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 802.11ac 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 Information Utility

You can open up the System Information application from Spotlight search, or through Applications -> Utilities. Once you’re there, navigate down to Network -> Wi-Fi or Network -> Airport depending on how old your MacBook and version of OS X might be, and you’ll see the current connection over on the right. In my case, I’m using Wireless-N. Perhaps it’s time to upgrade!

This can be really useful to make sure that your router is functioning the way that you think it should be. Sometimes that 802.11N router is actually defaulting to G instead, and you’re missing out on a lot of speed.

Profile Photo for Lowell Heddings Lowell Heddings
Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
Read Full Bio »