Tether your laptop to your iPhone with no additional carrier charges

Ever been stuck lacking internet on your laptop but still had your iPhone or iPad? It can be a huge drag; I just moved and made the critical mistake of assuming that there was internet already installed and I'd just need to call them up and have them flip it on. It shouldn't have been too much of a gamble as our town has near 100% coverage of FTTH (Fiber To The Home.) Nevertheless, I picked a house with no internet, and it will be a week or so until it can be installed.

I have 3G on my phone, and could theoretically use my carriers "My Personal Hotspot" feature, but then I'd have to pay another $20 per month. Instead, I can do it without setting up a carrier plan, for a small fraction of the price ($15 for the first year, then $30/year) with Tether.

Some people had issues with Tether shortly after they (re)launched, but it seems to have been resolved with the latest update. It was a relatively painless configuration with my iPhone 4S and Macbook Pro running Snow Leopard. The iPhone / Mac installation instructions are here.

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There are a few caveats I've listed below.


  • No jailbreaking required
  • No additional plan from carrier
  • Easy enough setup
  • $15 for the first year, then $30 / year after (much cheaper than carrier)


  • No free trial
  • You can't lock your phone after getting the connection
  • You have to leave the Tether webpage open and active on your phone (no browsing on laptop and phone at the same time!)
  • Occasionally you have to play around with it before getting a connection (troubleshooting tips below)
  • Not in the App store (this is because Apple wants you to use your carrier's version)


Basic instructions (they go into more detail here)

  1. Order / create an account on Tether.com
  2. Install the app for your Mac or Windows laptop (from Tether.com)
  3. Open the app on your laptop (this will create the ad-hoc network)
  4. Set your iOS device's wifi network to the ad-hoc network that was just created
  5. Visit tether.com/web on your iOS device and log in. Once you've got two greens you are good to go!

Troubleshooting tips:

  1. Make sure your iPhone / iPad has the ad-hoc network selected for wifi after creating it with the Tether app on your laptop
  2. Refresh tether.com/web on your iOS device after waiting 30 seconds to a minute of it trying to connect
  3. Repeat steps 3-5 of my basic instructions above


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Raphael Burnes is the CTO of iPhone Life magazine.