How to Connect Ethernet to a Mac

How to use Ethernet on your Mac

What to Know

  • Most Ethernet connections connect automatically but if not, check via System Preferences > Network.
  • Most current Macs do not have an ethernet port built-in. Don't assume yours does until you check.
  • If yours does not, you can buy an Ethernet adapter to plug into one of your Mac's existing ports.

This article teaches you how to connect an Ethernet connection to your Mac. It looks at which Macs can do so and what to do if it's not working correctly. 

Do Macs Have Ethernet Ports?

Ethernet ports are not as prevalent on computer systems as they used to be, with many Macs no longer offering the functionality. It's important to double-check if your Mac or MacBook has an Ethernet port if you plan on using it.

Generally, the Mac Pro, iMac, and Mac mini range offer an ethernet port. Older MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs do, too, but you'll need to check on the side of your laptop to confirm this. Many more recent systems have dropped the standard, focusing on Wi-Fi connections instead.

Is There Anyway of Connecting Ethernet Cable to Macbook?

Yes, if your MacBook has an Ethernet port, do so. If it does, here's how to connect the Ethernet cable to your MacBook.

  1. Plug the Ethernet cable into your router or the other computer you wish to directly connect to your Mac.

  2. Plug the other end into the Ethernet port on your Mac.

  3. Make sure the internet connection is active or the device you want to connect your Mac to.

  4. Open a browser to test the connection.

Does Ethernet Connect Automatically to Mac?

Most of the time, yes. If you're plugging an Ethernet cable into an existing port, you don't tend to need to do anything more than that. However, if you're using an Ethernet adaptor or hub to connect via Ethernet on your Mac, you may need to change some settings. Here's where to check.

  1. Connect your adaptor to your Mac via the corresponding port such as USB or Thunderbolt. 

  2. Plug the Ethernet cable into the internet connection or other device you wish to connect, then plug it into your Mac's Ethernet adaptor.

  3. Click the Apple icon on the top left corner of your screen.

  4. Click System Preferences.

  5. Click Network.

    Mac System Preferences with Network highlighted
  6. Click the plus icon to search for the interface or click OK next to New Interface Detected if it shows up.

    Mac System Preferences Network options with the plus icon for adding a new device highlighted
  7. Enter a name for the device.

  8. Click Apply.

Why Is Ethernet Not Working on My Mac?

There are a few different reasons why your Ethernet may not be working on your Mac. Here's a brief overview of the most common causes and what you can do to rectify them.

  • You don't have an Ethernet port. Can't find a socket for your Ethernet cable? You may not have an Ethernet port. That's the case with most recent Macs, particularly with current Mac notebooks.
  • Your Ethernet adaptor doesn't work. If you've tried various settings or your Ethernet adaptor used to work but is suddenly malfunctioning, you may need to replace it.
  • Your Ethernet settings are wrong. Check your Ethernet settings are correct by clicking System Preferences > Network > the device name > Advanced
  • The Ethernet cable has failed. Try a different Ethernet cable if the existing one doesn't work or has failed somehow.
  • Your internet connection is down. Checked everything, and it should all be working? Check your internet connection is active elsewhere. It may be an issue with your connection rather than the Ethernet cable or port. 
  • How do I connect my Mac to the internet with an Ethernet cable?

    If you prefer a wired internet connection, plug your Mac directly into a router using an Ethernet cable and an Ethernet adapter if you need one. If your Mac doesn't connect to your router right away, you might also need to change settings from the Configure IPv4 drop-down menu or the Advanced menu from System Preferences > Network. Check with your internet service provider for the details you need.

  • How do I connect two Macs through Ethernet?

    If both Macs have an Ethernet port, use a standard RJ45 Ethernet cable to plug into each port. If your Macs don't have built-in Ethernet ports, use a USB Ethernet Adapter or a Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter to create the connection. Open Finder on one of your Macs and select Go > Connect to Server > Browse > select the other Mac > and enter a password if you have to.

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