MacBook Pro constantly drops wireless connection?

You may love your shiny new MacBook Pro, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. While macOS running on genuine Apple hardware is less prone to glitches when they occur, finding solutions can be difficult.

One problem that always seems to recur over the years is inaccurate Wi-Fi connections. In other words, your MacBook keeps cutting off its wireless connection or refuses to connect in the first place.

We’ve scoured the collective wisdom of the internet, added a strong dash of our own, and rounded up the most likely tips for getting your MacBook Pro back on the information superhighway.

Is it a Wi-Fi problem?

This may seem like an obvious question, but does your MacBook Pro really have a WiFi connection problem? If the Wi-Fi connection icon shows that you are connected to the local network, but internet performance is questionable or only some websites are working, the problem is likely not with the Wi-Fi connection itself.

Wifi router

This type of problem is beyond the scope of this article. If you need help with the internet, check out our article on the subject. Below we will only look at potential solutions to WiFi connection problems.

Basic cleaning

Before you start panicking and looking for arcane voodoo rituals to wake Wi-Fi, start with the obvious and simple cleaning steps that can often fix problems on their own.

First, make sure your MacBook has been updated to the latest version of macOS. Then restart your Mac and restart the router. It’s also a good idea to unplug everything from the USB / Thunderbolt ports to eliminate any third party culprits.

Feather duster and household cleaners

Pay attention to the macOS Wifi recommendations

When you connect to a Wi-Fi network using macOS, your computer will perform some standard connection checks to make sure it’s working properly. If you have any problems, you will see a list of recommendations appear in the Wi-Fi menu. Try to fix any of these listed problems first. If the problem persists after following the suggested advice, continue with the investigation.

The Wi-Fi diagnostic tool

If you determine that the problem is WiFi related, a good place to start is to use the macOS wireless diagnostic tool.

  • Just hold the option and click the Wi-Fi icon.
Wireless diagnostics in the Wi-Fi menu
  • Click on Open Wireless Diagnostics and then run the diagnostics itself by following the wizard.
Wireless diagnostic window
  • If the tool finds something systematic, it will list the problem and you can search for them specifically. If the problem is intermittent, the diagnostic tool may not find anything. If so, the investigation continues.

Has anything changed recently?

An empty puzzle with one piece missing

The next thing you should consider is whether something specific happened when your WiFi started working.

Did you just update the drivers? Have you changed routers? If possible, try to revert the changes you made recently to see if the problem goes away.

Is it just your Mac?

It is very important to understand if your MacBook Pro is specifically the problem of the interruption of the wireless connection or if other devices using the same WiFi network are also having problems. This includes Windows laptops, smartphones, smart TVs, and anything else that uses an internet connection.

Someone holding an iPhone while sitting in front of a laptop

Are they performing as expected? If not, it might not be a problem with your MacBook Pro at all. If it occurs on multiple devices, the common factor is more likely the router.

Is it on every network?

Woman holding laptop surrounded by arrows

Likewise, don’t jump to conclusions if WiFi network outages only happen on one network. If your MacBook is the problem, chances are the problem will follow you from one WiFi network to another.

If not, again the router could be the real culprit. Be sure to read our article on how to fix your router if the connection keeps dropping.

Does the problem persist on Ethernet?

Ethernet cable

If you have an ethernet adapter for your MacBook Pro, it’s worth turning off the WiFi and connecting directly to your router. If the problem persists even when using an ethernet connection, it could once again be a router configuration issue, as this eliminates WiFi as a factor.

Is the signal strength low?

Low signal strength is always a great candidate when looking for suspected WiFi outages. Does the problem occur when you are near and in sight of the network router or access point? There are many reasons why your router may have a weak connection to your MacBook Pro.

Large satellite dish

If you find that your connection instability disappears as you approach the network access point, you may be able to fix the problem with a WiFi repeater. These extend the signal strength so that the footprint of good quality WiFi gets bigger.

You might also consider increasing the signal strength in your router settings or adding an external antenna if you haven’t already. You can read our complete guide to increasing WiFi signal strength here.

Remove sources of interference

USB Bluetooth

Modern WiFi works in the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz frequency bands. Because it is digital and has sophisticated error correction, other devices using the same frequency usually do not significantly affect performance.

However, you may want to eliminate interference as an issue by disconnecting Bluetooth devices (which are also 2.4Ghz) and moving away from devices such as microwave ovens. Switching the bandwidth on the router can also improve stability.

Is there channel competition?

A group of female runners

All WiFi systems operate at the same frequencies, so why don’t they collide with each other? The answer is that they use “channels”, which divide the main frequency into small, narrow channels.

There are 11 and 45 channels on the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies respectively. So usually your neighbor’s router will automatically use a channel that has nothing else on it. However, a router may have its channel set manually or that, for some other reason, there is too much competition to find a good channel. Channels 1,6 and 11 are popular choices for the 2.4Ghz band because they don’t overlap.

You can use a WiFi analyzer app on your smartphone or computer to see which local WiFi networks are using which channels and then set your router to use a relatively undisputed one.

Does it happen after waking from sleep?

Mac users often encounter a situation where Wi-Fi does not reconnect properly after resuming from sleep mode. The good news is that there is a fairly reliable way to fix this.

  • First, go to the Apple menu, System Preferences, then Net.
Network window in System Preferences
  • Click on Advanced. Here you will see a list of preferred networks.
Advanced Networking Tab
  • Select them all with Command + A and then click the minus button to remove them all.
All networks selected in the Wi-Fi tab
  • Now go back to the Network window from before. Click on Positions drop-down menu and then click the plus icon. Name a new location and click Done.

Now you just have to reconnect to WiFi, and from now on there should be no more problems connecting to the network after waking up from sleep mode.

Forget the network

If you find that you cannot connect to a network, even if it worked previously, the solution is often to simply forget that network and then reconnect to it.

If you read the wake up from sleep solution above, you already know how to do it. The only difference is that you will only select a single network, instead of the entire list as we did above.

No more disconnection anxiety

Dealing with MacBook Pro dropping wireless connection can be aggravating. Especially if you are used to your MacBook Pro, otherwise it works perfectly. With a little luck, some trial and error, and a little prayer to the Mac gods, hopefully you’ll now have full access to WiFi again.

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