How to USB tether an Android phone with a Mac OS X computer

The process of tethering allows you to connect your computer to the internet via your phone's 3G mobile connection. This is a life saver if you are working in a location where you don't have access to other internet connections. Broadly speaking, there are two methods of tethering: plugging the phone directly into your computer via USB, or setting up the phone as a mini Wi-Fi hotspot. I prefer to plug in directly because Wi-Fi uses up battery power on the phone (and the laptop if unplugged) very quickly. Unfortunately, I have an Android phone and a Mac computer. The official Android website says that you can use a USB cable for tethering with computers running Windows or Linux but not with Mac OS X. Nevertheless I have found a way to do it with OS X, read on for more information. Screenshot: working in menu bar Warning: Always check your network tariff before doing this. You could be charged extra by your phone network if internet data is not included in your mobile price plan.
I've tested this with the following setup:
With Android 2.2 and newer you have a few other options that I chose to avoid: I was very close to paying (digital) cold hard cash for an App so that I could USB tether with my Mac computer but then I discovered a surprisingly simple way round it:
  1. Connect your phone to the Mac with USB cable (mine works regardless of whether USB storage or USB tethering is selected in Android, although other phones could be different).
  2. Go to Network Preferences in OS X (Apple Menu > System Preferences... > Network).
  3. If it hasn't been added automatically, click the “+” button to add a new network interface. Select “LG Android USB Device”.
  4. Screenshot: Select interface
  5. Leave the Telephone Number, Account Name and Password fields blank. Select the new interface and click “Advanced...”
  6. Select the following: Vendor: Generic (It's possible that your phone manufacturer appears in the Vendor list but LG doesn't) Model: GPRS (GSM/3G) APN: three.co.uk (If you're on a different network try looking this up in: Android Settings > Wireless & network settings > Mobile Networks > Access Point Names.)
  7. Screenshot: Advanced options
  8. Click OK, then Apply, then Connect and hopefully you'll be able to connect to the internet via your mobile network.
Screenshot: Connected

Note: ticking "Show modem status in menu bar" is very useful if you're using this feature a lot.

Screenshot: working in menu bar

Related information

I used to USB-tether my Mac with my old Skypephone S2 on the Three UK network. I found out how to do it by following this article. The article itself only explains how to do this in Windows but one of the comments gives instructions for how to do it on a Mac.

Screenshots below

Comments

I tried your solution, but it's not my luck, doesn't work.

I already enable USB tethering in 'Wireless & networks', and choose USB tethering in USB connection type.

Is there any other turn around solution ?

I've recently discovered one thing that stops OS X USB tethering from working with Android.

For a while it was really unreliable for me, sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn't.

I've found that it was because I had an app called Juice Defender installed on my phone. This app is very good at saving battery life but it does so by switching your phone's data mode off and on according to a set of rules that you specify.

I found that when I uninstalled Juice Defender it was no longer controlling the way my phone connected to the network and therefore Android was able to tether with OS X more reliably.

Obviously this will only be of any use to you if you happen to have Juice Defender installed. Apart from this discovery I'm sorry to say I can't think of anything else to suggest.

Your advice on tethering worked for me on my HTC Wildfire connected via T-Mobile. Thanks.

Thank you very much!
The exact same steps work for a Samsung Galaxy Ace, running Android 2.3.3, with OSX 10.6.8 on the Italian Wind network.
I tried quite a lot of combinations of similar settings in the past, with no success. Maybe I was misled by the availability of the "Samsung" vendor in the modem options, but it works with the "Generic" setting instead.
I do not need to enable USB tethering on the phone, either.

Is there any way for usb thetering with my G1 without install another useless app like you did?

Works perfectly but connection network comes up as ethernet rather than Android phone. Not sure why but don't really care!

Tethering was working for me (with Mac OS x) for ages but suddenly stopped. Thanks for bringing it back to me!

Been trying to get this working for a few years. Finally working now.

Samsung Galaxy Bean

Three HK

Enabled USB Debugging, but NOT USB Tethering.

When I first got my Android phone, Evo 4G, "Android Phone" was available as an interface in the Network control panel. I'm pretty sure that I deleted it at one point, because I couldn't get it to do anything. Not it's still gone and I want it back! When I click + there is no option for the droid in the Interface menu.

Anyone know how to get that back? I never installed it in the first place, it must have loaded from the phone. But now that I've deleted it it must be remembering that and not adding it again.

Any ideas?

just purchased a optimus 1 P-500 and am running mac 10.8.1

when i follow instructions to find the APN, I find the apn screen but there are no names or addresses listed. Help please.

thanks

After many, many false starts I followed these instructions properly and they worked.

I have a Mountain Lion MBP connecting to a Samsung Galaxy S2 on Android 4.0.3 (ICS) with O2

Points to note:

* *Don't* check the USB tethering on the Android device; just connect the cable (and enter the password on the phone).

* Look up the APN as instructed above: in my case it was mobile.o2.co.uk (not 02.co.uk as I had initially assumed).

* *Don't* check the USB tethering on the Android device; just connect the cable (and enter the password on the phone).

This helped me alot!

Tq vmuch for the share and finally I was able to connect to the internet using galaxy tab to the macbook. At first I wanted to give up after so many tries using other ways as I googled it. Thinking about how my husband wants my help to solve his prob, so I just keep trying and trying and walaaa tq vmuch...

Thanks. I was searching from many days finally i got it worked.

In Samasung galaxy ACE with MAC 10.7.3 i was not able to connect by your trick also, But finally little bit change in your trick worked for me :-)

In configuration Drop down select Add Configuration. Type any name let say (AAA) and then go to advanced

Select samsung then 3g/Gsm and enter your APN(can be found under Access Point Name of mobile network setting).

and in mobile Do not select any Tethering option. Uncheck both USB tethering and Mobile Ap(Go to Tethering Option and uncheck both) otherwise it won't work.

Then Save and try to connect.

Hope it will helpful too.

Thanks. I was searching from many days finally i got it worked.

In Samasung galaxy ACE with MAC 10.7.3 i was not able to connect by your trick also, But finally little bit change in your trick worked for me :-)

In configuration Drop down select Add Configuration. Type any name let say (AAA) and then go to advanced

Select samsung then 3g/Gsm and enter your APN(can be found under Access Point Name of mobile network setting).

and in mobile Do not select any Tethering option. Uncheck both USB tethering and Mobile Ap(Go to Tethering Option and uncheck both) otherwise it won't work.

Then Save and try to connect.

Hope it will helpful too.

Thanks,
Keshav Chainani

...there is no "Modem" tab in Networks and I hence can't enter the APN, it's recognizing the device automatically as "Android Phone" and configures it via DHCP. Ok so far, the problem is that the connection is breaking up randomly and I have to "reset the device" (switch the phone to "charge only" and back to "USB tethering") all the time. There are reports about this all over the net. Yet another letdown by Apple as it seems since USB tethering works great on my Windows computers. They should drop the desktop/laptop mess they create nowadays altogether and focus on making useless overpriced phones you can't drop on a carpet without shattering to pieces. :(

I simply wanted to write down a quick word to say thanks to you for those wonderful tips and hints you are showing on this site.

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