How to Connect a Mac to a Router

Use your Mac with a wired network connection

What to Know

  • Connect a USB-to-Ethernet adapter if your Mac doesn’t have an Ethernet port.
  • Plug one end of an Ethernet cable into your router or modem and the other into your Mac or adapter.
  • If needed, go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Network > Ethernet, and enter the settings provided by your ISP.

This article explains how to connect a Mac to a router via Ethernet cable.

How Do I Connect My Router to My Mac?

If you have a wireless router, you can connect your Mac to your router via Wi-Fi or a physical Ethernet cable. Wi-Fi is often more convenient, but a wired Ethernet connection is more reliable and faster. If you have a router that doesn’t support wireless connections, then Ethernet is your only option.

Some Macs have Ethernet ports, but many don’t. For example, the Mac mini and iMac Pro both have Ethernet ports, while the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro don’t have Ethernet ports. If you have a Mac without an Ethernet port, you can connect a USB-to-Ethernet adapter and connect your Ethernet cable to the adapter.

In many cases, your Mac will automatically connect to your router when you connect them via Ethernet cable. The connection can take a little while to establish, but it’s usually automatic. If you find it doesn’t happen automatically, then you’ll need to obtain some information from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and configure the connection on your Mac.

The steps below are only if your Mac doesn't automatically switch over or start using the connection via the ethernet cable you've just attached. It's rare for this automatic connection to fail.

Here’s how to connect a router to a Mac:

  1. Check to see if your Mac has an Ethernet port and connect an adapter if it only has USB ports.

    An Ethernet adapter connected to a Mac.

  2. Connect an Ethernet cable to your router.

    An Ethernet cable connected to a router.

  3. Connect the other end of the cable to your Mac or your adapter.

    An Ethernet cable connected to a Mac.

  4. Wait for the connection to establish, and then check to see if your Mac has access to the internet.

  5. If the connection didn’t occur automatically, contact your ISP, and ask for the following information:

    • Does the ISP assign IP addresses automatically?
    • If not, ask what to enter for your IP address.
    • Does the ISP use BootP?
    • If the ISP requires manual configuration, what's the IP address, subnet mask, and router address?
    • What is the IP address of the ISP’s DNS server?
    • Are there any other settings the ISP provides, like IPv6, proxy server, or additional settings?
  6. Once you’ve obtained the necessary information from your ISP, click the Apple icon > System Preferences on your Mac.

    System Preferences in the Apple menu.
  7. Click Network.

    Network in Mac System Preferences.
  8. Click Ethernet.

    Ethernet in the Mac network settings.

    If you're using a USB adapter, you will need to click on USB instead of Ethernet.

  9. Click the Configure IPv4 menu, and make a selection based on the information you got from your ISP:

    • Using DHCP: Select this option if your ISP assigns IP addresses automatically.
    • Using DHCP with manual address: Select this option if your ISP told you to enter a specific IP address.
    • Using BootP: Select this if your ISP said they use BootP.
    • Manually: Select this if your ISP told you to enter everything manually and provided an IP address, subnet mask, and router address.
    IPv4 options on a Mac.
  10. Enter the IP address or any other information that's required with the configuration method you selected, then click Advanced.

    Advanced in Mac Network settings.
  11. Click DNS.

    DNS in Network settings on a Mac.
  12. Click + below DNS servers.

    + in DNS settings on a Mac.
  13. Enter the DNS provided by your ISP and search domain addresses if your ISP provided them, then click OK.

    Entering DNS in Mac Network settings.

    You can also use a free public DNS like Google or Cloudflare.

  14. If your ISP provided any additional settings, like IPv6 or proxy server, click the appropriate tab and enter them at this time.

  15. Click Apply.

    Apply in Mac Network settings.
  16. Your Mac is now connected to your router.

Why Won’t My Mac Connect to My Router?

When a Mac doesn’t connect to a router, it’s usually because of configuration issues. Most of the time, it’s sufficient to make the connection and let the Mac configure everything automatically, but that doesn’t always work. So if your Mac won’t connect to your router, the first thing to do is contact your ISP as described above and manually configure your Mac using their information.

If your Mac still won’t connect to your router, here are some other potential issues you can check:

  1. Check the connections. Try unplugging the Ethernet cable on both ends and plugging it back in. It should snap in securely on both ends.

  2. Try a different Ethernet cable. If you have another Ethernet cable, check to see if the connection works with it. Ethernet cables can have internal damage that isn’t easy to see.

  3. Reboot your network hardware. Try disconnecting the ethernet cable, then unplug your router and modem. Leave the router and modem unplugged for a little while, then plug them back in. Once everything is powered up, you can reconnect the Ethernet cable to see if that fixed the problem.

  4. Reboot your Mac. Try shutting your Mac down and then turning it back on. The Ethernet connection may work after the Mac starts back up.

  • How do I connect my Mac to a printer through the router?

    To manually install a printer on your Mac, you may need to connect the printer to your Mac with a USB cable to set up Wi-Fi printing. Then, go to System Preferences > Printers & Scanners and select the printer or click + to add the printer. Finally, select the Default tab, click on the printer name, and click Add.

  • How do I connect to my router from my Mac automatically?

    You can set up multiple network locations on your Mac so that it automatically connects to the Wi-Fi network in the places you use it most, such as home, work, and school. Go to System Preferences > Network > Edit Locations > Automatic Location > + > enter a location name > Done

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