Bug? Some Apple TVs Unable to Connect to Ad-Hoc Networks

The The MacCast’s Adam Christianson clued us in to a possible bug with second generation Apple TVs: It appears that ad-hoc networks created by a Mac cannot be seen or connected to on some Apple TVs. We did our own internal testing and arrived at inconclusive results with some Apple TVs functioning normally and others consistently unable to connect to the network. 

In addition to Mr. Christianson’s observation, other users are reporting the same problem over at the Apple Support Communities. For this article’s purposes, we’re using Apple TV 2 4.4.4 and OS X 10.7.2

For many years, Macs have been able to create ad-hoc networks for sharing an internet connection or connecting multiple computers in a pinch. To set up a network on your Mac, go to System Preferences > Sharing > Internet Sharing and configure your network’s options.

Ad-Hoc Network Creation OS X

In this case, I’m going to create a Wi-Fi Network called “iMac” with no security (this is just for testing purposes; in practice, always use proper security on your wireless networks). 

Once you’ve configured your network options, check the box next to “Internet Sharing” to turn the network on. If you’ve configured your network to use Wi-Fi, you’ll see the Airport icon in your menu bar change to indicate that it is being used to create a network.

OS X’s ad-hoc Wi-Fi network icon

Now, you’ll be able to see that Wi-Fi network and connect to it on other wireless devices. As you can see below, the network appears in the list of available options on my iPhone.

Ad-hoc Network Visibile on iPhone

Unfortunately, some Apple TVs cannot see these networks. We tested two different Apple TVs, all with the latest software (4.4.4) and one could see and connect to the network while the other could not. Attempts to enter the SSID manually on the stubborn Apple TV resulted in “network not found” errors.

Many users prefer to use these ad-hoc networks so that they can access their Mac’s content via the Apple TV without a router in between. Mr. Christianson and others report that this setup worked flawlessly in the past, so hopefully Apple is working hard on a solution.

Are you having the same problem? If so, let us know in the comments.