How to Connect Your PC to Your Mobile Hotspot

Share your phone's internet with your PC, with or without a cable

What to Know

  • Wired: On PC, turn off Wi-Fi > turn on hotspot on phone > plug phone into PC. PC should connect to it automatically.
  • Wireless: On phone, turn on hotpot > use PC to find phone's Wi-Fi signal > connect.

This article explains how to connect your PC to a hotspot created on your mobile device. This will let you share your phone's mobile internet connection with your laptop or desktop, something you might need to do if there's no Wi-Fi where you are. We'll also look at the differences between various hotspot connection types: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB.

The screenshots and steps described in this article are relevant specifically to a PC running Windows 11, and a Pixel phone running Android 12. The steps vary slightly between other devices; some of those differences are called out below.

How Do I Connect My Personal Hotspot to My Computer?

Follow these steps if you want to set up USB tethering on your phone to share internet with just one other device, or skip down to the next section to learn about making a wireless hotspot. Using a USB connection is ideal if security and battery life are concerns.

  1. Turn off Wi-Fi on your computer. If there's a wireless network in range, you don't want to accidentally connect to it, since the plan is to use your phone's connection instead.

    Wi-Fi is off prompt highlighted in Windows 11.
  2. Plug one end of your phone's USB cable into a free USB port on your computer, and attach the other end to your device.

  3. Start the hotspot on your phone. It's called Personal Hotspot on iPhone/iPad, and hotspot & tethering on some Android phones. Those links describe all the necessary steps to get to the right screen and enable the hotspot.

    If you're using Android, choose USB tethering from that screen. Apple users need to have iTunes installed.

    Steps to enable USB tetherin in Android 12 on Pixel phone.
  4. Your PC should connect to the hotspot automatically. See the tips at the bottom of this page if it's not working.

How Can I Connect My Mobile Hotspot to PC Without USB Cable?

You can share your phone's internet with your computer over a wireless connection, too. It opens up the network to more than just one computer, so all your devices can share the same internet connection.

Wi-Fi is the fastest option, but if you'd rather connect your hotspot to your PC with Bluetooth, see how to get internet on your PC with a Bluetooth-enabled phone for those directions. Toward the bottom of this page is a look at Wi-Fi vs Bluetooth hotspots.

  1. Turn on the hotspot on your phone (see steps above for help).

    Steps in Android 12 to enable a hotspot and tethering on a Pixel phone.

    Setup directions vary considerably if you're using a dedicated mobile hotspot not built-in to your phone. You might need to simply power it on and follow the steps you see on its screen, or there might be a mobile app you pair with the hotspot to complete setup. Directions are provided with the hotspot upon purchase, but they should also be available from the manufacturer's website.

  2. Connect to the newly made wireless network from your computer.

    To connect to a network in Windows 11, select the network icon by the clock, select Manage Wi-Fi connections next to the Wi-Fi icon, and then select the hotspot you made in the previous step.

    Selecting the hotspot from a Pixel phone in Windows 11.
  3. After a few seconds, the active network on your computer should be the hotspot you created from your phone. If the internet isn't working from your computer, see the tips at the bottom of this page.

What's Better for Hotspots: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB?

It seems redundant to have so many options just for a hotspot, but each of these connection methods have their own unique benefits and costs.

Here are some things to consider when choosing between these options for a PC:

  • Wi-Fi: The ability to connect several devices to the hotspot is convenient, and you can choose a specific hotspot name and password to use for added security. But older computers don't have built-in Wi-Fi, and battery draining is a concern if you're not plugged in.
  • Bluetooth: Not all computers have Bluetooth connectivity, only one device can use this connection at a time, and it'll likely offer the slowest speeds. Pick this if USB isn't an option but power consumption is a concern, since it probably won't demand as much power from your phone as Wi-Fi will.
  • USB: A physical connection is more secure than a wireless one because nefarious users nearby can't attach to the network. Your phone will charge in the process, so it's also a good way to save phone battery while using the hotspot. However, you'll need a free USB port on the PC, and the phone must be plugged in at all times, which isn't ideal if you want the flexibility to move the phone around the room.

Watch Your Mobile Hotspot Data Usage

All three of those connection types use your phone's data plan to reach the internet. Be aware of this if you have a limited data plan. Some carriers offer even less data to hotspots than they do normal connections.

This means everything you do on your computer while it's connected to your phone's hotspot, will eat away at your mobile data. Even if you have unlimited data, you might still be restricted in terms of how much hotspot data, specifically, you can use throughout the month. Check with your mobile operator for specific details.

It's important to avoid downloading or uploading huge files on your computer, and updating your PC's software while it's using the hotspot. Those are activities you might not think twice about when using your computer at home, but you should definitely rethink how you use the internet when data is limited. Check out these other ways you can reduce mobile data usage.

Most devices make it easy to monitor your data usage, and some even let you set up data usage alerts. It's recommended to keep an eye on it so you'll know when you're approaching or when you've reached the limit you impose for yourself.

Why Is My PC Not Connecting to a Mobile Hotspot?

Below are several ideas for what you can do if your computer can't reach the internet through the hotspot.

  • Make sure the PC's Wi-Fi is disabled if you're connected over USB. The computer might still be reaching for a Wi-Fi network, or maybe it's connected to a Wi-Fi network with no internet access.
  • Double-check the hotspot on your phone shows an internet connection. You might need to contact your carrier if this is your first time trying to use the hotspot; they might need to enable the feature on their end, or you might need to pay extra to create a hotspot.
  • Is your computer too far from your phone? If you're using the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth option, you've probably walked too far from your PC for the connection to remain established.
  • Did your phone have an active mobile internet connection prior to making the hotspot? A valid connection on your phone is necessary for your computer to ultimately use it. Turn airplane mode on and then off, to refresh the connection, or see what to do when mobile data isn't working.
  • Unless you subscribe to an unlimited data plan with your mobile carrier, there's an upper limit to how much data can pass through your phone. Your plan's data might have been paused if you reached its limit. You can usually contact your mobile operator to get more data.
  • A "tethering has no internet" message might appear on your phone if you tried to turn the hotspot on, but airplane mode was already on. Disable airplane mode and try again.
  • See how to fix hotspot issues on iPhone or how to fix USB tethering issues in Windows, if you're still having trouble.
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