iPhone hotspot not working? 8 ways to troubleshoot

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iPhone hotspot not working? 8 ways to troubleshoot
You may need to try several troubleshooting methods if your iPhone's personal hotspot isn't working.Maskot/Getty Images
  • If you don't have access to WiFi, you can set up a personal hotspot on your iPhone and share your cellular connection with other devices.
  • If your personal hotspot isn't working, you should ensure it's enabled and toggle WiFi off and back on on the other device.
  • You can also try resetting your network settings or even switch to a different connection method like Bluetooth or USB cable.

A personal hotspot can be a lifesaver. When you find yourself somewhere that has no WiFi, you can share your phone's cellular connection with your laptop and other devices to get online.

Unfortunately, your cellular provider needs to support personal hotspots to make this work, and the underlying technology can sometimes be a little finicky. If you have trouble making your iPhone's personal hotspot work, here are eight tips to troubleshoot the connection and get up and running.

Ensure your carrier supports Apple's personal hotspot

If this is the first time you're trying to use a personal hotspot with this particular iPhone or with a new wireless carrier, it's worth making sure that cellular service plan supports personal hotspots. Not all offer this feature (though these days, most do), and it's possible that your carrier will not allow you to "tether" your iPhone's cellular service to other devices.

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On your iPhone, start the Settings app and tap Personal Hotspot. If the settings are disabled or you see a message to contact your wireless carrier, call customer service and see if it's possible to upgrade your service to get access to hotspots.

Make sure the personal hotspot is turned on

If your carrier allows you to share your cellular service with a hotspot, first things first: Make sure it's turned on.

1. Start the Settings app.

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2. Tap Personal Hotspot.

3. Make sure Allow Others to Join is turned on by swiping the button to the right.

4. If you want to, customize the WiFi password from the same menu.

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iPhone hotspot not working? 8 ways to troubleshoot
Visit your phone's Settings app to make sure the personal hotspot is enabled.Dave Johnson

Be sure you're not in Airplane Mode

iPhone hotspot not working? 8 ways to troubleshoot
Make sure Airplane Mode isn't enabled.Dave Johnson

If your iPhone is accidentally set to Airplane mode, the Personal Hotspot will be disabled and you won't be able to select it — in fact, your phone may behave as if your carrier doesn't support personal hotspots. Pull the Control Center down from the top of the screen and make sure that Airplane Mode is turned off.

Toggle WiFi on the device you want to connect to the hotspot

If you've turned on your hotspot and it's not appearing in the list of WiFi networks on the device you want to connect, turn WiFi off on that device and then turn it back on again. You can do this by directly disabling WiFi or by turning Airplane mode on and then back off again. In many cases, the device will be able to find the hotspot when it's re-enabled.

Maximize Compatibility on your iPhone 12

There is another setting that you might need to tweak to get your devices to properly see and connect to your hotspot. If you have an iPhone 12 and your personal hotspot isn't working, start the Settings app and tap Personal Hotspot. Then, at the bottom of the page, turn on Maximize Compatibility by swiping the button to the right. This can fix problems that occasionally crop up with the iPhone 12's ability to share 5G networks.

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If this doesn't solve the problem, it's also worth ensuring that you are running the latest version of iOS on your iPhone and your other device's operating system is up to date as well.

Restart all your devices

iPhone hotspot not working? 8 ways to troubleshoot
Restart your iPhone — and any devices you want to connect to.Dave Johnson

Sometimes it takes a restart to force your devices to see and connect to a personal hotspot. Restart your iPhone and any other devices you are trying to connect to the personal hotspot. When all the devices are fully restarted, make sure the personal hotspot is enabled and try connecting again.

Try a different connection method

You might be surprised to learn that there are several ways to tether devices to your iPhone's cellular connection; in addition to WiFi (which is the most common), you can also connect via Bluetooth or a USB cable. Using one of these other methods can sometimes work if there's a glitch with your iPhone's WiFi network settings.

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To try one of these other methods, follow the instructions on the Personal Hotspot page in Settings — just connect your laptop or other device to the iPhone with Bluetooth or connect them with a USB cable. To use a wired connection on a Windows computer, you will also need to first install iTunes and log into your Apple account with your Apple ID and password.

Reset your network settings

Occasionally, your iPhone's network settings may become corrupted or confused, and resetting them can allow your personal hotspot to work again. You might want to exercise a small amount of caution with this troubleshooting step, though; when you reset your network settings, all saved networks and WiFi passwords will be erased, so you'll need to manually reconnect to all your favorite WiFi networks.

1. Start the Settings app.

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2. Tap General.

3. Tap Transfer or Reset Phone.

4. Tap Reset.

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5. In the pop-up menu, tap Reset Network Settings.

iPhone hotspot not working? 8 ways to troubleshoot
As a last resort, you can try to reset your network settings.Dave Johnson
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