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WiFi is something we all take advantage of, day to day, which makes it frustrating when your WiFi signal isn't reliable. Like so much technology we use often, we expect WiFi to just work!
But it doesn’t always “just work,” and finding the answers for why your WiFi is failing or not as performant can be confusing. Not to worry – we’ve got you covered. Here we’ll discuss the best Mac WiFi analyzer apps, why you should have a WiFi analyzer for Mac, and what a great analyzer can do for you.
Here’s a scenario we’ve all run into often: our Mac or iPhone says it has a WiFi signal, but you can’t get online. There’s a WiFi available, and your device is accessing it, but nothing is happening.
Sometimes it’s your internet service provider; the company you get internet access through may be experiencing difficulties or disruptions, which can affect you. More often, it’s your WiFi signal that’s having issues. Something about the signal getting from the router in your home or via public WiFi is causing your signal to become unreliable, which can render you unproductive.
A WiFi analyzer helps you diagnose what the issue really is without toggling your computer or router off. While the ‘turn it off and on’ ethos often works, it’s not always indicative of what’s going on. With a proper wifi analyzer Mac computers can stay online via the strongest signal available.
You may be wondering why you need a Mac OS WiFi analyzer. Finding the best wifi analyzer Mac computers can use will help you stay online, discover why your internet signal is poor, and how to fix it quickly.
Here are a few reasons to get a WiFi analyzer for your Mac:
Okay, now that you know why you want a WiFi analyzer for your Mac – which are the best?
There’s no single solution. Everyone’s needs are unique, and finding the right WiFi analyzer may take a bit of trial and error – but don’t worry, we’ve got some great advice for you. Here are some excellent services and apps for analyzing and troubleshooting your Mac’s WiFi connectivity.
Your Mac has a built-in wireless diagnostics tool that does a serviceable job of monitoring your WiFi signal. It’s a bit hidden, though, so carefully follow the instructions below to use it:
Your Mac will analyze your WiFi signal strength, and discover if it is working properly. If it isn’t working as your Mac feels it should, it will produce a report of all the things wrong with it at the time the tool was run, and create a summary of topics you should read up on (like “best practices”) or items that may fix your signal.
As you can imagine, this is limiting. Not only does the report only examine a snippet of time, it takes a long while to produce a report, which doesn’t give you a real time look at how your WiFi signal is performing. By the time your Mac is done creating a report on why the WiFi signal is poor, that same signal could have improved!
There are some impressive apps that do a much better job of analyzing, troubleshooting, and diagnosing your Mac’s WiFi in real-time.
When you’re analyzing a WiFi signal, chances are you’re met with a lot of data that’s difficult to make sense of. NetSpot has all of that data, too, but has one of the best visual representations of your Mac’s WiFi signal strength we’ve ever seen.
NetSpot’s main menu shows you a network’s name, channel, band, and other items like it’s signal to noise ratio. These are all really handy bits of data when you know what you’re looking for, but sometimes a visual aide is better.
Selecting a WiFi signal and selecting ‘details’ on the bottom left of the NetSpot window brings up a real time visual representation of that signal’s strength. You can also select multiple WiFi signals to compare them side by side on this evolving graphic; a great option for those with multiple signals or channels available in their home!
Another excellent feature of NetSpot is its ability to map your home, and discover dead spots for WiFi coverage. Rather than assuming why your signal strength is diminished in an area, NetSpot lets you know exactly where it’s not as great throughout your home!
Where NetSpot has unique windows for visual graphics and data, WiFi Explorer keeps it all in one window so you don’t have to navigate. It uses familiar side bar options for discovering more about a signal, or navigating the app – but it’s main information window is where all the data is displayed.
You will see all of the data you’re looking for, like channel, signal strength, bands, and even the maximum speeds the band is capable of. Selecting a new WiFi signal automatically triggers the visual graphics at the bottom of the window to display that signal’s data in a morphing graph. You can even select bars on the center graph to change the view in the signal-strength app on the left side; a great option for those with mesh networks who are experiencing poor signal performance when they shouldn't be.
iStumbler is another great app for discovering which WiFi networks are available to you, and getting detailed information on their signal strength, including the signal to noise ratio for each signal. The app also has a great map view that shows you where routers are placed, providing a holistic view of how WiFi in your area is laid out, and where you may find the best signal.
Another native Mac app, WiFi Scanner is much like WiFi Explorer in that it provides a single window that displays all the information about available WiFi signals in your area. It also has graphs to view when you’re more interested in visual aides, and allows you to toggle the information seen on-screen to suit your needs.
Sometimes you don’t need a ton of info, but you need to know why your WiFi is underperforming quickly. That’s where iStat Menus steps in. It lives in your menu bar, and provides quick-glance access to information like CPU performance, battery health, and yes – network performance.
iStat Menus has drop-down menus that provide high-level information about your WiFi signal, and hovering over items can surface even more sub-menus with additional data. Though it lives in your menu bar, iStat Menus can actually give some pretty granular detail on how your WiFi is performing. The menu bar icons show you upload and download speeds, too.
WiFi shouldn’t be a mystery. We tend to think of it as a thing that should ‘just work’ but it often doesn’t. Simple fixes like unplugging the modem and router for a short time may work, but they’re not indicative of what the problems are.
Instead, find a WiFi analyzer app that suits your needs, and offers the features you want. So often, simply switching to a better WiFi signal is the fix you need.
The apps mentioned here today – WiFi Explorer, iStat Menus, and NetSpot – are all available for free as part of a seven day trial of Setapp, an amazing suite of productivity apps for your Mac. In addition to these three apps, you’ll get immediate access to nearly 200 other native Mac apps, and retaining unlimited access to the full Setapp suite after your trial period is just $9.99 per month, so why wait? Give Setapp a try!
Meantime, prepare for all the awesome things you can do with Setapp.Read on
Today, one can only imagine what they would do without the internet and WiFi. While wired connections are still pretty much prevalent, nothing really beats the convenience of WiFi and wireless networks are also catching up in terms of speed. In this article, we are going to talk about how you can get the most out of your WiFi network by monitoring the performance of your network and improving it with these Wi-Fi analyzing tools for macOS.
Note: Most of these apps only work with the built-in WiFi adapter of your Mac and do not work with an external adapter.
Also Read: 10 Best WiFi Analyzer for Windows 10/8/7
macOS itself comes with a Wireless Diagnostics tool which you can use to scan all available wireless networks and get a summary of all the channels that your device can connect to. From the summary, it is able to suggest the best 2.4 GHz or 5GHz channel or network suitable for you. It can also be used to monitor the network performance, get log information and even as a sniffer to capture WiFi traffic.
To access it, while holding the Option key click on the WiFi icon in the menu bar and you should see an option as “Open Wireless Diagnostics” which should take you to your built-in WiFi analyzer. Or simply you can also open Spotlight Search and type in “Wireless Diagnostics”.
You can get away with the Wireless Diagnostics tool if you need to troubleshoot some minor issues in your personal network. Although it is not very powerful, given it comes built-in and free, you can’t really complain.
WiFi Signal is one of the more simpler apps on this list which provides all the information you need about your wireless network in a compact and elegant card fashion. The app lives on your menu bar, the icon of which can be fully customized and clicking on it gives you everything from the Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) to the max data rate and MCS index of your connection. There is a real-time graphical representation of the signal rate and noise rate and the app can also recommend the best channel.
Read: Create a WiFi hotspot from Android which is already connected to WiFi
If you are someone who needs to check the strength or quality of your current network from time to time, this app provides you all the info in an elegant card fashion along with a customizable menu bar icon.
Download WiFi Signal ($4.99)
WiFi Explorer is one of the highest rated WiFi analyzer apps on the Mac App Store and rightfully so. The app does a great job at scanning, monitoring, and troubleshooting wireless networks.
The app provides various real-time graphs for network details, signal strength, and spectrum which makes it much more intuitive for even a normal person to effectively use the app. Apart from the details of your connected network, the graphs also display all the networks your device can connect to, along with all their details which comes in really handy for choosing the strongest access point for your computer. A bonus feature of this app is that you can save all the results for a later review and even export all the network details as a CSV file.
Wi-Fi Explorer is great for quickly identifying channel conflicts, signal overlapping or configuration problems that may be affecting the connectivity and performance of your home, office or enterprise wireless network.
Download WiFi Explorer ($19.99)
The next app on our list is WiFi Scanner which adds a number of nifty features to the standard WiFi analysis tool.
Like the previous apps, it comes with various real-time and color co-ordinated graphs of the various available networks and provides details about them. But it doesn’t stop there as WiFi Scanner also brings a built-in WiFi speed testing feature that showcases the ping, download and upload speeds of your network to troubleshoot WiFi networks. There is also an extremely useful IP Scanner feature which will give you a list of all the devices that are connected to your network which is great for finding those WiFi “piggybackers”.
Personally to me, WiFi Scanner seems the most bang for your buck and with all its features it functions like an all-in-one from scanning available networks and their performances to seeing which devices are connected to my network.
Download WiFi Scanner ($19.99)
NetSpot offers the convenient visual heat maps so you can easily catch any dead spots and how you can optimize access points locations; it is a WiFi analyzer tool like no other!
The app allows you to directly upload a map of your area or draw one using NetSpot’s map drawing tool. Once you have completed that, you can select between several visualizations like signal level, noise level, and access points which show you everything throughout the whole map in the form of heat maps. You can then identify the areas with low signal strength or problems and troubleshoot them.
NetSpot feels like a well polished complete WiFi analyzer app. It does feel a little redundant for personal use but with its commercial licensing, it should work great for commercial use or large office areas to detect dead zones and improve the overall connectivity of the area.
Download NetSpot (Freemium)
WireShark is an open source and very powerful network analyzer used mainly by network admins and developers. Although it comes with a steep learning curve, it is one of the best packet analyzer apps available. WireShark is also capable of working in monitor mode, thereby letting you see what other devices are browsing/watching on your network. While normally you’d need an external WiFi adapter to these kinds of things, most Macs have a network card that supports monitor mode which overall works out pretty well.
JamWiFi is another free little tool which can not only analyze devices connected to your wireless network, but you can also disconnect them from using your WiFi. But it also comes with a downside which is it will also disconnect you and you have to reconnect again.
WiFi Signal Strength Explorer is a handy little utility which unlike the normal WiFi icon, shows you the strength of connection via dots/percent in the menu bar and by clicking it, you can access some basic details about your current network.
So these were the best WiFi analyzer applications available for macOS and here’s a little recap. For casual use or not too deep analysis, the Wireless Diagnostics seem to work just fine. If you need something quick that shows you details about your connected network just from your menubar, check out WiFi Signal. As a WiFi analyzing tool, WiFi Explorer has got everything you might need. However, if you are a sucker for extra features, WiFi Scanner provides the most for your money. For large organizations or commercial purposes, nothing comes close to NetSpot. Did we miss anything? Which one do you use? Let us know in the comments below.
Read: 10 Step by Step Fix to WiFi Connected But No Internet Access