You’re in the middle of a trip, or maybe just out and about, and you need to connect your laptop to the internet. You think, ‘No worries! I’ll just use my iPhone’s personal hotspot’. But then, the unexpected happens – your laptop won’t connect. What a frustrating situation!

This can happen from time to time – and the good news is that there are several potential reasons, which can often be solved easier than you think. So, let’s explore this common issue and figure out how to rectify it.

What is a Personal Hotspot on iPhone?

First of all, let’s determine what a personal hotspot is and how it works. The Personal Hotspot feature on an iPhone allows you to share the device’s internet connection with other devices, such as laptops or tablets. It essentially turns your iPhone into a mini wireless router, using your mobile data to provide internet access to connected devices.


To set it up, you can go to Settings > Personal Hotspot, and toggle the switch to turn it on. Once activated, nearby devices will be able to detect and connect to your iPhone just like they would with any other Wi-Fi-network.

Laptop Can’t Connect to iPhone Hotspot: The Potential Causes

Experiencing difficulties when trying to tether your laptop to your iPhone’s hotspot can be quite frustrating, especially when you’re relying on this connection to get work done or to simply browse the web. Let’s take a look at the potential causes behind these hitches to better understand and, hopefully, remedy the situation.

  • Incorrect password entry: Double-check that you have entered your password correctly while connecting. Sometimes, a minor oversight like having the Caps Lock key on can lead to entering the wrong password. Plus, make sure you’re entering the right password, especially if you have recently changed it.
  • Outdated drivers: Your laptop’s Wi-Fi driver might be outdated or corrupted, causing connectivity problems. It’s a good idea to regularly update drivers to avoid this issue. Plus, other software on your laptop can conflict with Wi-Fi drivers. If you’ve recently installed something, it might be the culprit.
  • Network settings: A misconfigured DNS or proxy setting might be blocking the connection. Or, if your laptop was previously connected to a different network, there might be lingering conflicts. Sometimes, laptops might simply fail to automatically connect, which requires a manual selection of the iPhone’s hotspot network.
  • Hotspot data limits: Some mobile phone plans come with data caps. If you have hit your monthly limit, hotspot features might be restricted. Along with this, your mobile network might throttle or reduce speeds after a certain amount of high-speed data usage, which could impact hotspot connectivity. And finally, some providers may have a fair usage policy that can limit the amount of data you can use in a specific timeframe.
  • Interference and environment: Walls, especially those made of concrete and metal, can weaken Wi-Fi signals. Other electronic devices, such as microwaves or cordless phones, might also cause interference. Overcrowded channels can also have an impact. If there are many Wi-Fi networks in your vicinity, this can lead to interference.
  • iPhone settings: For the hotspot to work, mobile data needs to be switched on. If it’s off, the hotspot feature won’t function. Plus, if you are abroad, data roaming restrictions might prevent hotspot functions unless data roaming is activated.

Laptop Won’t Connect to Hotspot iPhone: What Else Might It Be?

Trying to connect your laptop to your iPhone’s hotspot, only to be met with failure, can indeed test your patience. As technology becomes an increasingly seamless part of our lives, disruptions to this flow can feel jarring. Here are some further reasons why your laptop might resist the connection to your iPhone’s hotspot:

  • Aeroplane mode mishaps: It’s easy to swipe into control settings and accidentally turn on Aeroplane Mode without realising. Plus, at times, even after you’ve deactivated Aeroplane Mode, your phone might still act as if it’s switched on, blocking network connections. Or, there might be a lag before networks are detected and available again.
  • Insufficient mobile signal: If you are in a remote area away from urban centres, mobile reception might be weak or intermittent, which can affect your hotspot connection. Network congestion can also be a problem – in crowded places or during peak times, too many users might be accessing the network, causing slowdowns or disruptions.
  • Simultaneous connections: iPhones can support only a certain number of devices at once on their hotspot. Exceeding this might prevent new connections. Along with this, your iPhone might prioritise certain connections over others based on previous interactions.
  • Bluetooth and USB issues: If you are using USB tethering, a damaged cable might be the issue. For Bluetooth connections, other nearby devices or electronic equipment could cause interference. Pairing issues between your iPhone and laptop can occur, especially if the devices have been paired to multiple other gadgets in the past.
  • Software updates and compatibility: If your iPhone or laptop hasn’t been updated recently, compatibility issues might arise. On the other hand, sometimes after an update, certain functionalities can go haywire temporarily until bugs are fixed.

Mobile Tethering Not Working: How to Fix Common Issues

Once you’ve identified the potential issues, the next step is troubleshooting and fixing them. Thankfully, most common problems can be addressed effectively.

When dealing with password troubles, the first port of call should be thoroughly checking the password you’re entering. Often, it’s easy to overlook a small error, especially if you’ve recently changed it. Consider resetting the password on your iPhone to something straightforward, without special characters.

Aeroplane mode and mobile signal issues can be a major hiccup. The good news is that a simple yet often effective trick is to toggle Aeroplane mode on and off; this resents network connections and can often resolve minor glitches. If signal strength is the issue, consider relocating to a place with better reception, perhaps closer to a window. Sometimes, a full restart of your iPhone can also help to refresh the network connections.

Exploring network settings and drivers can seem a bit daunting, but it might be essential if your hotspot isn’t working. It’s a good idea to keep your laptop’s Wi-Fi drivers up to date; this can be done through the device manager or by visiting the manufacturer’s website. On your iPhone, you can try to reset the network settings (although this will erase all saved networks and their passwords), which can often solve persistent connection problems. On your laptop, consider ‘forgetting’ the iPhone network and then try to reconnect again.

Take some time to explore your hotspot settings and restrictions. If tethering isn’t part of your mobile data plan or if there are data limits you’ve surpassed, these might be barriers. In some cases, simply turning off the personal hotspot feature, waiting a few moments, and then switching it back on again might do the trick.

Finally, don’t forget about the limit on simultaneous connections. Like many devices, iPhones have a cap on how many gadgets can connect at once. Check the list of connected devices on your iPhone’s hotspot settings. If it’s crowded, disconnecting a few might make space for your laptop.

While the personal hotspot feature on an iPhone is incredibly useful, occasional hiccups can disrupt its functionality. Thankfully, connectivity issues are often the result of common problems that are easy to resolve with a bit of research and know-how.