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


10 Answers 10


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.

  • 5
    +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! May 30, 2017 at 3:28
  • 3
    This actually works!!
    – ascandroli
    Jun 27, 2017 at 9:57
  • 1
    i don't know how this works because it never works for me mac os heigh sierra and ios 11
    – Muhamed
    Oct 30, 2017 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. Oct 2, 2018 at 6:50
  • When I tried this on Monterey I get a scary vague warning: "If your computer is connected to a network, turning on Internet sharing may affect the network settings of other computers and disrupt the network. Contact your system administrator before turning on internet sharing.". Can you explain what this might mean more specifically?
    – scipilot
    Aug 4, 2023 at 10:29

This works on macOS 10.12 and iOS 10 without needing a jailbreak or other app.

Later macOS 10.13 enhanced this feature as part of asset caching and Apple Configurator 2 features for multiple iOS devices sharing the Mac network. This is out of the box support, built in to the OS with no extra first party apps or modifications needed.

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.

  • 1
    Wife unhappy with most-voted being Wi-Fi via Mac. Dec 14, 2015 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, 2017 at 12:11
  • 2
    This answer is out of date as of macOS Sierra. Sep 22, 2017 at 21:50
  • 1
    Thanks for the correction @AaronBrager. A major edit was needed.
    – bmike
    Sep 23, 2017 at 7:43

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


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.

  • 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, 2017 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, 2018 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.

  • Ha! I'd love to hear you elaborate on the hairdryer and freezer trick.
    – jungledev
    Jun 21, 2018 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.


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.


What you've described works for me (I'm sharing the Mac's Wi-Fi via USB iPhone). But it didn't work until I turned off both Wi-Fi and Mobile Data in my iPhone settings.

With Mobile Data turned off there's no indication in the top bar that anything is connected, but the internet is shared and works well!

This is using an M1 Macbook Air with macOS Big Sur, and iPhone 7 Plus with iOS 14.6.


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.


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.

  • 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, 2015 at 8:19

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