Thursday, 3 September 2009

Trouble getting Mac Book Pro to connect to wireless networks

My mate Colin Riddell from Codeplay just helped me fix a problem with my beautiful new Mac Book, which I thought I'd write down the solution to before I forget, and in case other people have the same problem (looking online, a lot of people seem to have trouble getting their Macs to connect to wireless networks).

Before that, I'll tell you something that really pisses me off - the whole "A is better than B" issue with computers and operating systems.  The reason I got a Mac is that I have never used one before (well, actually my secondary school was kitted out with Mac Classics, but I haven't used one within living memory) and people often big them up.  When I was recording an album with my band Latonic, the studio we worked in used a Mac and swore by it (even though it crashed all the time, but in my recording experience, music software seems to push any machine to the limit).  So I've got a Mac Book Pro, and it is in many ways really lovely.  But it does crash.  People often say things like "My Mac has never crashed", or even "Macs don't crash".  But in my experience the former is not true, and the latter obviously cannot be true - of course one can write a program for the Mac which crashes!

Anyway, so far I really love the Mac, apart from its AirPort program, which is used to manage wireless networks, and which in my opinion is really crap.  In contrast I really like the Windows wireless network manager.

The problem I had over the last couple of days is that, having returned from holiday, I could not connect to my BT HomeHub wireless network using my Mac.  My PC laptop connects fine, and nothing has changed with the network.  I have MacOS 10.5.7.

My problem was that AirPort would say:
Status:  On
AirPort does not have an IP address and cannot connect to the Internet
Network name: BTHomeHub2-XXXX

At the top, Location is set to Automatic.

No matter what I tried, I could not get the computer to connect to the network (even though this had been working fine before I went on holiday).

After a lot of messing around, this is the solution my mate Colin came up with:

  • Under the "Location" drop down (in Network preferences) click "Edit Locations"
  • Click "+" to add a new location
  • Give this a name (I used NewLocation) and click "Done"
  • Click on "AirPort" on the left hand side, and make sure that your new location is selected under "Location"
  • You should see the same error message as usual about no IP address.
  • Click "Advanced", which will open a new dialogue box, and select the TCP/IP tab.
  • On the right, click "Renew DHCP Lease"
  • Click "OK"
You should now get connected fine to the wireless network.

The weird thing is that you might expect to be able to solve this problem by selecting the "Automatic" location, then clicking "Advanced->TCP/IP->Renew DHCP Lease", but the weird thing is that the "Renew..." option isn't there for this location.  You can make it appear by clicking "Using DHCP" again, but that didn't fix the problem for me.

I'm relieved this works, but I don't think it is a great fix to the problem - I still don't know what has gone wrong with the "Automatic" location, so I'd be interested to hear from any Mac experts who know about this.


  1. I find it strange that on my Mac (OS X 10.5.6) the "Renew" option shows no problem, without invocation by clicking "Using DHCP" again. It seems to work better on this version of the OS than yours - the newer one - which makes no sense.
    Good post Ally.

  2. You've changed. MacBook Pro. Expensive. Next you will be telling me you have broadband in the house. Anyway, how you doing kiddo?


    (God it was hard to post a comment on this thing kept saying I didn't own my wordpress account. Fannies)