How To Use your PC Computer or Laptop as a Wireless Router?

Posted by Jamie on September 14, 2017

Question and answer time again. This time a question about using your computer as a router. The question was ‘Is it possible to use my laptop as a wireless router? The answer is yes you can. As the question didn’t specify what type of laptop is being used, I will address both Windows and Mac.

I would always suggest investing in a good quality router. It provides a barrier for hackers and anyone trying to get onto your network and the means for you to be able to network multiple devices or share resources amongst multiple users. However, if you would prefer not to use a router, that’s fine too.

To set up a laptop as a wireless router you can either use an app that will do it all for you or set it up manually. I always prefer to configure things myself as I then know exactly what is going on, when and why. While apps may be clean and honest, there is nothing cleaner than configuring things yourself.

So here is how to manually configure a laptop as a wireless router. There is one caveat, you will require a wired connection from the laptop to the internet. Using the WiFi connection as a hotspot means it cannot be used to access the internet directly.

Use a Windows laptop as a wireless router

If you use the latest version of Windows 10, you can easily turn your laptop into a WiFi hotspot. The Anniversary Update added the ability to share your network connection which was a welcome addition.

  1. Open the Settings menu in Windows 10.
  2. Select Network & Internet and Mobile hotspot from the left menu.
  3. Toggle ‘Share my internet connection with other devices’ to on.
  4. Turn on WiFi on the other device and search for networks.
  5. Join the network created by your laptop. The network name is listed in the Share my internet connection window above.
  6. Type the network password on the other device, also listed on the Share my internet connection window.

You should now be able to access the internet using your laptop as a WiFi hotspot.

If you use Windows 8, you can still create a WiFi hotspot but it takes a little more configuring.

  1. Navigate to Control Panel and Network Connections.
  2. Right click your WiFi adaptor and select Properties.
  3. Select Sharing and check the box next to ‘Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection’.
  4. Open a command prompt as an Administrator.
  5. Type ‘netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=”<YOURSSID>” key=”<PASSWORD>”’. Where you see YOURSSID, this is the network name. PASSWORD is the network password.
  6. Type ‘netsh wlan start hostednetwork’ and hit Enter.
  7. Type ‘netsh wlan show hostednetwork’ to check that it is worked and shared.

You should now be able to join that network on your other device as per the above steps. Search and join as normal and enter the SSID and password when prompted.

Use an Apple laptop as a wireless router

If you want to use a MacBook or MacBook Pro as a WiFi hotspot, you can. The same limitations apply as to Windows 8 though. You need a wired connection from your laptop to the internet as you will utilize the WiFi connection to broadcast to the devices you want to connect.

  1. Select the Apple logo and then System Preferences.
  2. Select Sharing and select Internet Sharing from the list on the left.
  3. Select Ethernet as the source and Wi-Fi in the ‘To computers using’ box.
  4. Select Wi-Fi Options and use the password and network name on the device you’re joining.
  5. Select OK and then check the box next to Internet Sharing to enable it.
  6. Scan for available networks on your other device and use the network name and password from Step 4.

Both operating systems support multiple WiFi adapters but that can be problematic. Both will work with USB WiFi adapters and in theory, will utilize one for internet access and one as a hotspot. In practice this can be a pain to set up. You would need to manually configure both WiFi adapters with different IP addresses and use one for local access only. This tells the OS to select one for internet traffic and one for local IP traffic.

If you’re using Apple, you would also need to place the internet-enabled WiFi adapter topmost so it prioritizes it.

Aside from using an app or third party program to enable you to use a laptop as a wireless router, these are the only ways I know of getting the job done. Do you know of any other ways? Tell us about them below if you do!

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