Top 8 Ways to Fix WiFi Not Working on Mac Computer

My company provides computer repair and troubleshooting services in Brisbane, Australia. I had a call this week from a new client telling me that she’d lost WiFi access on her laptop. She told me that the WiFi symbol was displaying an X. We arranged a time for me to go and look at it and I fully expected to resolve the issue within a few minutes.

WiFi Not Working on Mac

I would first check whether the WiFi had been accidentally disabled. Assuming it hadn’t been disabled I would uninstall the existing WiFi driver and then reinstall it. If this didn’t resolve the issue I’d be assuming the WiFi hardware had failed and the easiest solution would have been to implement a USB WiFi adapter.

On arrival with the client, my plans were immediately turned on their head. My assumption had been that we were dealing with a Windows computer, but it turned out to be an old MacBook running OS X El Capitan. Not only had the WiFi failed but the client had been using a Bluetooth keyboard with it as a number of the keys on the MacBook keyboard were no longer functioning.

There was indeed an X in the centre of the WiFi icon. After clicking on the icon we were presented with the message WiFi: No hardware installed. This message in itself gave me the clue that none of the troubleshooting steps I was about to implement were likely to result in a resolution as the internal WiFi hardware had probably failed. Nevertheless, I set about confirming this scenario, and the following are the troubleshooting steps I followed.

Top 8 Ways to Fix WiFi Not Working on Mac Computer

1. System Information

I first entered the Mac’s System Information screen and scrolled down to the Wi-Fi section under Network. This showed the Software Versions but there were no interfaces present.

2. Wireless Diagnostics

Wireless Diagnostics are run on a Mac by holding down the option key while clicking the WiFi icon. You are then presented with a menu option to Open Wireless Diagnostics. After clicking on this option the appropriate icon appeared momentarily in the dock but then disappeared again. As a result, the wireless diagnostics told me nothing.

3. System Preferences

I opened System Preferences and selected Network. The Location had been changed so I set this back to Automatic in order to get a full list of interfaces. A Wi-Fi interface was listed but its status was off. I clicked Turn Wi-Fi On a number of times but the interface refused to turn on.

4. Reset NVRAM/PRAM and SMC

I then set about performing some resets in the hope that as a result, the WiFi hardware would come back to life. I reset the NVRAM/PRAM by shutting down the MacBook and then powering it on while holding down the four keys command, option, P and R together. When the computer had powered up again there was no change with the WiFi still showing as having no hardware installed. I also reset the SMC by pressing and holding down the control, option, and shift keys while pressing the power button. I then held all these keys down for a number of seconds before releasing them and switching the Mac on. Again there was no resulting change to the WiFi status.

5. Recovery Mode

My next step was to ascertain whether the WiFi would be available at the recovery mode screen. I tried to boot into recovery mode by holding down command with R right after powering on the MacBook. Unfortunately, the computer wouldn’t boot into recovery mode. Instead, I connected a USB containing the OS X El Capitan installer and booted from this by holding down the option key right after starting the computer. Upon reaching the recovery mode screen the WiFi icon was not present.

6. Safe Mode

I then booted the Mac into safe mode by holding down the shift key right after power on. Once again the computer continued to report that there was no WiFi hardware installed.

7. Apple Diagnostics

By this stage, it was fairly clear that the WiFi hardware had indeed failed but I would have liked final confirmation of this by running Apple Diagnostics. I held the D key down right after starting the computer to enter the diagnostics but unfortunately, this didn’t work. I didn’t fully trust either the MacBook’s own keyboard or the Bluetooth keyboard so I tried it with these and then with an external USB keyboard. Unfortunately, the computer refused to enter the diagnostic mode. I have no doubt, however, that this would simply have confirmed the failure of the internal WiFi hardware.

8. Malware Scan

As well as all these Apple-specific diagnostic steps, I also ran a malware scan on Mac using Malwarebytes, just in case a virus could have been affecting the WiFi. Apart from a few items of adware, nothing of significance was found.

Conclusion:

Having worked through all the troubleshooting steps described, my conclusion was the same as at the beginning of the process, namely that the internal WiFi hardware had failed. One of the guiding principles of Norm's Computer Services in customer service is to always provide a solution for the client. Clearly, a repair of the internal hardware was out of the question, particularly considering the age of the MacBook, so I recommended the purchase of a USB WiFi adapter. This is an inexpensive solution for almost any computer which either doesn’t have WiFi, or where the WiFi has failed.

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TechGlobeX: Top 8 Ways to Fix WiFi Not Working on Mac Computer
Top 8 Ways to Fix WiFi Not Working on Mac Computer
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