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How to: Share a hotel Wi-Fi connection via Bluetooth

17 May 2012 15,228 views One Comment

share a hotel wifi connection via bluetooth from your Mac to an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad

Increasingly, hotels and conference centers only offer wifi internet connectivity. That is certainly good vis-a-vis convenience until you run into the all-too-common one device per connection limit. Yes, hotels et al will be glad to charge you again and again for the privilege of connecting each of your devices, but that’s just the bogus economics of false scarcity.

And, you don’t need to take it because you can share your Mac’s wifi internet connection via Bluetooth. As you would imagine, speed won’t be optimal yet it should be more than good enough.

The starting point is you’re already on the venue’s Wi-Fi network (see the concierge, event manager, etc. for help with that). That done, let’s set up your Mac to share its Wi-Fi internet connection via Bluetooth (image above):

— Open System Preferences and go to Sharing
— Select/highlight Internet Sharing (don’t tick the check box yet)
— Choose “Wi-Fi” from the “Share your connection from:” drop down menu
— In the “To computers using:” box, select “Bluetooth PAN”
— Tick the box next “Internet Sharing” (dismiss the warning)

You will now need to get your Mac and the idevice (or other Mac) ready to Pair (connect) via Bluetooth:

get your mac, iphone and iPad ready to pair via bluetooth
— On your Mac, open System Preferences and go to Bluetooth
— If Bluetooth isn’t turned on, click “On” and “Discoverable” now
— For the sake of future convenience, also tick the “Show Bluetooth status in the menu bar” box near the bottom of the window
— Make sure Bluetooth is active on the idevice or Mac you want to Pair with: iOS > Settings > General > Bluetooth and move the slider into the “On” position

I find it easier to Pair from an idevice. So, pick up your iPhone or iPad and go to Settings > General > Bluetooth and find your Mac in the list:

— Tap/select your Mac in the list
— Enter the pin, four zeros (0000) is the default
— Your Mac will spawn a dialog asking if you want to Pair with your idevice, click “Yes”
— If successful, you will see a pair of interlocked rings in the upper right corner of the iOS display

Lastly, you will need to set up your Mac’s Bluetooth radio to act as a modem and share the internet wirelessly:

— On your Mac, got System Preferences > Bluetooth
— Select your iPhone or iPad in the list and click “Advanced”
— As shown in the graphic above, tick both boxes and click the carrot at the far right and insure that “Modem” is selected

You are now sharing your Mac’s Wi-Fi internet connection to your idevice via Bluetooth.

Standard caveats apply — Bluetooth is generally slow and the range is generally limited to about 20 feet (6 meters) or so. Also, Bluetooth is notorious for chewing through battery, so be sure to it off when not it’s in use.

That said, if you’re not going to be using Wi-Fi, turn it off to conserve battery until you need it.

Setting up your Mac to share its Wi-Fi internet connection via Bluetooth is a bit of a hassle. Once devices are paired, however, it should happen automagically in the future.

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