How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems
Tuesday, November 24, 2020 7:00 AM
Are you having trouble connecting to Wi-Fi networks on your Mac after updating it to macOS Big Sur recently? Although connecting to Wi-Fi networks on a Mac is a fairly straightforward procedure for the most part, some users have reported issues with getting the internet to work over Wi-Fi after installing macOS Big Sur.
The most commonly reported macOS Big Sur-related Wi-Fi issues are that the connection drops frequently, won’t reliably connect to wi-fi, or the overall network performance is lacking. This could be due to several reasons ranging from Wi-Fi router issues, to software-related problems that you may be facing on your Mac after the update. Sometimes, improper DNS settings could also prevent you from accessing the internet.
If you’re one of those unlucky users who’re affected by this issue, you’ve come to the right place, run through the steps provided to troubleshoot and resolve Wi-Fi issues in macOS Big Sur.
Troubleshooting macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems
Regardless of whether you own a MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, iMac, or Mac Pro, you can follow these basic troubleshooting methods whenever you’re facing any connectivity-related issues on your macOS Big Sur machine. Before you go ahead with the following procedure, make sure to back up your Mac using Time Machine so that you don’t lose your settings and configuration files in case something goes wrong.
Some of the steps we’re about to discuss are simple, whereas the others require slightly more complicated tasks such as setting up a new network profile, moving system files, using custom network configurations, amongst other techniques that may be necessary to fix wireless connectivity.
1. Check for Any Software Updates & Restart Your Mac
Sometimes, buggy software can result in Wi-Fi connectivity issues on a Mac. Apple is usually quick to release a hotfix and address OS-related issues that have been reported by users. So, it’s always good to check for any available software updates from time to time.
You can check if your Mac is running the latest version of macOS by going to System Preferences -> Software Update. If there’s a new macOS update available, choose to download and install it.
2: Reboot the Mac
Whether you have a new update or not, restart your Mac and see if it resolves the Wi-Fi issue you’re facing. You may find this silly, but most minor software-related bugs and glitches can be resolved by simply rebooting your device. There’s more than one way to reboot your Mac. You can click on the Apple logo from the menu bar and choose “Restart” from the dropdown menu. Or, you can hold the power button on your Mac to bring up the shutdown menu where you’ll find the option to restart your device as well.
3. Disconnect All USB Devices from the Mac
If you have any device connected to your Mac’s USB port like external storage devices, USB hubs, dongles, etc. unplug it and see if that fixes the issue. This step is recommended because – although somewhat rare – there’s always a possibility that your Wi-Fi connectivity issues are due to hardware interference with certain connected devices that emit radio frequency.
After disconnection, if you notice that your Wi-Fi connection is working fine, then you know it’s likely hardware interference from one of the USB devices. In such cases, you can try moving the USB device further away from your Mac to minimize interference, provided the cable is long enough. Also, if you’re connected to a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network, try switching to a 5 GHz network as it may have less interference than the lower frequency band.
4. Create A New Wi-Fi Configuration in macOS Big Sur
This might be a slightly more complicated method compared to the others, but all we’re going to do is remove existing configuration files to make new ones which usually fixes wireless network issues. So, follow the steps below carefully to avoid any confusion.
- Temporarily disable Wi-Fi on your Mac by clicking on the Control Center icon in the menu bar at the top-right corner of your screen.
- Next, open Finder and head over to an easily accessible location. Make a new folder here and use a suitable name. Once you’re done, click on “Go” from the menu bar and choose “Go to Folder” from the dropdown menu to proceed.
- This should bring up a tiny window on your screen where you’ll be able to enter the path. Copy/Paste the following path and click on “Go”.
- Next, find and select the following files in the SystemConfiguration folder.
- Once all these files are selected, move them to the new folder you created. Now, restart your Mac and then re-enable Wi-Fi from the macOS Control Center.
Try opening Safari and see if you’re able to browse the web without any issues. Wireless connectivity should be working fine by now. If this method didn’t help in your instance, you’ll have to proceed to the next troubleshooting step.
5. Create A New Network Location With Custom Settings
This might be the hardest troubleshooting step for most users. Here, we’ll be creating a new network location in macOS Big Sur using custom configuration settings for DNS and MTU as they can sometimes hinder internet connectivity. Let’s take a look at the necessary steps.
- Head over to “System Preferences” on your Mac from the Dock and click on “Network” to get started. Here, make sure “Wi-Fi” is selected on the left pane and pull down the Location setting. Click on “Edit Locations” from the dropdown menu.
- Next, click on the “+” icon to manually create a new network location, and give it a suitable name like “Big Sur Wi-Fi” then click on “Done”.
- Now, go back to the Network Preferences panel and click on “Advanced” as shown in the screenshot below.
- Here, head over to the TCP/IP tab and click on “Renew DHCP Lease”.
- Once you’re done, switch to the DNS tab and click on the “+” icon below the DNS Servers area. Now, manually enter 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11 as the IP addresses for DNS servers as indicated below.
- Next, switch to the “Hardware” tab and change the “MTU” setting to “Custom”. Now, type in “1492” as the value for MTU and click “OK”.
Now, when you try to exit the Network Preferences panel, you’ll be prompted to Apply all the changes you’ve made. Choose “Apply” and reconnect to your Wi-Fi network to see if the issue has been resolved.
This is arguably one of the most effective methods of resolving software-based wi-fi issues on the Mac, so give it a try.
6. Reset the NVRAM on your Mac
For those who aren’t aware, NVRAM or Non-Volatile Random Access Memory is a small amount of memory utilized by your Mac to store certain settings for quick access. Resetting your Mac’s NVRAM is typically considered an effective troubleshooting method when your system is misbehaving.
Resetting the NVRAM is a lot easier than you think. First, shut down the Mac and immediately after you turn it back on, simply press and hold Option + Command + P + R on your keyboard for about 20 seconds. This will reset both the NVRAM and PRAM. You can confirm this when the Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time while booting up.
7. Reset the SMC of your Mac
Resetting your Mac’s System Management Controller (SMC) can sometimes resolve issues related to Wi-Fi, power, batter, and other features. It may be necessary to restore normal lower-level system functionality to your Mac especially when you’re facing hardware-related problems.
The steps to reset your Mac’s SMC may vary depending on the model you own. To reset the SMC on MacBooks with Apple’s T2 Security Chip, press and hold Control + Option + Shift on your keyboard for 7 seconds and then press and hold the power button as well. If your Mac is on, it will turn off as you hold the keys, but keep pressing all four keys together for another 7 seconds and then release them. Wait for a few seconds before you power on your Mac again.
On the other hand, if you have an older MacBook without the T2 chip, press and hold Control + Option + Shift keys while also pressing the power button for about 10 seconds to reset the SMC.
The procedure is a lot easier on Mac Desktops with or without the T2 chip. Simply shut down your Mac and unplug the power cord. Now, wait 15 seconds and plug the power cord back in. Wait for at least 5 seconds before you turn on your Mac again.
8. Reset the Wi-Fi Router / Modem
If you’re still facing problems, it’s possible that the issue is with your Wi-Fi router or modem and not the Mac itself. Hardware or firmware-related issues with your Wi-Fi router could prevent you from accessing internet over the wireless network. However, you can try resetting your Wi-Fi router to see if it fixes the issue.
Typically, you can do this by pressing the router’s power button for a few seconds and then restarting it, but the exact process of resetting routers and modems can vary per manufacturer. Hence, it’s not realistically possible to cover all the various methods here. For a more normalized procedure, you can unplug the router or modem for about 20 seconds and then plug it back in again.
9. Try a Different Wi-Fi Network, or Personal Hotspot
Another option is to try a different wi-fi network entirely, or use Personal Hotspot from an iPhone or cellular iPad. If the Mac works with a different network, or with a personal hotspot, it’s certainly an indicator the issue is with the other wi-fi router, network, or provider, and you’d want to focus troubleshooting efforts on that side of things rather than the Mac.
You can also try using the same wi-fi network with a different device, like another Mac, a PC, iPhone, iPad, Android device, or something else – if those devices are working with the wi-fi network it suggests something is going on with the Mac, whereas if those devices also are not connecting to the internet successfully, it points to an issue with a particular wi-fi network or ISP.
Hopefully by now you have resolved any Wi-Fi connectivity issue you were facing on your Mac with macOS Big Sur.
If none of the above troubleshooting methods worked in your favor, you might want to contact your internet service provider (ISP) to check for any issues on their end. Server-side issues can also prevent you from accessing the internet over Wi-Fi. One of the best ways to check if it’s actually a Wi-Fi specific issue is by using an ethernet cable and establishing a wired connection with any of your other devices.
Do you use an iPhone or iPad as your primary mobile device? In that case, you may also be interested in taking a look at some of the basic troubleshooting steps you can follow whenever you’re facing Wi-Fi connectivity issues on iPhone and iPad devices.