If you have an iPhone or an iPad with cellular connectivity, you can share its Internet connection with any of your other Apple devices without having to jump through hoops. It’s a little-known feature, and we’re about to blow your mind.

Everyone already knows all about Personal Hotspot, a feature that allows a device to share an iPhone or cellular iPad’s internet connection with any device—just like tethering in the olden days. While that is pretty convenient, it’s not as good as the feature we’re talking about today: Instant Hotspot. Thanks to Instant Hotspot, you can connect to your iPhone or cellular iPad as if it were any other Wi-Fi connection, and you don’t even need to turn Personal Hotspot on to do it.

What You Need

There are some prerequisites for using Instant Hotspot:

  • Your iPhone or cellular iPad needs to be activated and connected to a cellular plan that supports tethering. Most do, but if you experience issues, this might be the culprit. You may also have to pay for this as a separate service, depending on your carrier and plan.
  • Each device involved needs to have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled.
  • All devices need to be signed into iCloud using the same Apple ID.

Assuming all as it should be, you’re good to go. There is zero configuration required on your part, and contrary to popular belief you don’t even need to have Personal Hotspot active on your iPhone or cellular iPad to have this work. Both devices just need to meet the requirements we outlined above, and be close enough together to communicate.

Allow an iPad to Share an iPhone’s or Cellular iPad’s Internet Connection

Before we get started, make sure that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled on both devices—this is the part that trips most people up, so it’s worth checking before moving on.

When that’s taken care of, open the Settings app and tap the “W-Fi” option. Next, tap the name of the device that you want to connect to. In the case of our screenshot, we’re connecting to “Oliver’s iPhone.”

Once you tap on the iPhone or iPad, a connection is established, and your iPad will have wireless, instant access to the Internet.

Allow a Mac to Share an iPhone’s or Cellular iPad’s Internet Connection

Again, Personal Hotspot does not need to be activated when connecting a Mac to an iPhone or cellular iPad. To establish the connection, click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and then click the name of the device whose internet connection you wish to share. We’re using “Oliver’s iPhone” in our screenshot.

Once you tap on the iPhone or iPad, a connection will be established, and your iPad will be good to go.

Oliver Haslam Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam is a professional freelance writer with nearly ten years of experience. His work has been published on Macworld, PCMag, 1Password's blog, and other websites. He writes about all things Apple.
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