How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems

Nov 23, 2020 - 23 Comments

How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems

Are you having trouble connecting to Wi-Fi networks on your Mac after updating it to macOS Big Sur recently? Although connecting to Wi-Fi networks on a Mac is a fairly straightforward procedure for the most part, some users have reported issues with getting the internet to work over Wi-Fi after installing macOS Big Sur.

The most commonly reported macOS Big Sur-related Wi-Fi issues are that the connection drops frequently, won’t reliably connect to wi-fi, or the overall network performance is lacking. This could be due to several reasons ranging from Wi-Fi router issues, to software-related problems that you may be facing on your Mac after the update. Sometimes, improper DNS settings could also prevent you from accessing the internet.

If you’re one of those unlucky users who’re affected by this issue, you’ve come to the right place, run through the steps provided to troubleshoot and resolve Wi-Fi issues in macOS Big Sur.

Troubleshooting macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems

Regardless of whether you own a MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, iMac, or Mac Pro, you can follow these basic troubleshooting methods whenever you’re facing any connectivity-related issues on your macOS Big Sur machine. Before you go ahead with the following procedure, make sure to back up your Mac using Time Machine so that you don’t lose your settings and configuration files in case something goes wrong.

Some of the steps we’re about to discuss are simple, whereas the others require slightly more complicated tasks such as setting up a new network profile, moving system files, using custom network configurations, amongst other techniques that may be necessary to fix wireless connectivity.

1. Check for Any Software Updates & Restart Your Mac

Sometimes, buggy software can result in Wi-Fi connectivity issues on a Mac. Apple is usually quick to release a hotfix and address OS-related issues that have been reported by users. So, it’s always good to check for any available software updates from time to time.

You can check if your Mac is running the latest version of macOS by going to System Preferences -> Software Update. If there’s a new macOS update available, choose to download and install it.

How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems

2: Reboot the Mac

Whether you have a new update or not, restart your Mac and see if it resolves the Wi-Fi issue you’re facing. You may find this silly, but most minor software-related bugs and glitches can be resolved by simply rebooting your device. There’s more than one way to reboot your Mac. You can click on the Apple logo from the menu bar and choose “Restart” from the dropdown menu. Or, you can hold the power button on your Mac to bring up the shutdown menu where you’ll find the option to restart your device as well.

3. Disconnect All USB Devices from the Mac

If you have any device connected to your Mac’s USB port like external storage devices, USB hubs, dongles, etc. unplug it and see if that fixes the issue. This step is recommended because – although somewhat rare – there’s always a possibility that your Wi-Fi connectivity issues are due to hardware interference with certain connected devices that emit radio frequency.

After disconnection, if you notice that your Wi-Fi connection is working fine, then you know it’s likely hardware interference from one of the USB devices. In such cases, you can try moving the USB device further away from your Mac to minimize interference, provided the cable is long enough. Also, if you’re connected to a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network, try switching to a 5 GHz network as it may have less interference than the lower frequency band.

4. Create A New Wi-Fi Configuration in macOS Big Sur

This might be a slightly more complicated method compared to the others, but all we’re going to do is remove existing configuration files to make new ones which usually fixes wireless network issues. So, follow the steps below carefully to avoid any confusion.

  • Temporarily disable Wi-Fi on your Mac by clicking on the Control Center icon in the menu bar at the top-right corner of your screen.
  • Next, open Finder and head over to an easily accessible location. Make a new folder here and use a suitable name. Once you’re done, click on “Go” from the menu bar and choose “Go to Folder” from the dropdown menu to proceed.

    How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems
  • This should bring up a tiny window on your screen where you’ll be able to enter the path. Copy/Paste the following path and click on “Go”.

    /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/

  • Next, find and select the following files in the SystemConfiguration folder.
    “NetworkInterfaces.plist”
    “com.apple.wifi.message-tracer.plist”
    “com.apple.airport.preferences.plist”
    “preferences.plist”
  • Once all these files are selected, move them to the new folder you created. Now, restart your Mac and then re-enable Wi-Fi from the macOS Control Center.

Try opening Safari and see if you’re able to browse the web without any issues. Wireless connectivity should be working fine by now. If this method didn’t help in your instance, you’ll have to proceed to the next troubleshooting step.

5. Create A New Network Location With Custom Settings

This might be the hardest troubleshooting step for most users. Here, we’ll be creating a new network location in macOS Big Sur using custom configuration settings for DNS and MTU as they can sometimes hinder internet connectivity. Let’s take a look at the necessary steps.

  • Head over to “System Preferences” on your Mac from the Dock and click on “Network” to get started. Here, make sure “Wi-Fi” is selected on the left pane and pull down the Location setting. Click on “Edit Locations” from the dropdown menu.

    How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems
  • Next, click on the “+” icon to manually create a new network location, and give it a suitable name like “Big Sur Wi-Fi” then click on “Done”.

    How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems
  • Now, go back to the Network Preferences panel and click on “Advanced” as shown in the screenshot below.

    How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems
  • Here, head over to the TCP/IP tab and click on “Renew DHCP Lease”.

    How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems
  • Once you’re done, switch to the DNS tab and click on the “+” icon below the DNS Servers area. Now, manually enter 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 as the IP addresses for DNS servers as indicated below.

    How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems
  • Next, switch to the “Hardware” tab and change the “MTU” setting to “Custom”. Now, type in “1492” as the value for MTU and click “OK”.

    How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems

Now, when you try to exit the Network Preferences panel, you’ll be prompted to Apply all the changes you’ve made. Choose “Apply” and reconnect to your Wi-Fi network to see if the issue has been resolved.

This is arguably one of the most effective methods of resolving software-based wi-fi issues on the Mac, so give it a try.

6. Reset the NVRAM on your Mac

For those who aren’t aware, NVRAM or Non-Volatile Random Access Memory is a small amount of memory utilized by your Mac to store certain settings for quick access. Resetting your Mac’s NVRAM is typically considered an effective troubleshooting method when your system is misbehaving.

 

Resetting the NVRAM is a lot easier than you think. First, shut down the Mac and immediately after you turn it back on, simply press and hold Option + Command + P + R on your keyboard for about 20 seconds. This will reset both the NVRAM and PRAM. You can confirm this when the Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time while booting up.

How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems

7. Reset the SMC of your Mac

Resetting your Mac’s System Management Controller (SMC) can sometimes resolve issues related to Wi-Fi, power, batter, and other features. It may be necessary to restore normal lower-level system functionality to your Mac especially when you’re facing hardware-related problems.

The steps to reset your Mac’s SMC may vary depending on the model you own. To reset the SMC on MacBooks with Apple’s T2 Security Chip, press and hold Control + Option + Shift on your keyboard for 7 seconds and then press and hold the power button as well. If your Mac is on, it will turn off as you hold the keys, but keep pressing all four keys together for another 7 seconds and then release them. Wait for a few seconds before you power on your Mac again.

How to Fix macOS Big Sur Wi-Fi Problems

On the other hand, if you have an older MacBook without the T2 chip, press and hold Control + Option + Shift keys while also pressing the power button for about 10 seconds to reset the SMC.

The procedure is a lot easier on Mac Desktops with or without the T2 chip. Simply shut down your Mac and unplug the power cord. Now, wait 15 seconds and plug the power cord back in. Wait for at least 5 seconds before you turn on your Mac again.

8. Reset the Wi-Fi Router / Modem

If you’re still facing problems, it’s possible that the issue is with your Wi-Fi router or modem and not the Mac itself. Hardware or firmware-related issues with your Wi-Fi router could prevent you from accessing internet over the wireless network. However, you can try resetting your Wi-Fi router to see if it fixes the issue.

Typically, you can do this by pressing the router’s power button for a few seconds and then restarting it, but the exact process of resetting routers and modems can vary per manufacturer. Hence, it’s not realistically possible to cover all the various methods here. For a more normalized procedure, you can unplug the router or modem for about 20 seconds and then plug it back in again.

9. Try a Different Wi-Fi Network, or Personal Hotspot

Another option is to try a different wi-fi network entirely, or use Personal Hotspot from an iPhone or cellular iPad. If the Mac works with a different network, or with a personal hotspot, it’s certainly an indicator the issue is with the other wi-fi router, network, or provider, and you’d want to focus troubleshooting efforts on that side of things rather than the Mac.

You can also try using the same wi-fi network with a different device, like another Mac, a PC, iPhone, iPad, Android device, or something else – if those devices are working with the wi-fi network it suggests something is going on with the Mac, whereas if those devices also are not connecting to the internet successfully, it points to an issue with a particular wi-fi network or ISP.

Hopefully by now you have resolved any Wi-Fi connectivity issue you were facing on your Mac with macOS Big Sur.

If none of the above troubleshooting methods worked in your favor, you might want to contact your internet service provider (ISP) to check for any issues on their end. Server-side issues can also prevent you from accessing the internet over Wi-Fi. One of the best ways to check if it’s actually a Wi-Fi specific issue is by using an ethernet cable and establishing a wired connection with any of your other devices.

Do you use an iPhone or iPad as your primary mobile device? In that case, you may also be interested in taking a look at some of the basic troubleshooting steps you can follow whenever you’re facing Wi-Fi connectivity issues on iPhone and iPad devices.

We hope you were successful in getting your Wi-Fi connection to work properly on your Mac again. Which of the troubleshooting methods that we discussed here worked for you? Did you have another solution for Big Sur related Wi-Fi issues? Share your experiences, thoughts, and opinions in the comments below!

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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

23 Comments

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  1. Howard says:

    Let me know how does the downgrade work for you!

  2. Howard T says:

    Exactly Geoff. This is getting ridiculous on my end. I now have to reboot my laptop every time I try to resume my work from an earlier session which requires a lot of time as I have to save, close, then open numerous files . This is now reminding me of Windows Vista which was a complete flop. This Big Sur upgrade has left a sour taste in my mouth and I can sadly claim that my deep trust in everything Apple does has been extremely shaken in its foundation.

  3. Geoff says:

    I tried all the steps to the end but still no joy. I think the problem is in the mac / big sur because my phone works well on wifi in the house at the same location. I’m considering downgrading to an earlier mac operating system.

  4. Geoff says:

    I tried this up until setting up a new wi-fi location – step 5 and it seems to have worked! Thanks very much.

  5. James Haire says:

    I followed your steps to get my WiFi to work with Big Sur and a new router. Thanks for your help.

  6. Patrick says:

    Solution 4 worked for me, but once the items moved to the new folder, I deleted the 4 files in /SystemConfiguration

  7. Anico says:

    I had no wifi after updating to Big Sur but the step 5 of this article did the trick! Thank you soooo much!!!!

  8. Mike says:

    Thank you……did I say Thank you….😊.

  9. Troy says:

    Thank you! Your suggestion 4 worked for me. Greatly appreciated.

  10. marcin says:

    Got all the way to the NVRAM and PRAM reset solution, until I got connectivity back. My WiFi was connected, but no internet. Until i did that reset. I wasted 1/2 day messing with WiFi settings before I found this guide. Big ups to Hamlin!

  11. Lee Beddington-March says:

    Running MacBook Pro Retina early 2015. Internet constantly dropping out since Big Sur installed. Deleted Norton 360 AntiVirus, having read that Mac doesn’t really need any extra protection, and now I am having no more connection problems.

  12. Jake says:

    Haven’t had any issues with Wifi before Big Sur.
    None of the above fixes weren’t helpful.

    Also the performance after Big Sur slowed down significantly.

    Great update!

  13. G says:

    Thank you for this!

  14. David Sullivan says:

    I installed Big Sur and have fixed one issue, only to have so many more issues.
    Constant problems with applications giving me the beach ball of death and never recovering. I have rebooted more from the time I upgraded about a week ago, more so then using Windows and the way it updates, with constant reboots.

    Rebooting on its own is a new thing. Come back from lunch and my iMac 2019 40GB machine has crashed and rebooted.

    I would not advise anyone to upgrade to Big Sur, yet.

  15. lvnte says:

    I have a 2020macbook pro, and wifi frequently disconnected after upgrading to big sur. it couldn’t reconnect, and I had to restart the whole system to make it connect to my network.

    The only step that worked listed above was to completely reset my router, and give it a new name/login credentials.
    After I did that, I didn’t experience disconnects.

    (I doubt that it was the routers fault, as all the other devices in the house connected just fine when the MacBook dropped the connection.)

  16. BrooklynBob says:

    This WIFI problem has been an issue with every OSX/macOS release.

  17. Robert Ford says:

    Step 4 seems to have done the trick for me. Thanks!!

  18. Daniel says:

    The easiest way to get the wi-fi working is to use the Mojave-Big Sur hybrid wi-fi driver.

    https://github.com/barrykn/big-sur-micropatcher

    the patcher can be found here, and detailed installation instructions are at the bottom of the page.

  19. JohnIL says:

    I upgraded to Big Sur on my 2019 Mac mini from Catalina. It seemed to upgrade just fine, but I just did not like Big Sur and went back to Catalina. I was looking forward to moving past Catalina, but Big Sur isn’t it.

  20. Ron Brink says:

    I have an older Mac (2012) that supposedly Big Sur was not suppose to run in. There are multiple sites that get around this limitation. I successfully installed EXCEPT WiFi won’t connect when I try to enable it. any ideas? I found one site that said the driver might need an upgrade but I have no idea where to get “it” or how to update it.
    Thanks

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