How to Connect to a Network on Your MacBook - dummies

How to Connect to a Network on Your MacBook

By Mark L. Chambers

All right! Time to connect your MacBook to a network. The hardware is powered up, the cables (if any) are installed and connected, and you have configured Mountain Lion. You’re ready to start (or join) the party.

Verify that the contraption works

After you have at least two computers on a wired or wireless network, test whether they’re talking to each other over the network by pinging them. Essentially, pinging another computer is like yelling, “Are you there?” across a crevasse.

To ping another computer on the same network from any Mac running Mountain Lion, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Launchpad icon in the Dock, and then click the Utilities folder.

  2. Click the Network Utility icon to launch the application.

  3. Click the Ping tab.


  4. In the Enter the Network Address to Ping text field, enter the IP address of the computer that you want to ping.

    If you’re pinging another Mac running OS X, you can get the IP address of that machine by simply displaying its Network pane in System Preferences, which always displays the IP address.

    If you’re trying to ping a PC running Windows and you don’t know the IP address of that machine, follow these steps:

    1. Click Start, right-click my Network Places (XP)/Network (Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8), and then choose Properties.

    2. From the Network Connections window, right-click your Local Area Network connection icon and then choose Status from the menu that appears.

    3. Click the Support tab.

      The IP address of that PC is proudly displayed.

  5. Select the Send Only x Pings radio button and enter 5 in the text field.

  6. Click the Ping button.

    • Yay! The address is a common series of local network IP addresses provided by Internet routers, hubs, and switches with DHCP servers, so don’t freak if you have the same local IP address. Similarly, Apple tends to use the form for local networks.

    • Nay: If you don’t get a successful ping, check your cable connections, power cords, and OS X settings. Folks using a wireless connection might have to move closer to the network base station to connect successfully, especially through walls.

Share stuff nicely with others

It works, it works! Okay, now what do you do with your all-new shining chrome network connection? Here are the most popular network perks.

Network Internet connections

If your DSL or cable modem plugs directly into your MacBook, you might ponder just how the other computers on your network can share that spiffy high-speed broadband connection. If you’re running a wireless network, it comes to the rescue!

Follow these steps to share your connection wirelessly:

  1. Click the System Preferences icon in the Dock.

  2. Click the Sharing icon (under Internet & Wireless).

  3. Click the Internet Sharing entry in the Services list to the left of the pane.

  4. From the Share Your Connection From pop-up menu, choose Ethernet.

  5. Select the Wi-Fi check box (in the To Computers Using list).

    Mountain Lion displays a warning dialog stating that connection sharing could affect your Internet service provider (ISP) or violate your agreement with your ISP.

  6. Click Start in the warning dialog to continue.

  7. Select the On check box next to the Internet Sharing entry in the Services list.

  8. Click the Close button to exit System Preferences.

Sharing an Internet connection through OS X requires your computer to remain on continuously.

If your MacBook has an external USB modem, you can indeed share a dial-up modem Internet connection. Just don’t be too surprised if you quickly decide to shelve the idea. Those dinosaurs are s-l-o-w beyond belief.

Don’t forget, you won’t need to configure Internet sharing if your DSL or cable modem connects to a dedicated sharing device or router. That snazzy equipment automatically connects your entire network to the Internet.

Share a network file

You can swap all sorts of interesting files with other Macintosh computers on your network. When you turn on file sharing, Mountain Lion lets all Macs on the network connect to your MacBook and share the files in your Public folder.

Follow these steps to start sharing files and folders with others across your network:

  1. Click the System Preferences icon in the Dock.

  2. Click the Sharing icon.

  3. Select the On check box next to the File Sharing service entry to enable the connections for Mac and Windows sharing.

    Other Mac users can connect to your computer by clicking Go in the Finder menu and choosing the Network menu item. The Network window appears, and your laptop is among the choices. If the other Macs are running Mountain Lion, your MacBook’s shared files and folders appear in a Finder window, and they’re listed under the Shared heading in the sidebar.

    Windows XP users should be able to connect to your Mac from their my Network Places window, and Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 users can use the Network window. (Users of pre-XP versions of Windows, head to Network Neighborhood.) Those lucky Windows folks also get to print to any shared printers you’ve set up.

  4. Click the Close button to exit System Preferences.

Share a network printer

Sharing a printer on a Mac network is really easy! You can share a printer that’s connected to your laptop (or your AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule, or AirPort Express Base Station) by following these simple steps:

  1. Click the System Preferences icon in the Dock.

  2. Click the Sharing icon.

  3. Select the On check box next to the Printer Sharing service entry.

  4. Select the check box next to the printer you want to share from the list at the right of the System Preferences window.

  5. Click the Close button to exit System Preferences.

A printer that you share automatically appears in the Print dialog on other computers connected to your network.