2 Hidden Tricks Reveal Network Info in Apple’s AirPort Utility 6

| TMO Quick Tip

Apple's Airport Utility 6 can appear deceptively simple and simple-minded. However, with a few hidden mouse operations, a lot of network information can be revealed quickly and easily. Here are some tricks we've learned at The Mac Observer.


First, the natural thing to do is to single-click the AirPort base station. If you do, you'll see something like this.

Image #1. Single click on base station icon.

You may, at first, think that the next thing to do is to click the Edit button. But not so fast. Some useful information can be displayed if you hover the mouse cursor over each of the wireless client names. If you do, you'll see something like that shown below. The IP address, Hardware address, and some performance information about the connection will be revealed.

Image #2. Hovering mouse cursor over wrieless client

So far, so good. Now you can go ahead and click the Edit button, and you'll see the familiar configuration tabs: Base Station, Internet, Wireless, and so on.

Image #3

But here's a nice trick, and it's a product of Macintosh Rule #4: Always See What Happens When You Try: Option + click (or Option + double-click). [I made that rule up, but it's true.*]

In this case, if you Option + click the base station, nothing happens. However, if you Option + double-click the base station, you'll take an instant shortcut to all the data you saw before, but in a floating window.

Image #4. Option + double-click brings up a new Summary tab.

A new Summary tab on the upper left has all of the the information you had in Image #2 above and more. Plus it's easier to take a compact screen shot. Compare that to the standard window if you had merely clicked the Edit button. (Image #3.)

Instead of hovering over a device name, now you have disclosure triangles that show the same information about each wireless client: Connection, Data rate, IP address and so on.

Image #5. Closeup of Wireless Clients window.

That there are two different ways to reveal all this information is interesting. That the second way is mildly hidden for those who don't think to Option + double-click is also interesting.

One More Thing

With the Airport Utility, it's all too easy to focus on the devices that appear in the home window. For example, you can also click or Option + double-click the Internet globe. But don't forget that this app also has formal Preferences that may be of interest. Don't overlook those.

AirPort Utility 6 isn't the most comprehensive Wi-Fi management tool that Apple could have built. There are still some features missing compared to version 5.6, but it's also being slowly refined and improved. That's nice to see.


* Thanks to TMO's Adam Christianson for discovering the Option + double-click trick.

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Gary LearnTech

In spite of using Timed Access Control to authorise access via MAC addresses – and listing each device therein (for example, “Gary’s iPhone 5s”) – all I ever get listed under the attached wireless clients is a series of MAC address and, at the moment, one IP address. No meaningful names.

It’s got the name associated with each MAC address, so why not display them? It’s always been this way for me.  Frustrating.

John Martellaro

Gary: We’re looking into that. So far, it seems to me that after AirPort Utility has been launched, it takes awhile to convert MAC or IP address to the names found in Settings > About > Name (plus the .local suffix). But we’ve not yet discovered the full details.

Gary LearnTech

Hi John - I fired up AirPort Utility when I came in earlier and let it sit there, contemplating all its data.  That’s probably at least 45 minutes ago now and it still hasn’t resolved any names.  While it’s still displaying four devices, last night there were three MAC and one IP address, tonight it’s two MAC and two IP addresses.  (The currently ‘active’ wireless devices are a Kindle Fire HD, iPhone 5s, Apple TV (3rd gen?) and iPad 3rd gen - same as last night.)

My suspicion is that the bigger picture of a network could be significant.  My 4th generation TimeCapsule (from about a year back) handles all my local traffic – both wireless and wired.  However, it’s connected to the outer world via my Netgear router/firewall/ADSLmodem.  It’s configured to connect to the Netgear box using DHCP and, under the Network tab has Router Mode set to “Off (Bridge Mode)”.  I wonder if setting the Router Mode to one of the two other settings, along with the necessary Netgear changes, might produce the desired results?  Unfortunately, life’s too short and that’s too big a set of messing about just on the off-chance.

NB One change I made last night was to update the Timed Access Control settings so that the registered MAC addresses were all in upper case (to match the way the app displays them) but that made no difference.

I’d be interested to hear if you come up with anything – but I can live with it as it stands.  It’s just – irritating…  grin

Robert Rush

I have a different issue. I have 2 airport expresses. One I use downstairs as an extended network. The other I have in my bedroom. It’s just being used as a bridge. It not connected to the internet. I just have an amplifier connected to it so I can stream music from my iOS devices. However, It’s not being detected on any device or the airport utility.

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