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How to: Airport won’t activate? Try this simple fix

14 April 2009 81,712 views 70 Comments

What should you do when your Mac’s Airport wont activate? Here’s a straightforward fix that solve your Airport problems and have you back up and running in a matter of minutes.

When I bought a MacBook, though I really wanted an iMac, I did so because mobility is an absolute must. So, whether I’m sitting in a parking lot somewhere — waiting for practice, scouts, shopping or whatever to end or just having brecky on the deck — my MacBook’s built in Airport Extreme wi-fi just has to work and yesterday it just didn’t.

That is, I often disable Airport via the menu bar to conserve battery and this time when I went to turn it back on, it just wouldn’t — clicking “Turn Airport on” either via the menu bar or Network panel inside System Preferences earned me no love. Moreover, neither restarting nor restarting and clearing the PRAM (press ⌘ + Option + P + R and, yes, I “know” this is useless) did any good.

A quick Google of the phrase “airport won’t turn on” led me to a Apple Support Article that advised this simple (potential) solution:

1. Open the Network System Preference panel
2. Delete Airport by clicking the “-” (minus) button
3. Restart your Mac
4. Open the Network System Preference panel
5. Add Airport by clicking the “+” (plus) button
6. Click “Apply”

See also: How to: Make Airport Forget a Network

And, at least in my case, that did the trick and my Early 2008 2.1GHz MacBook’s Airport is once again fully functional.

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  • dr.aw said:

    I had the same problem and this solution worked great. Thanks.

  • Stephen said:

    AWESOME! I was super frustrated and this did the trick. Thank You!!!!!

  • Glenn Barker said:

    You are awesome! I’ve had this problem since connecting a new wireless router. Have an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar on Saturday morning, but thought I’d take a look online and see if I could find some advice. Your instructions had me up and going in no time. Thanks!

  • brian cometa said:

    thanks for this tip! worked for me too — and FYI to anyone else: no need to restart. Just minus airport, click “Apply,” and re-add Airport. All fixed.

  • Gillian said:

    it works!! thanks a lot!!

  • yana1999 said:

    i tried this, but i cant get my airport back!! its really scaring me! PLEASE HELP. when i pres “+” i dont get the option of airport!!! pls help

  • Jennifer said:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to post this info-I had searched for something to solve this problem and tried several things with no success. This worked, however!!

  • Jennifer said:

    p.s. i went to click on “5 stars” and clicked two by accident :(. i wasn’t able to go back and fix this, so hopefully it can be deleted!


  • Jaybird said:

    It works! It actually works!
    Thank you very much, I was getting really worried seeing that I am in S. Korea now and the closet genius bar is hundreds of miles away.
    Life saver!

  • Azdak said:

    Works for me thx

  • Vanessa_s said:

    Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!! it fixed the problem!!!!

  • Drake said:

    Dear Writter,

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR POSTING THIS! If i knew your name I would name my first born son/daughter after you!

  • Oscar said:

    Dear Writter,

    THANKS!!!! It worked for me too! It’s great when things go smoothly!

    I too would name my first born after you.

  • Sam said:

    Gutted, it didn’t work for me but am glad it worked for everyone else :)

  • How to: Airport won’t activate? Try this simple fix FairerPlatform | Chicago Mac/PC Support said:

    [...] via How to: Airport won’t activate? Try this simple fix FairerPlatform. [...]

  • Ben Makinen said:

    Brilliant! This fix worked on my MacBook Pro 10.6.5 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7 and on a 2004 MacBook G4. AirPort was on and showed my AirPort Extreme networks with bars, but I could not connect to the internet even though an old PC could through Ethernet cable direct into Air Port. My thanks are many to this lovely genius!!

  • David said:

    didn’t work for me. Boo Hoo for me, but glad it worked for everyone else. Is this then a hardware issue?

  • Seth said:

    I dont get an option to create a new airport so this doesnt work for me :(

  • Alisa said:

    I tried this and am stuck halfway through cause I’m blonde : / I deleted the airport, restarted, and cannot figure out how to add the airport again. When I click the ‘+’ button it offers me the choice to add Ethernet, Bluetooth, or FireWire but no airport. Any tips on how to get past this please?

  • Naval O said:

    You. Are. The. Man.


    Works like a charm.

  • Jared said:

    Worked perfect. And i was about to crack open my macbook to try see if it was internal. I had actually tried to add and remove the airport connection without restarting it and that disnt work.

  • Terry said:

    This is a life-saving tip!

  • Mo said:

    God bless you!!! Worked great thank you for sharing!!!

  • Gladys Wijaya said:

    to those not getting the option of airport after clicking the “+”, try restarting your mbp. I had that problem and in my case it was (probably) because my mbp didnt detect that the airport card is installed. hope this helps!

  • Gladys Wijaya said:

    i have just tried the above step by step and IT WORKS!! i’m so happy i can kiss the poster right this instant!! and Jared is right, you have to restart your mbp for this to work. i tried it without the restart after an earlier comment said that you didnt have to and it didnt work. i was about to give up and was feeling desperate when i read jared’s comment. thank you op and jared!!

  • sedef said:

    Hi Gladys and Alisa,

    I am having the same issue of not having the airport as an option (only ethernet firewire and blutooth) when I click the + even though I restarted the mac after I hit the - button deleting the airport.

    How did you guys resolve this?

    Thanks so much for the help!!

  • Gladys Wijaya said:

    UPDATE: airport is still not working. the fixes work for a while but nothing i tried lasts. i’m feeling really hopeless now because im not in the us anymore and there is no apple store here.

    to Sedef, sometimes i see no card installed and a reboot usually brings it back.

  • Raven said:

    Wow! Nothing has ever been more simple to fix! I was actually upset with my poor boyfriend bc I thought he had something to do with the problem! I apologized immediately after I realized it was so easily remedied! Whoever posted this is awesome! Good karma is coming your way for relieving so many people of a ton of frustration! Thank you!

  • Mariana said:

    Hey, thanks for posting this.

    FOR ALL THOSE FOR WHOM THIS DIDN’T WORK and you don’t see the Airport option when you click on the + sign, try totally shutting down your computer and then turning it back on. I tried just restart twice and it didn’t work. Totally shutting it down worked.

  • Hofar said:

    Tried all the above tricks and still not working. Any new solutions?
    10.6.8 and a year new macbook pro.

  • Pat said:

    Thank for this article. It really helped a lot. Initially, I had the same problem as Seth, Alisa or Sedef and I could not add ‘Airport’ again. But what Mariana and Gladys suggested: to actually ‘switch the MAC off with the on/off (l) button worked for me. Thank you very much for all involved, you’ve made my day.

  • ED MORGANS said:

    Fantastic, worked with your advice. Marvellous!!!

  • dilara kaplan said:

    Thank you soooo much! You’re awesome!

  • Callum said:

    From the feedback it sounds like this certainly does work. However when I have tried to add the airport option back by clicking the plus button there is no airport option for me to select.
    Am I doing something wrong? Any suggestions? Thanks

  • the rocr (author) said:

    A simple way to check it less formally is go to the Apple Menu, select About This Mac, click More Info, then click to System Report and lastly under Network click Wi-Fi, is your card there?

    You can try Apple Hardware Test. In OS X Lion, try running the Apple Hardware Test to see if there’s a problem with the card itself. You can directions on how to use AHT here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1509.

  • James said:

    Many thanks, I was beginning to get quite frustrated. Thankfully, your fix worked with a few extra restarts.

  • Leiah said:

    Thank you so much. I appreciate the additional commenters too. Complete shutdown got me the airport option where restarts hadn’t.

  • Amy said:

    You are rad. Thank you.

  • Paul said:

    I was just stressin’ over the fact that perhaps I had a faulty card, and was going to have to deal with the hassle of returning it for a hopeful exchange. DUDE, YOU SAVED THE DAY!!!

  • Robert Hill said:

    Brilliant, Thanks, this worked perfectly for me.

  • Meghan said:

    Hi All,

    I have tried the above and like many others, the Air Port option is not available as an add on after I restart my Macbook Air. I also tried a hard shut down and that did not work. The options I have for re-add are:
    VPN, PPPoE & 6 to 4, am I doing something wrong? & if not, any other suggestions for me?


  • emjay said:

    THANK YOU!!! This actually worked for me! So easy!

  • Richard said:

    Excellent. Many thanks. This worked a treat!

  • Owen said:

    This worked!!…I was getting really annoyed and frustrated..thanks a bunch!!

  • Kim said:

    Thanks so much for posting this! It worked perfectly!

  • Josh D said:

    For those that aren’t able to re-install airport:

    The same happened to me. it is because the computer is not recognizing that there is an airport card installed (when you click on the airport icon in the upper right of your desk top it will say “no card installed”). I had to turn my mac book on and off 3 or 4 times before it recognized the airport card. once it recognizes there is a card it will give you the airport option when you click the “+” button in network preferences. if it still says “no card installed” after a few reboots then the card my have gone bad or it may be disconnected.

  • Eliot said:

    Alright, cool. I got pretty scared for a minute when I couldn’t select airport back again, and even more so when I was looking at forum posts that said you had to get a new airport card. However, shutting down with the power button and turning back on did the trick. I feel so spoiled, but lucky, to be living in a house with more than one computer so I can fix this kind of problem easily.

  • Watson said:

    Absolute LEDGEND! Thank you so much! I was getting so annoyed! Saviour!

  • SN said:

    My wife’s MacBook Air had this problem. We had it serviced under AppleCare for a display problem that required a new display module and main logic board. I had made a clone of her internal drive on an external drive so that she could boot my old MacBook Pro (now our spare computer) from it and continue working on her PhD thesis defense, which is tomorrow! When the Air came back fixed, I cloned the partition she was working from back onto the Air. After this, Airport stopped working, and could not be turned on. I was worried that I may have hosed some machine-specific system file, and that I was facing a system reinstallation. Luckily, I came across your solution, which worked!


  • Ms. D said:

    This is the part where I hug you until I squish out your iternal organs. My dog knocked the Macbook off the couch last night, and the airport stopped working. Just when I thought we were in for an expensive repair or even more expensive new computer, I found this and it worked!

  • Marilene said:

    Lifesaving technique! Thank you, dude!

  • Alejandro Morales said:

    Thanks for the info, you saved me a lot of time of research.

  • Gerallene Alcarde said:

    Thanks! It worked for me :)

  • Larissasfas said:

    This actually made things worse. Now I have no way of having AirPort work.

  • Shawn howard said:

    Worked for me! Thx

  • Janet Stewart said:

    This worked for me - thanks!

  • Nancy Collins said:

    This worked - thank you!

  • Lauren said:

    I did this last night and it worked perfectly. I did it again this morning and now when I click the “+” button to add the Airport, there is no option to add the Airport. I’m even more screwed than I was before. what do I do?! Help please!!

  • Kevin said:

    You sir, are a national treasure.

    Many thanks!

  • How to: Airport won’t activate? Try this simple fix FairerPlatform | chimac.net - Stuff worth knowing about said:

    [...] via How to: Airport won’t activate? Try this simple fix FairerPlatform. [...]

  • Dalton said:

    Although it worked for some time, my wifi malfunctioned again. Man, I read a little and it seems Apple is dropping support for old computers (like early 2008 macbooks). This is really a shame… I’m getting to this conclusion based on a lot of info I found on the Internet, but I could hightlight this: http://wotnau.blogspot.com.br/2012/01/os-x-lion-on-older-early-2008-black-13.html and this: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3171415?start=0&tstart=0

    I’ll try installing Ubuntu 12.04 on my old macbook and see if the wifi continues faulty.


  • Jason said:

    Thanks for the help! Worked like a charm.

  • Dalton said:

    Hi. Just to share my experience with Ubuntu 12.04: bottomline, it works very well. Just one observation: do not use the STA driver that comes with Ubuntu 12.04 for Mac. That driver has the same fault as the Mac OS driver - if you suspend your computer the wifi interface stop working. Use the b43 driver and everything is alright. I’m using Ubuntu now since my last post and the problem is solved. I also got my Ubuntu 12.04 to “behave” in a similar way as OS X regarding interface (using shotwell, cheese, banshee,spacebar to open a preview of the document, gnome-open to open files from terminal etc). The feel is very close and the fact the wifi is working just fine is even better. On the bright side, the macbook is at least two times faster than with OS X Lion. Therefore, people put Ubuntu and revive your Mac. If you mount the Mac partition rw you don’t even have to migrate your files. Use them in place and save the space.

  • Joe said:

    Cheers buddy. My macs been acting up and I thought this was the end of it til I found this!

  • Marco mascagni said:

    It worked thanks !!!

  • Damerrick said:

    Very helpful indeed-many thanks!

  • Ashley said:

    Thank you so much for this solution. It probably saved me some moola by avoiding the local Mac store.

  • Jarryd Walker said:

    Thank you

  • Luis Moreira said:

    Wow! Thank you for fthe simple but great advise!
    It worked perfectly for me!

  • David Zee said:

    Worked for me after hours of searching for a solution

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