A Guide to Fix Mac Not Connecting to Wi-Fi in macOS Recovery

A Guide to Fix Mac Not Connecting to Wi-Fi in macOS Recovery

If your Mac reacts or keeps crashing, the built-in recovery mode can help. MacOS Recovery is the diagnostic tool designed to help remove the obstacles that prevent your MacBook from starting properly. You can also use macOS Recovery to erase your hard drive, perform a disk restore from a Time Machine backup, reinstall an older version of macOS, and more.


Fix selected image of macOS Recovery over Wi-Fi for Mac

There is also Internet Recovery Mode, which is Internet dependent mode that reinstalls the original version of macOS that came with your MacBook. If your Mac won’t connect to Wi-Fi in one of these modes, we’ve compiled some troubleshooting checks to correct the error. For normal macOS recovery mode, you can turn off Wi-Fi and turn it back on. To do this, click on the Wi-Fi icon in the upper right corner of the menu bar and select “Turn off Wi-Fi”. Turn on your device’s Wi-Fi again and try to connect to a network.

Fix Mac Not Connecting to macOS Wi-Fi 05 Recovery

Fix Mac Not Connecting to macOS Wi-Fi 05 Recovery

Proceed to the troubleshooting solutions below if your Mac still can’t find any networks, or if it can’t connect to visible Wi-Fi networks.

1. Check the router

Whenever you have Wi-Fi connectivity issues on your mobile devices or PC, we always recommend that you check that the router is working properly. If your MacBook can’t detect Wi-Fi networks in recovery mode, make sure the router is turned on. Likewise, confirm that the router’s SSID is not hidden.

If so, you can view the network or manually enter its credentials (SSID and password) in macOS Recovery.

Connect to hidden Wi-Fi in macOS recovery mode

Step 1: Tap the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and select “Join other networks”.

Fix Mac Not Connecting macOS Wi-Fi 06 Recovery

Fix Mac Not Connecting macOS Wi-Fi 06 Recovery

2nd step: Enter the network credentials (network name and password) in the specified boxes and click Join.

Fix Mac Not Connecting macOS Wi-Fi Recovery 07

Fix Mac Not Connecting macOS Wi-Fi Recovery 07

Connect to Hidden Wi-Fi in Internet Recovery Mode

Step 1: Press the Choose a network drop-down button.

Fix Mac Not Connecting macOS Wi-Fi Recovery

Fix Mac Not Connecting macOS Wi-Fi Recovery

2nd step: Tap the ellipsis icon (three dots) to launch the Internet recovery menu Wi-Fi authentication page.

Fix Mac Not Connecting to macOS Wi-Fi 01 Recovery

Fix Mac Not Connecting to macOS Wi-Fi Recovery 01

Step 3: Enter the Wi-Fi SSID and password (as displayed in the router’s control panel) in the appropriate dialog boxes and click the check mark icon to connect to the network.

Fix Mac Not Connecting to macOS Wi-Fi Recovery 02

Fix Mac Not Connecting to macOS Wi-Fi Recovery 02

If your Mac still won’t connect to the Wi-Fi network (stuck on the charging icon), try moving the router closer to your Mac – or vice versa. It can help improve Wi-Fi signal and network reception.

Fix Mac Not Connecting macOS Wi-Fi Recovery 03

Fix Mac Not Connecting macOS Wi-Fi Recovery 03

You can also try to connect to another network. If your Mac has successfully established a connection with another router / device, there is a good chance that there are restrictions or limitations preventing your device from connecting to the affected network. Suppose your Mac has been stuck on a router. For example, you cannot connect to the network in macOS recovery mode or the Internet. If you have access to the control center or router software, check and unlock the MAC address of your MacBook.

2. Reset Mac Wi-Fi settings

If your Mac still doesn’t connect to a Wi-Fi network in the macOS recovery menu, shut it down (hold the power button until it turns off) and restart it normally. Then reset the Wi-Fi settings.

Note: Proceed to Method # 3 if your Mac cannot start normally.

Fix macOS recovery image of Mac not connecting to Wi-Fi

Fix macOS recovery image of Mac not connecting to Wi-Fi

This will remove any previously connected wireless networks on your Mac. However, you can potentially fix issues that prevent your Mac from connecting to Wi-Fi in macOS Recovery.

There are three ways you can reset a MacBook’s Wi-Fi settings. Either by:

  • Delete and read the Wi-Fi interface.
  • Delete Wi-Fi configuration files.
  • TCP / IP stack reset.

Check out our full guide on how to reset Wi-Fi settings on Mac for step-by-step instructions on each of the methods listed above. After resetting the Wi-Fi, check if you are able to establish a connection with a Wi-Fi network in normal mode. If you can, shut down your Mac, restart in Internet Recovery Mode (hold Command + Option + R after pressing the power button), and try to connect to Wi-Fi.

Alternative: use Ethernet

Fix Mac not connecting macOS Wi-Fi 02 recovery image

Fix Mac not connecting macOS Wi-Fi 02 recovery image

In terms of stability and usage experience, Ethernet is much better than Wi-Fi. Interestingly, Mac supports using Ethernet in Internet recovery mode. So, if your MacBook won’t connect to Wi-Fi in recovery mode, possibly due to complex system errors or hardware damage, you might have to resort to installing macOS in recovery mode over Ethernet.

For older MacBooks with an Ethernet port, insert an Ethernet cable plugged into a router (or other Internet source) in recovery mode. Your Mac will automatically detect the Ethernet cable and immediately begin downloading macOS.

Fix Mac not connecting macOS Wi-Fi 04 recovery

Fix Mac Not Connecting macOS Wi-Fi Recovery 04

For Macs without a built-in Ethernet port (most modern Macs), you’ll need a USB-C to Ethernet adapter to connect your device to an Ethernet cable. Check out some of the best Ethernet adapters for Mac that offer the best value for money.

Get your Mac checked

It should be noted that Internet Recovery Mode only works on MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac released between 2010/2011 and newer. If you have an older Mac running Mac OS X Lion or anything else below, it might not be able to connect to Wi-Fi in recovery mode. And if your MacBook still won’t connect to Wi-Fi in macOS recovery mode after trying the troubleshooting tips above, visit an authorized Apple Store or service center to have it checked for possible hardware damage on Wi-Fi antenna or hard drive.

Then:

Does your Mac get stuck on a black screen during startup? If so, refer to the solutions in the guide linked below to fix your Mac and restart it without breaking the bank.

Last updated on Nov 12, 2020

The above article may contain affiliate links that help support Guiding Tech. However, this does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains impartial and authentic.

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