Tethering is still voodoo


Tethering internet from an iPhone to my MacBooks is amazing. I can still remember back to 2008 when I needed Cydia on my iPhone 3G to do this. But it’s still far from perfect, and occasionally I feel as though my phones have taken on a sinister dislike of sharing.

First I attempt to connect via Bluetooth. It lists my personal phone and Disconnect from network in the Mac menu bar after I’ve paired, indicating a connection has been established. But sure enough, System Preferences flatly contradicts these words of assurance, reporting that Bluetooth PAN is not connected. As an added bonus, my work phone often shows as connected in the same earlier menu, even when it’s not. Even, when it’s turned off, or laughably out of range.

I was told once a joke I gave was laughably out of range. Or that was the voice in my head, I lose track. CDs don’t, or car racing circuits. Which reminds me, I was going to watch the F1 again after an extended absence, oh well.

Screenshot of System Preferences showing connection failed for my personal phone

So I give up on Bluetooth as I should probably always do, and attempt to connect via Wi-Fi. But the phone isn’t listed in the Mac Wi-Fi menu dropdown, even after repeated toggling of tethering in iOS settings. When it does appear, I get a warning that the connection can’t be established. And ping failures confirm that when it does connect, I often can’t use it.

Most of the time, one of these approaches work. But neither work reliably enough to be trusted, especially if I’m on the go and need to urgently access a remote server.

So finally, I reach for my USB cable. Only to remember I can’t plug it into this MacBook Pro, because Apple in 2019 doesn’t provide me a compatible cable out of the box. So I curse silently under my breath, underline the buy an adaptor in my to do list, and briefly entertain a fit of jealousy directed at my PC friends who have SIM cards built into their laptops.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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