AirPort Express frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Thinking about purchasing an AirPort Express and have some questions? Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about AirPort Express, including questions about networking, AirTunes, Printing, and other hardware features.
AirPort Express 802.11n (1st Generation), AirPort Express Base Station
Question: What is an AirPort Express?
Answer: An AirPort Express is a Wi-Fi base station. Besides acting as an Internet access point, it has several specialized features which make it ideal for specific needs.
- AirPlay - Wirelessly stream music to your entertainment system.
- Printer - Act as a wireless interface for a one printer connected to the USB port, making it available to your network
- Act as a single Wi-Fi interface to any computer or almost any other devices such as game consoles that has an Ethernet port but doesn't itself have built-in Wi-Fi
- Extend the wireless range of your existing Wi-Fi base station
Question: Why should I keep applications like iTunes, and AirPort Express Firmware up to date?
Answer: To take advantage of all of the features supported by your AirPort Express it is best to keep iTunes and your Wi-Fi base station firmware up to date. Updates often include performance and bug fixes.
Question: What do I need to do to add my game consoles or digital video recorder to my Wi-Fi network via AirPort Express?
Answer: The device must have an Ethernet port to connect the AirPort Express to, and needs to be configured correctly.
Note: You cannot do this if your AirPort Express (802.11g) is in client mode as the Ethernet port will be disabled.
Question: What is the difference between AirPort Express (802.11g) and AirPort Express (802.11g/n)?
Answer: AirPort Express (802.11g) supports legacy WDS (Wireless Distribution System) only, while the AirPort Express (802.11g/n) can be added to an 802.11n Extended Wi-Fi Network.
Question: Since AirPort Express only has one Ethernet port, does it act as a LAN port, WAN port, or both?
Answer: Depending on how you have it set up, the Ethernet port can function as a LAN port (defined as either simple bridging or sharing your Internet connection via network address translation) or a WAN port (connecting to your broadband Internet service provider or upstream router). However, it never acts as both simultaneously. By default the AirPort Express Ethernet port acts as a WAN port. When it is set up as a secondary extended Wi-Fi base station, it can act as a LAN port. Assuming that your Internet service provider only gives you one IP address (the most common scenario for homes), this means that AirPort Express can only accommodate wired clients when acting as an extender or bridge. Therefore, if you need to support wired clients and only want to get one base station (or router, as it's the routing capacity of AirPort Express that is relevant here), you should get the AirPort Extreme Base Station or Time Capsule instead.
Question: What is client mode?
Answer: Essentially it means that the AirPort Express becomes an interface for iTunes to wirelessly deliver music to your entertainment center. The Ethernet port will be disabled, and you will not be able to wirelessly connect other computers to the AirPort Express for the purpose of Internet access. For more information see this article AirPort Express: What is client mode?
Question: Where can I learn more about setting up AirPort networks?
Answer: From the Airport support page.
Question: How do I select between Analog and Digital Audio out?
Answer: The 1/8 inch connector of the AirPort Express will accept a standard stereo cable or a Toslink connector.
Question: When listening to my music through the AirPort Express the sound cuts out intermittently. How can I fix it?
Answer: The answer depends on identifying the cause:
- Poor wireless signal
- Radio Frequency Interference
- Overtaxed network
- Bad configuration
Question: I have a third-party 802.11b/g/n wireless access point. I want to put AirPort Express next to my home theater and stream iTunes to it. Can AirPort Express join the third-party network?
Answer: Yes. AirPort Express can join a third-party network in client mode, or if it is connected via Ethernet to a LAN port on the non-Apple wireless access point.
Question: Can iTunes send a single AirTunes stream to multiple AirPort Express stations?
Answer: Yes. You can send an AirTunes stream to multiple remote AirPort Express units . The maximum number of remote AirPort Express units is up to six. The actual number that will work in your environment will depend on conditions such as building composition and radio interference, distance to the remote AirPort Express units, and available network capacity relative to your other usage.
Question: Can iTunes send different AirTunes streams to different AirPort Express stations?
Answer: No. iTunes only sends the same stream to multiple AirPort Express units.
Question: Can my AirTunes stream play through my computer's speakers at the same time?
Answer: Yes. You can play through both the computer speakers and multiple remote AirPort Express units.
Question: Can I use other applications, like QuickTime or Windows Media Player, to send sound to AirPort Express via AirTunes?
Question: How can I use the USB port on my AirPort Express?
Answer: You can connect one printer or a remote control. To learn more, see Uses for the USB port of Time Capsule, AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express.
Question: A computer connects via Ethernet to an existing wireless access point/router. Can this wired client send an AirTunes stream to AirPort Express via the existing router?
Answer: Yes, if they are on the same subnet. These are common examples of when it would work:
- The existing router is an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11g) set up as WDS main, with the AirPort Express (802.11g) set up as WDS remote.
- The router is a Wi-Fi base station (902.11g/n) set up as the primary Extended Base station, and the AirPort Express (802.11n) is set up as Extended.
- The AirPort Express has joined the network (AirPort or third-party) in client mode.
- You have a wired-only router sharing your Internet connection with a separate wireless access point that bridges the network to wireless clients. As in the two examples above, the AirPort Express would be either a WDS remote or in client mode.
Question: Can I use a USB printer and hard drive at the same time?
Answer: Yes. To learn more, see Uses for the USB port of Time Capsule, AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express.
Question: AirPort Express connects via Ethernet to my third-party router, and I have plugged a compatible USB printer into AirPort Express. Will it share the printer with my non-Apple computers, too?
Answer: AirPort Express acts as a print server for any Mac OS X 10.2 or later, Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP computer that is on the same subnet, regardless of whether the third-party router is wired or wireless.
Question: Can I connect a USB hub to AirPort Express so that I can access my printer, scanner, and USB modem at once?
Answer: You can connect one printer and a remote control via a USB hub. To learn more, see our uses for the USB port document.
Questions about other hardware features
Question: Does AirPort Express offer broadband over power lines?
Answer: AirPort Express does not propagate the network over any household (AC) wiring.
Question: Does AirPort Express offer power over Ethernet (PoE)?
Question: Does AirPort Express work with accessory antennas?