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How to Turn Your Computer into a Hotspot Wi-Fi Router

Using a cellular modem, you can easily turn a computer into a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

You likely already know how to turn your phone into a personal Wi-Fi hotspot. If not, well, go to your phone’s settings, search for “hotspot,” and the rest is self-explanatory. The idea is that you make the phone work as a mobile hotspot, like a JetPack from Verizon, to share its cellular Internet connection with other Wi-Fi devices.

What you might not know is you can do the same with a computer, say a laptop. It’s a great way to get multiple devices online when the Internet connection is available to a single computer, like when you travel and don’t want to pay for more than one device. This post is all about that.

What you need to turn a computer into a hotspot Wi-Fi router

You first need a computer (running Windows 10 or macOS) and a live Internet connection. And then you need a bit more.

The computer must have a free Wi-Fi card — one that’s not being used to access the Internet connection that you want to share. That said the machine must access the Internet via a different mean, such as:

  • A cellular connection like a mobile modem — I used one for this post. Or
  • A wired connection via its network port. Or
  • A separate Wi-Fi card — you can always add another Wi-Fi card to a computer using a USB adapter. 

Again, make sure that the computer has a dedicated Wi-Fi card for the hotspot function. Since we tend to use Wi-Fi to access the Internet, it’s a good idea to get a second USB Wi-Fi adapter. It’ll come in handy.

The good news is a relatively cheap one will do and do better than when you use a phone as a hotspot. At the very least, you won’t need to worry about battery life.

How to make a hotspot Wi-Fi router out of a Windows 10 computer

You can make a Windows 10 computer work as a mobile hotspot via two quick steps. 

1. Find Mobile Hotspot Settings on the Start Menu — you can search for it — and click on it to open up the dialog where you can turn on this feature and customize it.

You can quickly find any setting by searching for it on Windows 10’s Start Menu. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Now, on the Settings page that appears, click on Edit to change your Wi-Fi network’s name or password. Or you can accept the default value.

Windows 10 automatically pick the network card that’s currently connected to the Internet as the source of the Wi-Fi hotspot. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

2. Move the slider under Share my Internet connection with other devices to On.

And that’s it. Now on a Wi-Fi device, you’ll find the Wi-Fi network and connect to it. Windows 10 allows for sharing the Internet to up to eight devices.

How to turn a Mac into a hotspot Wi-Fi router

There are a few more steps on a Mac computer, but the process is still quite simple.

1. Open the Mac’s control panel by clicking on the Apple icon (top-left corner) and click on System Preferences…

2. Click on Sharing, which will open up the Sharing setting window.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

3. Pick the right hardware

  • Click on Internet Sharing (don’t check the box yet).
  • Then pick the sharing source, which is the adapter that currently connects to the Internet.
  • Now check the Wi-Fi box as the method used to share the Internet. 
  • Click on Wi-Fi Options…
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

4. Customize the hotspot’s Wi-Fi settings to your liking. Then click on OK.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

5. Check the Internet Sharing box and answer the prompt that appears affirmatively.

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Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

And that’s it. Generally, you can connect around five devices to a Mac’s hotspot. 

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About the Author: Dong Ngo

Before Dong Knows Tech, I spent some 18 years testing and reviewing gadgets at CNET.com. Technology is my passion and I do know it. | Follow me on Twitter, or Facebook!

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