Getting slow speeds or dropped connections on your Apple AirPort Wi-Fi router? Here's how to fix it!

Getting slow speeds or dropped connections on your Apple AirPort Wi-Fi router? Here's how to fix it!

Wi-Fi seems magical. Unless your connection keeps dropping or slowing to a crawl. Interference can cause that. Sometimes it's a microwave or a automatic garage door opener or an elevator, sometimes it's other devices on the same Wi-Fi channel. If you have an Apple AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, or AirPort Time Capsule as your Wi-Fi router and you're experiencing disconnections or interference one of the first fixes to try is changing the channel.

How to change the channel on your Apple AirPort Wi-Fi router

  1. Launch the AirPort Utility on your Mac while connected to your AirPort Express or AirPort Extreme.
  2. Click on your AirPort Express or AirPort Extreme on the main screen.
  3. Click on the Wireless tab in the top navigation.
  4. On the next screen, click on Wireless Options...
  5. Select a different channel than what you're currently on. (You can do this for both networks if you'd like).
  6. Now click Save.

Your AirPort Express, Extreme, or Time Capsule may reboot causing you to lose connection for a few minutes. After that you should be back up and running. If you started on one end, try the other. If neither work, try in the middle. Keep trying channels and you should find one that's loud and clear.

I've had issues in the past when adding components such as a Sonos system that required me to change channels so two devices weren't fighting each other for a connection.

Are you having internet issues? Give the above steps a try and let me know if it helped solve any issues for you!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Getting slow speeds or dropped connections on your Apple AirPort Wi-Fi router? Here's how to fix it!

15 Comments

In theory, Automatic will channel hop and find a place with the least traffic.

In practice, sometimes it isn't so bright and overlaps with someone else's hotspot. This is more likely to happen in densely populated areas, like an apartment building.

I like to keep my Apple stuff on Automatic and it seems to work well for me, despite having lots of other potentially-interfering wireless systems around.

How do you decide the channel to switch it to? Mine only allows choosing channels from 1-11 (it's an older one) Should I try them at random?

How do you choose a Radio mode?

The channels that are available depend on which country you are in, the Uk has a few extra channels compared to the US, for example.

Worth noting that adjacent WiFi channels overlap each other, so you will want to be a few channels away from the strongest interference sources in your neighbourhood. (I use iStumbler on my mac to discover where the least congested bands are where I live.)

I'm having some trouble getting my airport express to extend my AirPort Extreme network wirelessly. I know it can be done, and was told it was simple. The more comments I read though, I'm finding that untrue. Can anyone help?

Sent from the iMore App

Nice Post, thank you!!

I also recommend the "WiFi Explorer" Mac App, the application show the neighbor networks, and the channels, modes and levels of each one, in 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Channels. Based on that information you can make a better selection for a less used channel.

By the way, the 5Ghz channel on my TimeCapsule works only with manual channel selection.

I like the article. If I may suggest a follow up to the topic with information on how to use OSX built-in network diagnostics tool to determine what the best channels are in a crowded wifi space.

Thanks for the article. But you don't mention that after clicking "Save" you need to click "Update." At least, that's what I had to do. Sadly, it did not fix my problem. My upload speeds are normal - around 5Mbps, but download speeds are less than 1Mbps, when they used to be around 30. Is there any way I can troubleshoot this? I did just get a new modem installed, after Internet died for a couple of days. But its ethernet behavior seems to be fine, which makes me wonder if it's the Airport that's the problem.