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How to See Your Current Wi-Fi Connection Speed in Mac OS X

Ever since I’ve been using my new MacBook Air, I’ve been befuddled by how to do some of the simplest tasks in Mac OS X that I would normally do from my Windows laptop—like show the connection speed for the current Wi-Fi network. So am I using Wireless-N or not?

Normally, on my Windows 7 laptop, all I’d have to do is hover over the icon, or pop up the list—you can even go into the network details and see just about every piece of data about the network, all from the system tray. Here’s how to see your current connection information on your Mac.

Using Option-Click

As pointed out by anon in the comments, you can simply hold down the Option key while clicking on the menu bar icon for your Airport, and it will show you the extended information in the popup display.

Very useful. Thanks!

Using the Network Utility

You can use the Network Utility by using Cmd+Space to pull up the Spotlight search box and typing it in, or you can navigate through your Applications -> Utilities folder to find it.

Once you’re there, you can see the current connection speed by looking at the Link Speed, which will show the actual data rate that you’re using. This rate will change as you move around your house, so if you’re far away from the router, the rate will change, and if you’re closer, it will get higher.

Using the System Profiler

You can open up the System Profiler application from Spotlight search, or through Applications -> Utilities. Once you’re there, navigate down to Network -> AirPort (assuming you’re using a recent MacBook), and you’ll see the current connection over on the right. In my case, I’m indeed using Wireless-N.

When I first moved into my new house a few days ago, something didn’t seem quite right with the new Verizon router—it just wasn’t as fast as it should have been. After searching around, I was able to figure out that even though the router was set to Wireless G or N, it was defaulting to G instead of N, so I was losing a ton of speed. After upgrading the firmware, everything was fine.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/16/10

Comments (4)

  1. Anon

    Um, you can Option-Click the menu item on the Mac, which will show you the PHY mode, BSSID, the channel, the frequency, and a bunch of the useless statistics you’re interested in.

  2. The Geek

    Thanks for that! Definitely quite a bit easier.

  3. KKDK

    Thanks for Sharing this, It should be some where hidden in the missing manual documentation of Mac OSX and you brought it to light.

  4. ShomikB

    I also have a Verizon router that has compatibility mode to support G and N, but on my 2010 Macbook Pro it is using G and not N. I have the firmware upgraded on the router. Why is it defaulting to N?

    I also have a WEP security key on it, but under System profiler, the security says “None”.

    When I first used my Macbook Pro I saw it using the N band, how come it is not anymore?

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