How to Tether an iPad to an iPhone

A man on an iphone and a woman using an iPad relaxing outdoors

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Every iPhone can connect to the Internet anywhere it can get a network signal, but most iPads need Wi-Fi to get online. Some iPads include cellular options, but those cost extra. As a result, iPhone users can usually get online in places iPad users can't.

Wi-Fi-only iPads can get online using an iPhone with a technology called tethering. Tethering, which Apple calls Personal Hotspot on the iPhone, is a feature of smartphones that allows them to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot and share their cellular network connection with other nearby devices using Wi-Fi. 

With a few taps on each device, your iPad can get online anywhere your iPhone can by tethering them together. Here's what you need to do.

These instructions apply to iPhones and iPads running iOS 7 or later.

Check your cellular data plan to see if it includes mobile hotspots.

How to Tether an iPad to an iPhone

To share your iPhone's cellular data connection with any nearby iPad so it can get online, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.

    How to tether an iPhone to an iPad
  2. Tap Personal Hotspot.

    Personal Hotspot setting on iPhone
  3. Move the Personal Hotspot slider to on/green.

    Turn on Personal Hotspot on iPhone
  4. Keep the Personal Hotspot screen open on the iPhone. You'll need the Personal Hotspot password listed there.

    If the default password is too hard to remember, you can change it by tapping it and entering a new one on the next screen. Hotspot passwords must be at least 8 characters.

    Personal hotspot password on iPhone.
  5. Your iPhone is now ready to connect to your iPad.

Now follow these steps to connect your iPad to your iPhone's hotspot:

  1. Tap Settings.

    Settings app on an iPad
  2. Tap Wi-Fi.

    Wi-Fi setting on an iPad
  3. Find the name of your phone under Personal Hotspots and tap it.

    Choosing the personal hotspot on iPad
  4. Enter the password for the hotspot from the menu on your phone if it prompts you to do so.

When the iPad connects to the iPhone, a blue bar appears at the top of the iPhone's screen (on some models, it's a blue bubble around the time in the top left corner). This indicates that a device is connected to the Personal Hotspot. The iPad can access the Internet via the iPhone as long as the Personal Hotspot is turned on and the iPad is in Wi-Fi range of the iPhone.

You can use the iPhone as you normally would even while the iPad is tethered to it. Personal Hotspot doesn't interfere with it. The only difference you could notice is that the iPhone's Internet connection may be a little slower than normal since the iPad is sharing it. 

How Data Use Works When Tethering

Any data devices use while tethered to the iPhone counts against the iPhone's monthly data plan. If you have a plan that charges you for overages or slows your speeds after you use a certain amount, you'll want to be aware of this. It's usually best to let other devices tether for limited periods of time and for relatively low-data-use functions.

For example, you probably don't want to let an iPad tethered to your iPhone's cellular connection download a 4 GB game.

Connecting Multiple Devices to One iPhone

You can connect multiple devices to a single iPhone Personal Hotspot. These could be other iPads, iPod touches, computers, or other Wi-Fi-equipped devices. Just follow the steps for connecting the device to Wi-Fi, enter the iPhone's Personal Hotspot password, and you'll have everyone online in no time.

How to Disconnect Tethered Devices

When you're done, turn off Personal Hotspot on your iPhone by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Personal Hotspot.

  3. Move the slider to off/white. This disconnects any device that was tethered to the iPhone.

If you're the iPhone user in this scenario, you'll want to keep Personal Hotspot off except when you're using it, since that conserves battery life.

While not required, the iPad user should probably also turn off their Wi-Fi to save battery. Open Control Center and tap the Wi-Fi icon (second from the left in the top bar) so that it's not highlighted.

It's possible, in some situations, for Personal Hotspot to disappear from your iPhone, preventing you from tethering an iPad to it.