While working on my DD-WRT project for my NetGear R7000 router, I ran some tests to see what the ideal connection setup for my router would be.
During the testing you’d typically want to see the speed of your WiFi connection, possibly including noise, RSSI, channel, country code, used frequency, etc. and initially it can be a bit daunting where to find this information. But … surprise: this info is readily available on your Mac, no extra software is needed, you just need to know where it’s hidden …
Therefor in this article 4 methods to figure this out on your Mac, without the need to install specific software for the task.
Determining WiFi speed on your Mac
Below I’ll show you 4 methods to determine some of the characteristics of your current WiFi connection.
For this we will use build-in tools that come with your MacOS X.
I highly recommend the first method, since it’s easy to access, fast and provides a lot of good information.
To examine the speed of your WiFi connection, you can use the WiFi icon in the menu bar of your Mac.
Simply clicking it though will not provide you this information. You’ll have the press the OPTION (or ALT) key and keep it pressed while clicking the WiFi icon.
When you do so, a list will be presented with additional data:
- WiFi network name (SSID)
- IP Address of your computer
- IP Address of the router or modem
- If Internet is reachable
- What type of security is used
- Country Code (each country has it’s own set of regulations)
- RSSI (Received signal strength indication)
- Noise (signal disruption)
- TX Rate (tansmission speed)
- PHY Mode (Radio mode)
- MCS Index (index number for modulation and coding the signal)
MacOS X – WiFi info with ALT+Click on WiFi icon
Method 2: System Information Report
This method is a little bit more limited, yet provides good info.
Go to the icon in the upper left corner of your screen, select “About this Mac” “System Report…“.
(you can find this also through Spotlight by typing “System Information”)
MacOS X – Wifi info in the System Report
Method 3: Network Utility
Network Utility is a little harder, as it seems to have the habit of changing location with each MacOS X version.
The easiest way to find Network Utility is through Spotlight.
Open Spotlight, type “Network Utility“, and press ENTER.
Select under the “Info” tab, select your WiFi device from the dropdown list, and you’ll see your speed under “Link Speed“.
Note: Sometimes Network Utility does not show your WiFi connection. Close the application and try again.
MacOS X – WiFi Speed through Network Utility
Method 4: Terminal (Command Line)
This is more for those folks that prefer the Terminal, and honestly, it took me a while to find this one.
Open a Terminal (Applications Utilities Terminal) and type:
The output should show something like this, where you see “lastTXRate” and “maxRate” indicating speed values for your WiFi.
op mode: station
802.11 auth: open
link auth: wpa2-psk
In Terminal you could create a shortcut for this, and this can be done in 2 ways.
One is creating and alias (recommended), and the other by creating a symbolic link.
Either solution allows you to simply type “airport” on Terminal without having to type the full path.
The creation of an alias is recommended, and can be done like so (thanks Greg for the excellent suggestion!):
Or if you prefer a symbolic link:
sudo ln -s /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/airport