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Archived - Mac OS X: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for PPP Modem Connections

This document answers frequently asked questions about using a conventional (analog) telephone line modem to connect to the Internet via the Point-to-Point protocol (PPP).
This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.
Note: In order to connect to the internet, you must have the proper configuration information from your Internet service provider (ISP). You may have entered this information the first time you used Mac OS X, when the Setup Assistant prompted you to enter the Internet connection information provided by your ISP.

Questions answered in this document:
  1. What is PPP?
  2. What is an example of an analog telephone modem?
  3. How can I connect to or disconnect from my ISP?
  4. How can I set up Mac OS X to automatically dial my ISP and connect to the Internet when needed?
  5. When does Mac OS X attempt to connect to the Internet?
  6. My ISP provided me with PPP access software that works with Mac OS 9. How do I make it work with Mac OS X?
  7. What if my ISP tells me that their software doesn't work with Macintosh computers, or doesn't work with Mac OS X?
  8. How can I change the phone number I use to connect to my ISP?
  9. Do I need to buy a modem?
  10. How is an analog modem connection different from a cable modem or a DSL modem connection?
  11. What do I do if my computer pauses for a long time before finally connecting?
  12. What if I cannot connect at all?
  13. Where can I find more information?



Question 1: What is PPP?

The Point-to-Point protocol is a method used when communicating data between computers via dial-up modem connections.


Question 2: What is an example of an analog telephone modem?

Any modem that uses a conventional voice (analog) phone line to connect to your ISP's server or to another computer. "Dial-up" also describes this method. Formerly, the analog modems were the only ones available to consumers. They must now be distinguished from other types of modems. You may also see "56K modem," referring to the maximum analog speed of 56 kilobits per second. Note: In the United States, FCC regulations limit connection speed to 53 Kbps .


Question 3: How can I connect or disconnect from my ISP?

Use the Internet Connect application, located in the Applications folder. For more information, please see technical document 106717, "Mac OS X: How to Connect to the Internet via PPP (Dial-Up Access) Using a Modem."


Question 4: How can I set up Mac OS to automatically dial my ISP and connect to the Internet when needed?

    1. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
    2. Click the Network icon.
    3. Be sure the Show pop-up menu is set to your modem (the "Configure" menu prior to Mac OS X 10.1), or other dial-up device.
    4. Click the PPP tab.
    5. Click PPP Options.
    6. Click the checkbox to select the "Connect automatically when starting TCP/IP applications" option.
    7. Click OK.
    8. Click Apply Now ("Save" prior to Mac OS X 10.1).


Question 5: When does Mac OS X attempt to connect to the Internet?

Using a Web browser or email application are the two most common reasons. But Mac OS X also attempts an Internet connection to:

  • download current Mac Help information, including Late-Breaking News.
  • use the Software Update feature.
  • perform a Sherlock Internet search.
  • set your clock using a network time server.

These are only examples. You may use the Internet in many other ways. You should expect a delay of several seconds while connecting (or while reconnecting after a disconnection).


Question 6: My ISP provided me with PPP access software that works with Mac OS 9. How do I make it work with Mac OS X?

Mac OS X does not require the PPP access software that your ISP may have provided. The System Preferences and Internet Connect applications can store all necessary information for making a PPP connection.


Question 7: What if my ISP tells me that their software doesn't work with Macintosh computers, or doesn't work with Mac OS X?

Your ISP may not have Mac OS-specific software, but the good news is that you do not need it. Most ISPs only require that you provide the correct user name and password when your computer connects to their service. Mac OS X can do this without any additional software.


Question 8: How can I change the phone number I use to connect to my ISP?

Use the Internet Connect application, located in the Applications folder. If you do not see the Telephone Number, Name, and Password text fields, click the disclosure triangle to the right of the Configuration pop-up menu.


Question 9: Do I need to buy a modem?

Most Mac OS X-compatible computers include an internal Apple 56K modem. All iMac and iBook computers include one. To see if you have a modem, look on the back or side of your computer for the modem port. The port looks like a standard telephone jack, and it is marked with a phone symbol.




Figure 1 Ports of an iMac

If you do not have a modem, you may wish to consider purchasing a USB modem. You can search the Macintosh Products Guide for modems (http://guide.apple.com/).


Question 10: How is an analog modem connection different from a cable modem or a digital subscriber line (DSL) modem connection?

  • Speed - Most cable and DSL connections range from 384 Kbps to 6 megabits per second. Speed varies significantly by ISP, service plan, user density, and other factors. In the United States, the maximum FCC approved speed of an analog modem built to the v.90 standard is 53 Kbps, though it is normal if your modem connects at a slower speed due to phone line conditions. In practice, this means that you can load Web pages and download files 10 to 110 times faster by using cable or DSL service.
  • Constant Connection - Cable and DSL connections are always active, which means you do not have to wait for the modem to connect to the Internet. They also leave your phone line free. An analog modem must place a phone call to your Internet service provider at the beginning of each connection session. A phone line in use by an analog modem cannot be used for any other purpose, such as receiving phone calls, without the use of additional hardware and/or software.
  • Connecting to Your Computer - Analog modems connect via serial port, USB, or internal modem slots. Cable and DSL modems connect to your computer via Ethernet, the same type of high-speed wiring used in office networks.
  • Sound - Cable and DSL modems are normally quiet. Analog modems can usually be set up to amplify their dial-up and negotiation sequences.

    Note: Mac OS X 10.0 through 10.0.4 do not have an analog modem sound feature. Please see technical document 106162: "Mac OS X 10.0: Internal Modem Makes No Sound When Connecting"


Question 11: What do I do if my computer pauses for a long time before finally connecting?

Your computer may pause before ultimately connecting to your Internet service provider. A spinning disc cursor may appear. If you experience this issue, try updating to Mac OS X 10.1.5. See software download document 106888, "Mac OS X Update 10.1.5: Enhancements and 'Before You Install' Information".


Question 12: What if I cannot connect at all?

If you are unable to connect, please see technical document 106928, "Macintosh: Apple Internal Modem Cannot Establish or Maintain a Connection to Some ISPs."


Question 13: Where can I find more information?

More information should be available from your ISP.

Related documents

106432: "Mac OS X: DSL/PPPoE Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)"
106447: "Mac OS X: How to Gather Modem Troubleshooting Information"
106283: "Mac OS X 10.0: Using LocalTalk Hardware and Serial Port Devices"

Last Modified: Feb 20, 2012
  • Last Modified: Feb 20, 2012
  • Article: TA20531
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