Setting Up a Guest Wi-fi Network

You can easily set up a guest wi-fi network with an Apple base station. Using a guest network allows you to share you connection with guests to your house without endangering your main network with all of your devices. It appears as it you have two separate wi-fi base stations instead of one. You can change the guest network password frequently without needing to re-enter the password for your own devices that are connected to your main network.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. On this episode let me show you how to setup a guest Wi-fi network and why you should do that.

So, on AirPort base stations like Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme and on many other wi-fi base stations you have the ability to setup a quest network. This appears to be a separate base station from your main one. So you might see your wi-fi network and then also this second guest network.

Now you should always set one of these up. Why? Because whenever you have guests come over the house and they want to access your wi-fi maybe with their iPhone or Android phone or laptop or whatever it is great to be able to freely give out the password to the guest network and not worry about them being on the same network as all of your other devices and computers and things in your house. Also, you won't be giving out a password that you may not want to change that often. Instead you're giving out this password to a guest network that is separate and you can easily change without having to reset the password on all of the different devices in your house.

So to setup a guest network using an Apple air port device like Time Capsule or AirPort Extreme or something you would use AirPort Utility on your Mac. Then you would select your AirPort device. From this information screen you would hit Edit and then go into the Wireless section.

You would then simply enable the guest network. Give it a name. You want to setup security on it. You don't want to leave it with no security because that means everything is unencrypted. You want to treat your guests a little better than that. So you set it up for WPA2 Personal and you assign a password and verify the password.

Of course you can make the password something relatively easy to be able to tell them at least to write down. Try to include some letters and numbers in there to make it more secure but you may not want to make it completely random like your regular network password would be that you setup on your computers because you will be having guests entering these all the time. But at least having a password makes sure that the data is encrypted going back and forth between your base station and their devices.

Then, of course, keep in mind you may want to change this password from time to time depending upon how you're using your guest network.

Then hit Update and after a reboot your air port base station now would appear to have two networks. Your main one and this special network with this name here. For all intents and purposes it seems like it's a completely separate device and devices don't see each other across these networks and people with one password won't be able to get into the other one.

Now I would recommend setting this up now even if you don't have any plans in the immediate future to have guests use your wi-fi. Why? Because when the situation comes up you don't want to have to go and fiddle around with setting things up. You want to have it all ready setup, already know the password and have it written down, and then when somebody asks if they can access your wi-fi with their iPhone you say, Sure, here's the password.

Now if you're not using an Apple base station you may still be able to set one up. You're going to have to consult the documentation from your wi-fi router to see if it has this functionality and how to create a guest network. A lot of major brand third party wi-fi routers will have this. However if you are using wi-fi that comes with the box that you get from say your telephone company or your cable modem then they might be a little more basic any may not have this functionality.

Comments: 22 Responses to “Setting Up a Guest Wi-fi Network”

    Bill Taylor
    6/23/16 @ 8:07 am

    I have the AirPort utility window up, but it says “No configured AirPort base stations have been found”. I really need to set this up if possible. I am using wi fi all the time and I have a guest using it too. My router is from Century Link. So am I able to set this up or not. I have an iMac early 2008 with El Capitan.

    6/23/16 @ 8:10 am

    Bill: So you don’t have an Airport base station? This tutorial is for using Apple “Airport” base stations. If you don’t have one then your options are: get one, or see if the base station you do have (I assume your router is being used as a wifi base station) has its own function for a guest network. You’ll need to consult its documentation for that.

    Don
    6/23/16 @ 9:15 am

    Hi Gary….

    I have my Airport Extreme set up with two networks and it works fine. During the summertime, I need an signal extender for our porch area, and use an inexpensive Belkin unit that plugs into a wall outlet. My question is whether it is necessary to use the same password on the extender as I do on the network it connects with.

    Tx, Don

    6/23/16 @ 9:17 am

    Don: I have no idea as I don’t know that device. But a true network extension shouldn’t have any password on its own — it extends the network, not creates another one. If you set the Belkin up as a separate network then I suppose you could do it either way, but this wouldn’t be a true extension and you’d need to switch networks on your devices to use the Belkin and then back to the AE after.

    Johan
    6/23/16 @ 9:52 am

    Hi Gary
    I have an iMac running Yosemite and a Time Machine base station.
    If I click Wireless in Airport Utility as per your tutorial, their is no option to set up a Guest Network. I only have details of my wireless network but no option to set up a guest network.

    6/23/16 @ 9:57 am

    Johan: Which model of Time Capsule do you have, and which version of Airport Utility are you using? Perhaps one or both are too old?

    Johan
    6/23/16 @ 10:14 am

    I have Airport Utility ver 6.3.5 and a 500 Gb Time Capsule model nr. A1254

    6/23/16 @ 10:17 am

    Johan: The A1254, according to Wikipedia, is the old first generation Time Capsule from way back in 2008. It probably doesn’t support some features, like Guest Network.

    Nick
    6/24/16 @ 1:58 pm

    Hi Gary, great newsletter videos. Is there an easy way to simply change my existing Guest network name without going thru a lot of hoops? The password will remain the same. Oh, I have an Airport Extreme router and I am using EL Capitan.

    6/24/16 @ 1:59 pm

    Nick: Not sure what you define as “a lot of hoops.” Seems pretty straight-forward to go into Airport Utility and simply edit the name.

    Nick
    6/24/16 @ 2:16 pm

    Gary, airport utility only brings up the current main network name with no options to connect to the Guest. I guess I have to sign into the Guest first then change the name.

    6/24/16 @ 2:19 pm

    Nick: I’ve lost you here. Do you have a guest network set up, like I show in the video? If so, it is easy to set the name. Not sure what you mean by “sign into” — you don’t need to connect to the guest network, if that is what you mean. Just connect to the main wifi as you would normally, and use Airport Utility to change the name of the guest network that you set up before.

    Ravi H
    6/26/16 @ 12:53 am

    Hello Gary, in this video podcast on Guest Network, your video shows a checkbox to setup a guest network in the Wireless tab. However, when I tried to follow the same steps, I don’t see that option/checkbox. I’m on El Capitan, MacBook Pro. I think this is similar to what Nick has posted i.e. only see the main network, but no option to setup Guest account.

    6/26/16 @ 6:43 am

    Ravi: Perhaps you have a model of Airport base station that is too old to support it?

    Karen J
    6/26/16 @ 8:35 am

    Thanks. Great advice and easy to do. Wish I had done this a long time ago.

    Ronald T
    6/29/16 @ 6:48 am

    Gary, I have an AE configured as a bridge with my FIOS router. When I setup the AE with a guest network it won’t join the network. I get a message that the “wifi has a self-assigned IP address (169.254.40.185) and won’t be able to connect to the internet”. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    6/29/16 @ 7:19 am

    Ronald: Hard to say without being there to look. Just check and recheck everything including the FIOS router settings. If you can’t figure it out, you may need to get firsthand help to set it up correctly.

    pws442
    8/13/16 @ 12:51 am

    Trying to set up the Guest Network from my 3TB Airport Time Capsule. Problem is that my network is on 192.168.1.x, and the Guest network shows up on my iPhone 6P as 169.254.44.x, and it will not connect. My ATPC connects to a Uverse gateway, also on 192.168.1.x, as are all my various computers and A/V equipment. How do I tell it to use the 192 network (all use DHCP)

    8/13/16 @ 6:02 am

    Pws442: it sounds like you are not connecting to the guest network at a all. The IP address isn’t what you need to worry about. You need to tell these decides to connect to the guest network using the NAME of the network p. Sounds like you are not doing that and it sounds like you may have other issues with this “Uverse gateway.” If you can’t figure it out you may need to get someone over there to do it for you.

    pws442
    8/17/16 @ 2:48 am

    Well, I see the NAME of the Guest Network on my iPhone and on my MacBook Pro, but, since it is on the WRONG network, it does not connect. As I said, everything I have is on the 192 network, including the Guest network on “this Uverse Gateway”, which is connected to the outside world, and is the one that I use for my guests.

    8/17/16 @ 5:25 am

    Pws442: Sounds like you have something (or several things) misconfigured if your Gues Network is not working. Impossible for me to say what could be wrong from here.

    pws442
    8/17/16 @ 12:37 pm

    Quite the contrary, everything except the Guest Network on the APTC functions quite well. Oh well, I just use the Uverse Guest Network when required. All I want to do is change the IP address to the range I use.

Comments Closed.