How to set up an iPhone Personal Hotspot

Create a Wi-Fi network using your iPhone's connection

Create a Personal Hotspot

Personal Hotspot is a new feature in iOS 4.3 that enables you to use an iPhone 4 or 3GS to get other devices – such as your MacBook or iPad – online wherever there's phone reception.

While you've been able to do this before in the shape of tethering, Personal Hotspot is less limited on the iPhone 4 – you can attach up to five devices using USB, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Note that tethering on the iPhone 3GS has been renamed Personal Hotspot, but works over USB and Bluetooth only.

We haven't got space to go into specifics on each UK network here, but have a look at this for more details on the possible costs of using the feature.

Speak to your provider before using Personal Hotspot to be sure that you understand what, if anything, you'll be charged.

You can connect up to five devices to your iPhone 4 Personal Hotspot, consisting of one over USB, a maximum of three using Wi-Fi (on the GSM models we have in the UK) and up to three on Bluetooth. A blue bar across the top of your iPhone's screen tells you how many devices are connected and the mini Wi-Fi network it creates is password protected.

Using your iPhone's data connection in this way uses more battery if you're doing so over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

The first thing to do is update to iOS 4.3 by plugging your iPhone into your Mac, loading up iTunes, selecting your phone and clicking Check for Updates. If you're prompted to update carrier settings, do this as well.

Once it's done, go to Settings > General > Network > (Set Up) Personal Hotspot on the iPhone to get started. If you don't see the setting, speak to your network about enabling it. It's best to switch it off again when you're finished.

How to browse the web with Personal Hotspot

01. Connect the USB lead

step 1

Using Personal Hotspot over USB charges your iPhone battery and, if you disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on your device, it ensures no one else can 'steal' your connection. You don't need any passwords using it over USB so plug the cable into your Mac and iPhone.

02. Make sure it's recognised

step 2

With the iPhone hooked up to your Mac, it's time to check everything's working. In the Apple menu, select System Preferences. Now click the Network entry – you'll see the various ports listed down the left-hand side. The iPhone USB should be in there with a green dot next to it.

03. Try it out

step 3

If there's a red dot next to the iPhone, try unplugging and then reconnecting it. If this doesn't help, restart your Mac. Once it's listed as Connected, you'll be able to browse the web, check your email and catch up on the latest news, all on your Mac's big screen!

04. Go wireless!

step 4

As long as Personal Hotspot's enabled and Wi-Fi is switched on on the iPhone 4, your iPhone's Wi-Fi will appear in the AirPort list on your Mac. Select your phone and type the password (you can find it in the Personal Hotspot screen in the iPhone's Settings app).

05. Change the password

step 5

To change your Wi-Fi password, open up the iPhone's Settings app. Personal Hotspot should now be on the main page – tap it, then tap Wi-Fi Password to set your own. If you've previously connected to your iPhone's Wi-Fi hotspot, re-enter the password on your Mac.

06. Pair over Bluetooth

step 6

To connect up to three devices to your iPhone over Bluetooth, first go to Settings > General > Bluetooth to enable it. On your Mac, open System Preferences, click Bluetooth, tick On if necessary then click the + button at the bottom of the list or Set Up New Device…

07. Connect the two

step 7

Find your device in the list, select it and click Continue. Your Mac will try to link to your iPhone and show you a number. Keep the two close and the same figure should appear on your iPhone screen – check they're the same and tap Pair.

08. Get online!

step 8

Click Continue on your Mac. Then click Network Preferences… on the dialog shown and a Bluetooth entry will appear in the list. Select it and click Connect. In future, skip steps 6 and 7 and connect from the Bluetooth menu (enabled in the Bluetooth preference pane).

Quick tip

quick tip

Worried about how much data you're using over Personal Hotspot?

On the phone, go to Settings > General > Usage and scroll down to Tether Data. Set an iCal reminder to reset the counter each month so you know exactly how much you're using.

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