How to Connect a Hotspot to a Laptop

Use a mobile hotspot to get online while on the go

What to Know

  • First, turn on the mobile hotspot on your smartphone, usually through Settings > Mobile Hotspot or a similar option.
  • Then, connect to the hotspot Wi-Fi network on your laptop like you would any other network.
  • For devices without Wi-Fi support, you can also tether to your phone via USB and Bluetooth.

This guide will explain how to connect your laptop to a smartphone Wi-Fi hotspot.

How Do I Connect My Mobile Hotspot to My Laptop?

Before connecting your laptop to a mobile hotspot, you first need to start a mobile hotspot. The process for doing so is slightly different depending on your device and whether it's an Android or iOS handset. It's doable in both cases, though.

For iPhone users, follow these steps to enable a mobile hotspot on an iPhone.

For Android users, follow these steps to enable a mobile hotspot on an Android phone.

Once your mobile hotspot is up and running, follow these steps to connect your laptop to the hotspot Wi-Fi network.

  1. Start up your laptop and login if necessary, then, if it isn't already, enable Wi-Fi.

  2. If you're on Windows 10 or 11, select the Wi-Fi icon in the taskbar to access the list of available Wi-Fi networks. Locate your mobile hotspot in the list and select it (if you're unsure what its SSID is, check your phone's hotspot menu). Then select Connect.

    Wi-Fi options in Windows 10.
    The Zenfone 8_2500 network is the mobile hotspot for a Zenfone 8 smartphone.

    In macOS, the Wi-Fi symbol is in the top-right status bar. You should see a list of available Wi-Fi networks, with your iPhone listed at the top under Personal Hotspot. Select it.

    If you don't see the Wi-Fi symbol in the macOS status bar, navigate to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Network then select Wi-Fi in the sidebar, and select Show Wi-Fi status in menu bar.

    MacOS Wi-Fi connection options.


  3. In both Windows and macOS, you will then be prompted for the network password. You'll be able to see this password on your Android or iOS smartphone, so check it there, and then type it into your laptop.

    Inputting the network security password for a Wi-Fi hotspot on Windows 10.

As long as the password was input correctly, you should then be automatically connected to the hot spot Wi-Fi network and can browse the internet or perform any other connected tasks as if you were using your phone.

Why Is My Laptop Not Connecting to My Mobile Hospot?

If you can see your phone's mobile hotspot, but it doesn't connect when you try the password, it may be that you're getting the password wrong—double-check how you input it and try again. You can also change the password using your smartphone's hotspot settings, then try again.

If you can't see the network at all, make sure your smartphone is close enough to your laptop to detect it and that you have enabled the hotspot on your phone and it is set up and running.

Some smartphones have the option only to allow select devices to connect to the mobile hotspot. If your phone has that option, make sure it is disabled, or at the least, your laptop is on the allowed list; otherwise, it won't be able to connect.

If you still can't connect, consider using USB or Bluetooth tethering instead.

  • How do I change a hotspot's name?

    In iOS, your hotspot will be the name of your phone. To change it, go to Settings > General > About > Name and type a new one. On an Android device, swipe down from the top of the screen to open the Quick Settings menu, and then tap and hold Hotspot. Turn on the Wi-Fi hotspot, and type its name to change it.

  • How do I use a mobile hotspot without using data?

    Since the information from the mobile hotspot has to come from somewhere, you can't create or use one without tapping into your cellular data. The best you can do is use as little data as you can while it's active.

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