If your Mac gets upset or keeps crashing, the built-in recovery mode can come in handy. MacOS Recovery is the diagnostic tool designed to help eliminate issues that are preventing your MacBook from starting up properly. You can also use macOS Recovery to wipe your hard drive, perform a hard drive restore from a Time Machine backup, reinstall an older version of macOS, and much more.
There’s also Internet Recovery Mode, an internet-dependent mode that reinstalls the original version of macOS that came with your MacBook. If your Mac doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi in either of these modes, we’ve put together a few troubleshooting checks to help fix the error. For normal macOS recovery mode, you can turn off Wi-Fi and turn it back on. To do this, click on the WLAN symbol in the upper right corner of the menu bar and select “Deactivate WLAN”. Re-enable your device’s WiFi and try to connect to a network.
If your Mac still can’t find a network, or if it can’t connect to any visible Wi-Fi networks, continue with the troubleshooting solutions below.
1. Check router
Whenever you have WiFi-related connection problems on your mobile devices or PC, we always recommend checking that the router is working properly. If your MacBook doesn’t detect Wi-Fi networks in Recovery Mode, make sure the router is turned on. Also make sure that the router’s SSID is not hidden.
If so, you can either unhide the network or manually enter its credentials (SSID and password) in macOS recovery.
Connect to hidden WiFi in macOS recovery mode
Step 1: In the menu bar tap on the WLAN symbol and select “Join other networks”.
Step 2: Enter Enter the network credentials (network name and password) in the fields provided and click Join.
Connect to hidden WiFi in internet recovery mode
Step 1: Tap the Select Network drop-down button.
Step 2: Tap the ellipsis (three dots) to open the Wi-Fi authentication page of the Internet recovery menu.
Step 3: Enter Enter the Wi-Fi SSID and password (as shown in the router’s control panel) in the appropriate dialog boxes and click the tick icon to connect to the network.
If your Mac still won’t connect to the Wi-Fi network (stuck on the charging icon), try moving the router closer to your Mac – or vice versa. This can help improve the Wi-FiSignal and improve network reception.
You can also try connecting to a different network. If your Mac has successfully connected to another router / device, most likely there is some limitation or restriction preventing your device from connecting to the affected network. For example, suppose your Mac was blocked on a router. To the example, you cannot connect to the network from macOS Recovery or Internet Recovery Mode. If you have access to the router’s control center or software, check and unlock your MacBook’s MAC address.
2. Reset your Mac’s WiFi settings
If your Mac still won’t connect to a Wi-Fi network in the macOS Recovery menu, shut it down (press and hold the power button until it goes off) and restart it normally. Then reset the WiFi settings.
This will delete any previously connected wireless networks on your Mac. However, you may be able to fix the glitches that are preventing your Mac from connecting to WiFi in macOS Recovery.
There are three different ways you can reset a MacBook’s Wi-Fi settings. Either through:
- Deleting and reading out the WLAN interface.
- Deleting Wi-Fi configuration files.
- Reset the TCP / IP stack.
Our comprehensive guide on how to reset Wi-Fi settings on Mac provides step-by-step instructions on the methods listed above. After the Wi-Fi reset, check if you can connect to a Wi-Fi network in regular mode. If possible, shut down your Mac, restart it in Internet Recovery Mode (after hitting the power button, hold down Command + Option + R) and try connecting to WiFi.
Alternative: use Ethernet
In terms of stability and user experience, Ethernet is much better than Wi-Fi. Interestingly, the Mac supports using ethernet in internet recovery mode. If your MacBook won’t connect to WiFi in Recovery Mode, likely due to complex system errors or hardware damage, you may have to resort to installing macOS in Recovery Mode over Ethernet.
For older MacBooks with an Ethernet port in recovery mode, plug in an Ethernet cable connected to a router (or other internet source). Your Mac will automatically detect the Ethernet cable and immediately begin the macOS download.
For Macs without a built-in Ethernet port (most modern Macs), you’ll need a USB-C to Ethernet adapter to connect your device to an Ethernet cable. Check out some of the best ethernet adapters for Mac that are the best value for money.
Have your Mac checked
It’s worth noting that Internet Recovery Mode only works on MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and iMacs released between 2010/2011 and newer. If you have an older Mac Mac OS X Lion or something below it, it may not be able to connect to wifi in recovery mode. And if your MacBook still won’t connect to Wi-Fi in macOS Recovery Mode after trying the troubleshooting tips above, visit an Apple Authorized Store or Repair Center to check for possible hardware damage to the Wi-Fi antenna or hard drive allow.
Is your Mac stuck on a black screen when it boots up? If so, check out the solutions in the guide linked below to fix your Mac and revive it without breaking all hell loose.