Fix “Wi-Fi: No Hardware Installed” Error on Mac OS X

Jul 11, 2016 - 33 Comments

Fix wi-fi no hardware installed error on Mac

Some Mac users may encounter a stranger wi-fi issue where the wireless menu icon has an “X” in it, and the wi-fi dropdown menu says “Wi-Fi: No Hardware Installed”. Since we’re all dependent on wireless networking these days, having no functioning wi-fi connection can be very frustrating, but fortunately this is usually a really simple fix.


Typically if you experience this problem, you’ll see the ‘Wi-Fi: No hardware installed’ message after waking a Mac from sleep, rebooting the Mac, or sometimes after installing a system software update. It can happen on any MacBook, MacBook Pro, Air, iMac, Mac Mini, Mac Pro, and virtually any other hardware, though MacBook users are usually the first to notice it given the propensity for wireless networking usage with Mac laptops.

The 2 Step Solution: NVRAM & SMC Resetting

The trick to resolving the wi-fi hardware not installed error is usually two parts; you’ll reset the SMC and reset the NVRAM as well on whatever Mac that is displaying the problem message in the wireless menu. This two-part troubleshooting method works on every Mac and every version of Mac OS X, so it doesn’t matter which model or OS version you are experiencing trouble with.

Since resetting SMC is slightly different on each Mac, first we’ll cover resetting the NVRAM which is the same on every Mac model.

NVRAM: For all Mac models with Wi-Fi No Hardware Installed Error

  1. Reboot the Mac and immediately hold down Command + Option + P + R keys together
  2. Continue holding all Command+Option+P+R keys until you hear the Mac reboot sound again, then release all keys concurrently

When the Mac boots back up, pulldown the wi-fi menu again. Is it working? Is the wi-fi menu no longer showing the “X” and “No hardware installed” error message? Is it looking for networks? Then you’re good to go.

Wi-Fi looking for networks means it is working again

If you still have problems and still see that error message, you’ll want to continue on with resetting the SMC which we’ll cover next.

SMC: For newer MacBook, MacBook Pro models with internal batteries

If you have any newer model MacBook with a non-removable battery (basically anything post-2010 model year), this is how you reset the SMC:

  1. Shut down the Mac
  2. Connect the MacBook to the MagSafe power cable and an outlet so it is charging
  3. Hold Shift + Control + Option + Power buttons concurrently for about five seconds, then release all keys together
  4. Boot up the Mac as usual

When the Mac boots up you should no longer see the “X” in the wi-fi icon and wi-fi should work as usual on the Mac.

SMC: For older MacBook models with removable batteries

If you can take out the battery on the MacBook yourself, then resetting SMC is a bit different:

  1. Shut down the MacBook and take out the battery
  2. Disconnect the power cable, then hold the Power button for about 5 seconds, then release the button
  3. Connect the battery again and boot up as usual

If the wi-fi works, join wifi as usual and you’re good to go.

SMC: For iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini

  1. Shut down the Mac and disconnect it’s power cable
  2. Press and hold down on the Mac power button for about 5 seconds
  3. Release the power button, re-attach the power cable, and boot the Mac as usual

Wi-fi working now? Great!

Still seeing the “Wi-Fi: no hardware installed” error on the Mac?

If you reset the Mac NVRAM and SMC and you still encounter the “Wi-Fi: no hardware installed” message in the dropdown menu in Mac OS X, you may have a physical hardware problem with the computer in question. Usually this means the network card has failed, has become disconnected, doesn’t exist (as in, it was manually removed), it’s a third party external wi-fi NIC model that needs different drivers, or perhaps even the Mac had liquid contact and has suffered some form of damage. In any event, if it can’t be resolved with the methods outlined above and it’s not a software wi-fi issue, you’ll likely want to make a trip to the Apple genius bar or official call center.

Wifi no hardware installed error on Mac OS X

Did this work to get your wi-fi working again? Let us know your experience in the comments.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

33 Comments

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  1. Tom says:

    I had a similar issue on a i5 2011 Mac mini running El Capitan. SMC and NVRAM resets did not help. I even dismantled the whole thing to see if the Airport card is connected properly. Nothing.

    And then, there was a OSX software update and voila. Came back to life just like that.

    I suspect I messed up my system with using Continuity Activation Tool

    It seems that running any available combo update could also theoretically help, so maybe it’s a good idea to try this insead of waiting for another OSX update or reinstalling the whole system.

    • Bagel Too says:

      I’ve had the ‘no wifi’ problem appear after installing a software update on Mac, reset SMC fixed it.

      I’m getting more and more problems with Mac these days, and many with iPhone too.

  2. Wharf Xanadu says:

    Had this once before. It fixed it.

  3. junebeetle says:

    I’ve had this problem before on my 2010 MacBook. One time, a simple reboot fixed it. The other time the permissions on some kexts had gotten messed up and it couldn’t find the hardware until I did a permissions repair in Disk Utility.

  4. Darren says:

    Had problem with the no hardware for wifi. Airport Extreme card Mac Desktop Pro
    The SMC reset fixed it!!!
    So happy to get advice that actually worked😃

  5. Ken says:

    Tried all of that. Still not working. Strangely, it works in safemode.

  6. Jim says:

    Had the same problem with my 2009 mac pro, the SMC reset fix it. Hope Apple patches this soon.

  7. OB Wan says:

    Great tip – fixed the wi-fi issue in 5 min.
    THANKS!

  8. Rachel says:

    None of that work it actually deleted and WiFi of WiFi diagnostics selections off my macbook

  9. Nikos says:

    Tried the NVRAM and it fixed it..!! Gongrats & many thanks!!!

  10. JOsh says:

    This hasnt helped at all still same problem

  11. Laura says:

    Tried the SMC and NVRAM on my early 2015 Mac book air and still doesn’t work. Oh man, I think I’m dying.

  12. michael says:

    My MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015) has this problem. I used the shift, contorl, option and power thing and it works fine… but the problem happens on and off, sometime while im working and suddenly it stops and i have to do this processs.

    What is the solution?

    • stephanie says:

      same exact model and problem, and the fix mentioned only helps temporarily. I have stopped relying on my MacBook to actually do work. One work around, if I really need to use it, is that I plug my iPhone into it and use the USB connection to tether the internet to the MacBook (I think that is the right terminology). You have to do it before the wifi actually disappears or it will never recognize the USB connection. Hard to believe my MacBook is almost useless.

  13. Jay says:

    Neither worked for me. I left PC for this nonsense!? Not happy with Apple these days.

  14. alai says:

    lifesaving tips! Fixed it in like 60 secs! Thank you!!!!

  15. Jordan says:

    NVRAM restart worked for me first try! Thanks.

  16. Alexej says:

    Hi guys, none of these things worked for me.

    At the beginning I had the “No hardware” message, then I reinstalled the mac (shifting from Yosemite to Sierra) and the problem persists. So I bought a wifi USB dongle (Sitecom AC450) and it still doesn’t work (apparently it’s not fit for Sierra, but that’s just one comment in one forum). It sometimes works when I just re-start my computer but sometimes it just crushes down again and I fall again in deep depressing despair…

    Anyone any help? Would be life saving!

  17. Kelcro says:

    Wifi no hardware error on my MacBook pro early 2011. Tried all the resets and nothing worked. Finally repaired permissions from disk utility and rebooted and it worked.

  18. Alex says:

    I had the same issue, and I ended up resolving it by:
    1: Installing all the software updates
    2: Safe reboot (Go into system preferences –> start up disk) and Safe (hold shift)
    3: A normal restart, this fixed everything.
    Hope my comment helped!

  19. Raz says:

    Worked with the NVRAM! You guys are the best ♥️ Thought I’d have to go and get a new Mac!

    Thank you!

  20. Rajiv says:

    Worked like a charm . Thank you for the great tip.

  21. Chloe says:

    My MacBook Pro does this all the time and I’ve tried everything off this website to fix it and it normally works but it’s not this time and it’s been like that for 4 days I need my laptop with internet badly but nothing is working! How do I fix it??

  22. Christine Renee says:

    Had the same issue with no wifi hardware found and no solutions worked except the very last one I tried. Unplug the Power cord from the back of the tower, hold power button for 10-15 seconds, reboot and it should be ok! Good luck

  23. nandita says:

    worked like a miracle on the iMac, thank you!

  24. EJ says:

    Great tip, forgot all about that from my powerbook days. It started up when I upgraded my RAM to 8Gb on my 21.5″ iMac 2009.

    So far so good.

  25. Drew says:

    How can u do a software update without internet connection? Do I need an Ethernet cable? It says I can’t connect to App Store.

  26. Nganya says:

    Thank you much sir SMC worked for me my Mac Pro is of late 2008 with removable battery. My hat to you

  27. Nyeron says:

    Shift control option power worked like a charm! Thank you!

  28. Remittance Girl says:

    None of these fixes worked for me, but deleting my NetworkInterfaces.plist file did.

    1) click on the finder
    2) click on ‘Go’ (top menu) -> ‘Go to Folder…’
    3) copy and paste this into the field (minus the quotations) ” /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration ”
    4) find and trash NetworkInterfaces.plist
    5) reboot

  29. Ken says:

    These fixes worked then they didn’t. Permanent fix for me was to get an $8 Edimax USB WiFi adapter. 2.4 GHz only, but better than nothing. Others are available for more.

    Interesting thing is that built-in WiFi continues to come back sporadically. It will work for a few days, then stop.

  30. DA says:

    I’ve been trying them several times but it didn’t work. Anyone pls help me!! It’s been a week and i need internet for my work :(

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