Having Problems With WiFi in Lion? Here’s How You Can Fix Them

Having Problems With WiFi in Lion? Here’s How You Can Fix Them

Hopefully by now you’re running Apple’s shiny new cat, OS X Lion, on your Mac. You may be noticing all the improvements and changes that Apple made in Lion, and we recommend reading our comprehensive review of Lion for all the info you need to know about the latest edition of OS X.

For most users, upgrading to Lion is a smooth and pain-free process. For others, there seems to be several problems, specifically with intermittent Wi-Fi dropouts.

Reports from disgruntled Lion users have been surfacing on the web through social networks like Twitter, and even on Apple’s discussion forums. Most of these wireless-related complaints condense into one problem: unreliable Wi-Fi connectivity.

There’s a myriad of possibilities as to why this issue could be happening for so many users, but it’s most likely related to a driver issue with some Mac wireless cards and Lion. There’s a good chance that Apple will push an updated to Lion soon to fix this problem, alongside others.

Here are some basic tips to fix spotty Wi-Fi connectivity in Lion.

Basic Wi-Fi troubleshooting tips in Lion:

  1. Turn Wi-Fi off and then back on in Airport on your Mac.
  2. Reboot your Mac.
  3. Reset your router.

Step 1 is definitely the first thing you should try to fix a bad Wi-Fi connection. Simply switching your wireless card on and off could very well fix any wonky connection between your router and Mac.

Step 2 could reset some settings on your Mac that may have carried over from Snow Leopard and caused conflicting issues with Airport, but that’s far-fetched.  Rebooting your machine is really just the most basic thing you can do to see if something can be easily corrected.

Reseting your router (unplug it for about 15-30 seconds) will theoretically fix any issues specifically related to your router not playing nice with Lion. If you’ve got some IP address confusion with multiple devices on your network, a router reset could just do the trick.

If you’re still having problems with Wi-Fi dropouts, OS X Daily has some more advanced Wi-Fi troubleshooting steps for you to try.

Let us know what your experience with Wi-Fi dropouts has been like in Lion. Did the above steps help you fix the problem? Also, feel free to share your knowledge with us all below if you’ve successfully fixed this problem on your own!

  • Borstenwurm

    I do have frequent dropouts after waking my mac from sleep. Once connected again, everything runs just fine. I got an MB467, the one and only aluminum unibody MacBook :)

  • ZappCatt

    Yep, have had some issues on a normally rock-solid WAP. The PC’s are not having any trouble, just my newly upgraded Lion install.

  • jomo25

    Interestingly, I had intermittent (mostly wake-from-sleep-related) WiFi issues with my ’10 MBA 11″ with last couple updates of SL. But with Lion, so far, its been great (touch wood).

  • Erik Ellison

    Pull the /Library/Preferences/System Configuration folder and reboot, problem solved

  • Anthony Gross

    Had two mornings in a row where connection was lost. I assumed it was because of ‘Lion’ and expected a fix soon.
    The reboot option fixed my problem the second time.

  • Ricky Rockerfield

    This only really happens when I rip CDs into iTunes. I have a bad feeling that somehow, accessing Gracenote CDDB kills the wifi connection after the track listing gets populated. That’s the only time it’s ever happened to me in Lion (2008 iMac).

  • johny.d.123

    Glad to hear its not just me having trouble with wi fi dropouts. Macbook 15 2011 anybody?

  • muzafer mujdabaev

    I had Wi-Fi problems even when I ran Snow leopard. The steps above definitely fixed the problem. Switching off and on Wi-Fi used to be a temporarily solution and to completely fix it, I had to reboot my modem and router. Surprisingly while I had those problems, my friends using PCs would never had any those type issues using the same network. I believe, Apple has some bugs in its Wi-Fi software, which it needs to address. So far, I haven’t had these problems in Lion.

  • gburroughs

    I had problems with Wi-Fi beginning with the last update of Snow Leopard and have continued with Lion.  Seems to be better after following your advice.  Thanks!

  • CharliK

    That fixed my roommate’s machine.

  • Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira

    Just delete existing WiFi connection and re-add it.<hr>
    That solved my wife´s MacBook Pro wi-Fi issue.

  • Jordan Clay

    Anybody having issues w/ running the beta version of iTunes after upgrading to Lion?

    It is saying it can’t open since it was created w/ a newer version. I’m currently in the process of downgrading, lets see if this works

  • bookr

    I upgraded to Lion, logged on to my account and then my iMac goes into kernel panic about 5 seconds later.  I have now narrowed the problem down to my D’link router.  The system is stable as long as I switch off the D’link router.  Any suggestions on how to proceed further.  I tried for help on the D’link web site but no luck.

  • coastal iPhone

    OUR FIX ON WI-FI DROPOUTS
    We started getting wi-fi dropouts on our two brand new 13″ MacBook Pro’s after installing 10.6.8. #1 computer would drop out while #2 was still connected and vice versa occasionally. We needed to go back to 10.6.7. After thinking about how to go back without losing data we discovered that a simple install of 10.6.7 from the disk that came with the computers wiped out 10.6.8. Now with 10.6.7 we merrily have good snappy connection again. We won’t go to Lion until the wi-fi problem is fixed and we figure a practical way to use Quicken for Mac that is vital to us.Coastal Guy

  • ErinsDad

    Got the same message myself on an older MBP.  What worked for me was to run update to get latest version of iTunes.  To be safe, I rebooted, then iTunes opened fine.  Can’t say this is the ‘definitive’ fix, but it worked for me.

  • CharliK

    Right now the answer to the whole Quicken issue is that you will never go to Lion. Intuit doesn’t seem to want to rewrite the program to run  without Rosetta and that “Essentials” program is a bit of a joke. So you’ll be on SL for the rest of your life on at least one machine since Rosetta doesn’t work under Lion and Apple has said it never will. 

  • CharliK

    I would be curious to see exactly what brands of router folks are running, and what wifi spec. Cause I have an Airport myself and have never had these types of problems when upgrading before Lion and that was a 30 second fix that only needed to trash a folder and restart the computer on an older machine and a 10 second flipping wifi off then on on a newer one.

    I ponder this because I wonder if it Apple’s software or the routers. 3rd party drivers of all kinds typically have problems when an OS is updated. Especially when the OS doesn’t bloat itself by baking in every possible driver anyone could maybe perhaps need. So folks need to go to the source to get the new deets

  • Wynn Bridges Gordy

    My Wifi issues since Lion seem to start when I try to wake-up my MacBook Pro

  • Gavin Liquorish

    Not really any drop outs (late 2006 Macbook), but I did have issues connecting to a wifi network I had just setup at my parents until I set it to WPA2-Mixed (AES & TKIP) from WPA2-Personal (AES only).
    Once I changed the wifi security mode it connected fine with no drop outs.

    I did have issues connecting the N wireless on my Time Capsule until I turned the wifi off & on again.

  • huaqianba
  • Richard Mauro Ricchiuti

    A call to Apple Care and 67 minutes later got it figured out and no drop in connection. I have an iMac purchased June 8th 2011. I’ll tell you what we did in detail if you contact me on Google +

  • Anthony Gross

    I unplugged/replugged my time capsule device and have not had any wifi loss since.

  • stana2z

    What worked for me was changing the channel that I was sharing my internet connection with via WiFi.  Went from channel 11 to Channel 09.  Easy fix!

  • Mark Benson

    Had same problem with Macbook Air 11″.  Resetting the router fixed it…  No problems with my iMac 24″ (yet…)

  • Mark Benson

    Had same problem with Macbook Air 11″.  Resetting the router fixed it…  No problems with my iMac 24″ (yet…)

  • Eduard Tiesto

    yeah, wi-fi is sometimes strange with lion – for me, anyway. or at least was with the preview 4 i had installed a while ago. i use my mini to share the internet connection with another laptop, and the pppoe service had a very strange glitch over wireless: it wouldn’t let the laptop load some sites, which i could access on the mini over ethernet. tried switching channels and everything. then went back to Snow Leopard :)
    maybe they fixed this with the final version. did anyone have this specific problem ?

  • Adam Farrell

    yes dropping out every hours at least what a pile of lion shit!

  • Oz Italic

    Curiously enough I have an iMac purchased on the same date. Had problems with Snow Leopard and still have problems with Lion. The Wi-Fi just drops out occasionally and need to be switched off and on to reconnect. The guys at Applecare are a bit lost now and don’t know what else to propose, besides the obvious. I’d be interested in knowing how you solved the problem. Can you be reached in any other way beside Google+? Thanks.

  • banzy

    Try to rename your network and validate again. That worked for me.

  • kirscheplotzer

    Entering my own WiFi network manually again and connecting all new worked fine for me.

  • Toby Esterhase

    Why should I have to “fix” anything—lion is a fail.

  • Ricardo MacCoy

    It did not help for me. I’m hopping for a  solution soon!!!!

  • James Betz

    This advice is as close to worthless as it could possibly be.  

  • wattgn

    It is interesting reading through the comments. It looks like there is no common solution which means to me that the Wi-Fi in Lion is a mess. Everything on my network is rock solid in the wireless department and I have customer laptops set up all the time in my PC repair business. I did the Apple upgrade last night which was supposed to fix this Wi-Fi thing and it just made it worse. This is a serious problem and the engineers obviously have not located the problem

  • skibum

    my router is an airport extreme, 17″ mbp, 2011.  problem began as soon as I “upgraded” to Lion. No dropout on my networked pc’s. don’t know yet if this “fix” will work or not, as I just did it. will know as soon as I come out of my next hibernation state. My guess is that it is a glitch related to hibernation affecting the wi fi. 

  • Hitekrednek

    My Windows 7 machines don’ suffer from this…  This seriously plagues the Lion upgrade integrity…

    Wake up Apple and get a fix!

  • Rougebaisers

    LION SUCKS

  • Rougebaisers

    Precisely. Business WILL NOT TOUCH A MAC COMPUTER NOW WITH THIS HORROR STORY OF AN OS.

  • Boris from Serbia

    Hi guys,
    THE ONLY THING THAT CAN SOLVE THE PROBLEM WITH WIFI AFTER MACBOOK WAKE UP AFTER SLEEP IS TO DELETE “/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration”  I TRY EVERYTHING BUT ONLY THIS SOLVE THE PROBLEM ! ENJOY :)

  • Daniel

    This completely resolved my problem! Changed my channel and now it works great! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! this also corrected the wifi issue i was having where my new MBP would cause all other devices to lose wifi if it was running. 

  • Experienced Mac user

    I have an iMac, two iPads, an new Apple TV and some other equipment that are normally connects very well to my wireless network by using an Airport Extreme but after upgrading to Lion on the iMac the whole wireless network has become extremely unstable and 9 out of 10 times we cannot connect to the network and I have needed to started using a cable for the Apple TV but for the rest of the equipment I have no solution and it has become useless while at home !

    Symptoms:
    Apple TV will not connect despite both the Airport Extreme can see it according to the log and the Apple TV can see the Airport Extreme.
    iPad’s can from time to time connect but very often stops and complain about an incorrect wifi password.
    Other non Apple devices cannot connect at all!
    And yes of course I have tried all the usual stuff with turning off/on and removing wireless access authentication etc..Please advice since I’m desperate to get it running again…

  • flashbak01

    If your iMac utilizes the Atheros Wi-Fi driver that is your problem. All Lion version of this driver have a serious bug in it. You need to down rev the driver. Follow this link for the older driver and install instructions. Apple needs to have fixed once and for all since 7, 7.1, and 7.2 all still suffer from this bad Atheros Wi-Fi driver!

    http://rys.pixeltards.com/2011

  • Ttjcushing

    my MacBook connected fine out of the box but after the system update it won’t connect at all. I feel like a pc and it frustrates me more than I could possibly explain

  • Ethor

    I have had considerable success cycling wifi on and off via airport.  Nevertheless, the problem recurs so frequently, it is a real pain.  I plan on recycling my WIFI per the instructions above.

  • Nathan Phillips

    i think i have fixed mine.. by the basic steps I’m just waiting to see if it holds out. 

  • Christi J Stalkfleet

    what router do i need to buy? i have Cisco Linkys E1200, that says it is not compatible and will only work on OS X Leopard 10.5 or Snow Leopard 10.6, so will the wireless router WRT120N work? 

  • mac_assistant

    I just got of the phone with Apple.  He had us remove all network locations and then add back the one here at the home.  We’ll see

  • Jan Peeters

    I had this problem too and solved it by doing a clean install. After that it was gone.
    This is a drastic method since it takes quite some time to reinstall lion and all your software.
    Thoughts I had why it started working after a clean install are the following:

    It looked like the airport wasn’t able to reconnect fast enough before it
    the connection timed out. So what could have prevented my mac from being
    able to connect fast enough?

    Apps that consume processor cycles.
    I love what I would call ‘System Enhancers’, little apps that enhance
    my workflow (Moom, Alfred, Dropbox, Default Folder etc). I’m not saying
    that these are the problem, they might be programmed processor friendly,
    but check it you have apps that consume processor cylcles. It might
    prevent airport from being able to reconnect quickly enough before it
    times out.

    Mobile Config profiles.
    Another thought I had was that I had a mobile config 802.1X profile
    installed for the company were I worked. It used TTLS to connect to the
    corporate network. This profile might have gotten in the way.

    And a sidenote…

    Routers with hardware acceleration might also be a problem.
    My router is a Wireless Gigabit Router 300N WL-351 and has hardware
    acceleration. As soon as I activate that my wifi connection keeps
    dropping. It is as if a Macbook Air can’t handle that amount of
    optimisation.

    That’s it, hope it helps those who are still having the problem.

    Best, Jan

  • crispus2000

    Likewise, launching Airport Utility and changing the channel on my Airport from Automatic (it was also on 11) to channel 9 seems to have done the trick. More precisely, I opened Airport Utility (in Applications->Utilities), clicked the Manual Settings button, selected the Wireless tab and then changed the channel pop-up. I’ll be curious to see if this works for the long haul and also if it helps with wifi flakiness between my airport and iPad.

  • FurryMoses

    I never had wifi dropouts with Snow Leopard, not one. Nor on the laptop, iPhone and AppleTV which connect to the same WIFI – all in the same room.
    But Lion (even 10.7.3) disconnects every 1-2 hours. I tried a few things, but after a month, the inconvenience was debilitating.
    I reverted back to Snow Leopard, on my iMac (mid-2010) – not a single WIFI dropout since. As expected.
    I will be staying with Snow Leopard until this is fixed.

  • Jason

    Apple has already released 3 wifi updates/patches. They do not seem to fix anything though.

  • Jason

    Apple refuses to address the issue because if they did it would cost them millions to replace all these wifi cards.

  • Jason

    These are work arounds not fixes.

  • Jason

    I have problems with wifi on my 13″ macbook pro 2011.

  • Jason

    Someone who is very legally smart should do a class action law suit because Apple will never fix this issue otherwise. I personally tried filling a complaint with the state AG because my state has lemon laws. They would not even touch my complaint. Apple has millions and teams of lawyers.

  • Jason

    That’s a temporary work around not a fix!

  • Jason

    Look people!!! This problem is occurring on many, many different Mac-book pros. Therefore, the issue is NOT our routers, wifi configurations, etc.

  • AppleSliced

    I had problems waking from sleep and file sharing / screen sharing worked inconsistently. I switched my router from mixed b/g/n to n only and that fixed it!

  • scriptThis

    I also never had this problem with snow leopard. Every time I wake my laptop from sleep the wireless won’t connect unless i reboot my router or laptop (turning off and back on the wifi doesn’t work), and even if I don’t put my laptop to sleep, every couple of hours, the same thing happens. This isn’t happening on my windows laptop or on my roommate’s mac with snow leopard. Just mine with the upgrade to Lion.

  • scriptThis

    I found this comment:

    #1: No interest in going through all that, particularly as the issue appeared to be related to corrupted settings or permissions. Also, we think we may have found a solution: going into Network Preferences, turning off Wi-Fi, deleting the Wi-Fi service, deleting the Automatic location [i had to add a new one to delete the old one, then i deleted the wi-fi service from the new one], using the + button to create Wi-Fi again, and then rejoining the network. Also, under the settings gear icon, choosing Set Service Order and moving Wi-Fi upwards.

    Here:

    http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/backstage/comments/os-x-lion-serious-wi-fi-disconnect-problems-for-macs-and-solutions/

    I tried it and have put my mac to sleep 4 times now and each time, the connection works. I will post again if this didn’t actually fix my problem, but I think it did.

  • scriptThis

    scratch that, didn’t work. this is infuriating. additionally, it’s happening on my iphone as well now that i’ve upgraded to 5.1 ios.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a senior writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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