How to Set up and Use iPhone Tethering

Get Wi-Fi on the go courtesy of your cell data provider

Tethering allows you to use your iPhone or cellular-enabled iPad as a wireless modem for a computer when it is not in range of a Wi-Fi signal. When you use tethering to set up a Personal Hotspot, anywhere your iPhone or iPad can access a cellular signal, your computer can get online too.

Before you can set up a Personal Hotspot, contact your cellular provider to add this service to your account. There is usually a fee for the service. Some cellular providers do not support tethering, but AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Cricket, US Cellular, and T-Mobile do support it.

of 03

Turn on Personal Hotspot

Phone and computer
heshphoto/Getty Images

You'll need an iPhone 3G or later, 3rd generation Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad or later, or a Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini. On the iPhone or iPad, tap Settings > Personal Hotspot.

Use the same menu to deactivate the Personal Hotspot to reduce your security risk and battery drain.

The menu screen displays the current password for the Personal Hotspot. By default, it's your device's phone number.

of 03


Connect to the computer or other iOS device using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB. To connect by Bluetooth, the other device must be discoverable. On your iOS device, go to Settings and turn on Bluetooth. Select the device you want to tether to the iOS device from the list of discoverable devices.

To connect by USB, plug in your iOS device to your computer using the cable that came with the device.

To disconnect, turn off Personal Hotspot, unplug the USB cable or turn off Bluetooth, depending on the method you use.

of 03

Using Instant Hotspot

If your mobile device is running iOS 8.1 or later and your Mac is running OS X Yosemite or later, you can use Instant Hotspot. It works when your two devices are near each other. 

  • The iOS device must have Personal Hotspot turned on at Settings > Personal Hotspot.
  • You must have a cellular plan for Personal Hotspot.
  • Both devices must be signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID.
  • Both devices must have Bluetooth turned on.
  • Both devices must have Wi-Fi turned on.

To connect to your Personal Hotspot:

On a Mac, choose the name of the iOS device providing the Personal Hotspot from the Wi-Fi status menu at the top of the screen.

On another iOS device, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and select the name of the iOS device providing the Personal Hotspot.

The devices disconnect automatically when you are not using the connection.

Instant Hotspot requires iPhone 5 or newer, iPad Pro, iPad 5th generation, iPad Air or newer or iPad mini or newer. They can connect with Macs dated 2012 or newer, with the exception of the Mac Pro, which must be late 2013 or newer.

Personal Hotspot can go missing from your iPhone in some circumstances. Learn how to get it back in How to Fix iPhone Personal Hotspot on iPhone & iOS.