

  2. Enable Internet Sharing by clicking the checkbox.

  3. In the Share your connection from pop-up menu, select Ethernet (or Thunderbolt Ethernet on MacBooks using the Thunderbolt-Ethernet adapter).

  4. In the To computers using list, select iPhone USB.

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    +1, This worked for me, MacBook Air (early 2015), Mac OS Sierra 10.12.5, shared wifi connection (GoGoInflight) to USB-tethered iPhone 6s running iOS 10.3.2. Thanks for the tip! – Peter Gluck May 30 '17 at 3:28
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    This actually works!! – ascandroli Jun 27 '17 at 9:57
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    i don't know how this works because it never works for me mac os heigh sierra and ios 11 – Muhamed Oct 30 '17 at 6:12
  • Just as an aside, this will result in double NAT-ing in most cases. It also will not matter in most use cases with an iOS device, but if you wanted to bridge the USB connection to your LAN, you can create a virtual bridge interface with just the network service using your ethernet, then use ifconfig to add the iPhone USB to the bridge. No real benefits to do this (other than slightly improved jitter) but it's an alternate setup that makes some things easier, like monitoring traffic using the Mac. – kumowoon1025 Oct 2 '18 at 6:50

Before iOS 10, the only method that existed would be possible with a jailbroken device as Apple didn’t offer this feature before then.

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It is possible by using Apple's development tool what is usually used to intercept app's traffic, but it also do iPhone→Mac→Internet tethering.

Remote Packet Capture for iOS devices is about sniffing apps' traffic, but there is also easy step-by-step guide how to send traffic throught Mac. Just follow paragraphs between "Remote Virtual Interfaces" and "Using tcpdump" headers.

If command rvictl is missing in your computer, you probably need to install the command line tools included in Xcode.

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  • Can you provide a link or further information about “apple’s development tool” and what how you can do share internet to iPhone using it? – Alex Brown Oct 15 '17 at 21:48
  • Can you explain how rvictl can be used a proxy for the mobile device's traffic? To me it looks like it is only capable of capturing traffic, not replacing or serving it. – Elist Apr 22 '18 at 10:18

I can share my MacBook Pro's (macOS Sierra) wi-fi internet connection to my iPhone SE (iOS 10.3.3) without trouble. There's no special setting on the iPhone. Just turn off wi-fi on the phone and it automatically connects to the internet via a USB->Lightning cable to the MacBook Pro.

I had no success with my old iPhone 4S, which could really benefit from internet sharing via USB because its wi-fi antenna periodically craps out, and I have to revive it with a hairdryer and freezer, which can be inconvenient, especially on the road.

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  • Ha! I'd love to hear you elaborate on the hairdryer and freezer trick. – jungledev Jun 21 '18 at 9:10

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 can also share IMac Ethernet to Ipad/Iphone over an addtional Ethernet cable, but it requires second Ethernet port /Ethernet Switch, a powered USB Hub and an additional Ethernet Adapter, plus a standard micro/usb cable, as shown here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKp02y4JXVs Not very elegant, but functional. Blutooth Tethering works also, but mainly with Ipads and Android Devices.

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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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Yes you can share your ethernet, usb dongle internet with your iphone/ipad devices. Just came across this how-to: How to share a Wi-Fi connection from a Mac to an iPhone. Hope this helps for you and other folks who are facing this issue.

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  • That link was for sharing a non-wifi connection with an iPhone using the Mac as a wifi router. Not quite an answer to the original question, as the Author wanted a "wifi-less household". – Eric Hu Dec 11 '15 at 8:19

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