OS X: Using The Wi-Fi status menu

You can display the status of your Wi-Fi connection in the menu bar. Use this menu to easily switch between Wi-Fi networks or turn your Wi-Fi connection on or off.

How do I enable Wi-Fi status in the menu bar?

You can turn this feature on or off from the Network pane of System Preferences.

Network preferences pane of System Preferences 

  1. From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences.
  2. Click Network in the System Preferences window.
  3. Select Wi-Fi in the list of available network connections.
  4. Select (check) the option to "Show Wi-Fi status in menu bar."

What do the different Wi-Fi status icons in the menu bar mean?


When this is displayed, the Wi-Fi hardware within the computer is powered off. It may be useful to turn your Wi-Fi connection off when you are directed to on an airplane, in a hospital, or in other places where a Wi-Fi signal might interfere with sensitive monitoring devices or where it might be prohibited by local regulations.


While searching for wireless access points, the Wi-Fi icon bars individually alternate from grey to black until the computer has been assigned an IP address.



If your computer is given a self-assigned IP address by the Wi-Fi connection, an Alert icon appears. This icon appears if your wireless connection is configured for DHCP but it doesn't get a lease, and no other interface is correctly configured.


Your Wi-Fi hardware is on and working correctly but is not connected to any wireless network. Pick a Wi-Fi network from the list to use the connection.

Computer-to-Computer Network

This icon appears if you create a wireless network between two or more Wi-Fi capable computers without using a wireless router (like an AirPort Base Station). Other Wi-Fi capable  computers within range can join the network you create.

Computer-to-computer networks are not compatible with WPA or WPA2 protected networks.

Internet Sharing

This icon indicates that Internet sharing has been enabled in the Sharing pane of System Preferences. If your computer is connected to the Internet, you can share your connection with other computers on your local network. For example, if your computer is connected to the Internet using a DSL modem, you can share your DSL connection with other Wi-Fi capable computers.

If your Internet connection and your local network use the same port (Ethernet, for example), investigate possible side effects before you turn on Internet sharing. In some cases (if you use a cable modem, for example) you might unintentionally affect the network settings of other ISP customers, and your ISP might terminate your service to prevent you from disrupting their network.


If you see this icon, your computer has detected a problem with OS X or your Wi-Fi hardware. Use Software Update to check for any OS X or firmware updates. If this doesn't resolve the issue, reinstall OS X. If reinstalling OS X does not correct the issue, your computer may need service.

How can I determine a network signal's signal strength?

The Wi-Fi status menu includes signal strength for all available wireless networks, so you can see which access point has the best signal before selecting it. Four signal bars appear in the Wi-Fi status icon in the menu bar. The more bars that are black, the higher the signal quality.  The bars do not indicate the connection rate. This rate varies depending on your environment.


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