Fix “Wi-Fi: No Hardware Installed” Error on Mac OS X
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
- Reboot the Mac and immediately hold down Command + Option + P + R keys together
- 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.
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:
- Shut down the Mac
- Connect the MacBook to the MagSafe power cable and an outlet so it is charging
- Hold Shift + Control + Option + Power buttons concurrently for about five seconds, then release all keys together
- 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:
- Shut down the MacBook and take out the battery
- Disconnect the power cable, then hold the Power button for about 5 seconds, then release the button
- 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
- Shut down the Mac and disconnect it’s power cable
- Press and hold down on the Mac power button for about 5 seconds
- 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.
Did this work to get your wi-fi working again? Let us know your experience in the comments.