How to tether your iPad Wi-Fi to your iPhone using personal hotspot

How to connect a wifi only iPad to your iPhone using personal hotspot

If you have a Wi-Fi only iPad, or any internet capable device, you can easily use your iPhone's personal hotspot feature to get online. Many carriers support the personal hotspot feature, as long as you've got a compatible data plan. Once you're connected to your iPhone, you can browse the web, send iMessages, download apps, and do anything you'd normally be able to do on your iPad while connected to Wi-Fi.

How to connect your iPad to an iPhone personal hotspot

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on Personal Hotspot.
  3. Tap on the toggle to turn Personal Hotspot On.
  4. Create a password for your personal hotspot in the password field. This prevents unauthorized users from using your iPhone's data.
  5. On your iPad, launch the Settings app.
  6. Tap on Wi-Fi.
  7. Join your iPhone's network like you would any other wifi network. The network name will be the name of your iPhone. Instead of wifi bars, you should see an interlink icon next to it, which makes it easier to pick out from other wifi networks.

Not only can you connect your iPad to your iPhone's personal hotspot, but any other device including a Mac, PC, or any other device that has wifi built in. Most carriers allow you to connect up to 10 devices at a time, but that may vary depending on what plan you have and who you have service through. Just keep in mind that using tethering will cause you to go through your data plan faster. It can also drain your iPhone's battery significantly fast.

Do you use personal hotspot often? Does having the ability to connect your iPad kept you from purchasing a cellular iPad? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

Note: Originally published March 2011, updated May 2014.

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 43 comments. Add yours.

Ryan Moser says:

So you can hot spot over 3G and make FaceTime calls on the pulling device!? Crazy! I thought AT&T said 3G wasn't fast enough!?
This is why I went for wifi iPad2!! What's the hotspot fee? Can it be added and dropped like 3G service can on an iPad?

H3llbre says:

Unfortunately if your iPhone goes to sleep it disconnects the tethered device after 90 seconds. So it's either keep your iPhone screen on all the time while tethering or a connect/disconnect/reconnect cycle.
Hope that gets fixed in iOS 4.4 or 5.0

Rene Ritchie says:

I haven't been disconnected when using my Mac on Personal Hotspot with my iPhone screen off, even after an hour or more.

H3llbre says:

It kept happening to me yesterday. I did a google search and came across this apple support article;
Under wifi troubleshooting it says this;
"Note: If you leave the Personal Hotspot screen or put iPhone to sleep, iPhone only broadcasts the Wi-Fi network for an additional 90 seconds. If no devices join the Wi-Fi network during that time, iPhone 4 stops broadcasting your Wi-Fi network. You can start broadcasting your Wi-Fi network again by tapping Settings > Personal Hotspot."

Edwardo says:

I'm sure glad MyWi doesn't time out like that! Long live Jailbreak! ;)

Leadss says:

Jailbreak fixes a lot of what Apple seems to ignore or drop the ball on. MyWi is the best ever. Especially since there are no monthly fees.

Mona says:

Where do i find Jailbreak? Only jailbreak in App store is a game.
Thank you for your help!

Rob says:

So are you saying I can tether my internet to an iPad from my iPhone via Bluetooth also?? That's the first I'd heard of that! Do I need to have a tethering plan for this to work over bluetooth or can I do it without one?

TumnusMr says:

I'm pretty sure Bluetooth tethering requires a plan just like WiFi to the iPhone, but this is also the first I have heard of the iPad being able to use Bluetooth for tethering. If true I might just enable tethering as my wife can then use her new iPad 2 with her 3GS until she gets the iPhone 5.
Can someone confirm then that iPads can tether using Bluetooth now? I thought Jobs said this was not happening with iPad 1?

Saed says:

Yes iPad can use Bluetooth for tethering.
I already connected my original iPad using Bluetooth tethering from my iPhone 3Gs many times. and it Works.

Matt says:

How do u get the iPad device to show up onthe Bluetooth screen

Darren says:

Hi I have the options on the 3GS after upgrading to 4.3 but it takes me to my providers website to sign up for a tethering service.
Is it free on iPhone4 and not work on 3GS without paying ?
Darren, Uk

FLskydiver says:

I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's not free on iPhone 4 either (at least in the USA, or unless you're jailbroken).

FLskydiver says:

I see now you are most definitely not in the USA, and I have no clue about the deals in the UK, so please forgive my intrusion to this conversation. Sorry.

dave says:

I would suggest using bluetooth to tether the iPad to the iPhone.
The primary advantage is that you can leave the iPhone in your pocket and just initiate the connection on your iPad [once you've paired the iPhone and iPad]. With WiFi, you may need to dig out the iPhone to re-enable the Wifi hotspot, then sleep/wake the iPad or otherwise get it to connect to the hotspot [or wait for it to auto-connect].
However, to disconnect, the most straightforward way I have found is to turn off Bluetooth on the iPad [then turn it back on again if you want].
And I'm not sure about the relative speeds of the two methods [doesn't matter if both connections are faster than the 3G connection].

eddie says:

I got my iphone jailbroken with the mywi enabled and it works the same exact way if not better.. at least apple is opening things up to allow users to share their Iphone 4 3g connectivity. thats pretty good but no need for me to restore my phone to use ios 4.3 maybe with ios 5 when it does come out they have more feautures.. also with my3g i can use facetime with no significant problems. But i like this idea with apple the only part i dont like only for iphone 4 which kinda tells people if you want to share your network then upgrade.. nice little sales pitch to get users to upgrade their iphones.

JPSAL says:

The Bluetooth option also works with the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 3G (on 4.2.1 of course)

Gene says:

Can you use hotspot and talk on your iphone4 at the same time?

Fred Norris says:

Not getting this whole hotspot thing, so I need some help.....
Have iPhone 4 with unlimited data plan for $99.00 per month with AT&T.
Have iPad 2 with unlimited data plan for $25.00 per month with AT&T ( grandfathered my plan).
Question. Should I eliminate data plan with iPad 2 and if so, will the hotspot fee be less than my monthly data plan on AT&T?
Very confused and would appreciate the solid.

BrianTufo says:

If you want hotspot with AT&T you MUST be on the $25/month 2GB data plan. You also MUST pay an additional $20 for an extra 2GB to use for tethering/hotspot. If the extra cost on your iPhone bill is even a few dollars less than the iPad plan I personally would ditch the 3G iPad all together and get a WiFi only version like many users have been doing for several months now with their original iPad.

BrianTufo says:

Sorry I saw you were on unlimited data. If you want the tethering it will basically cost you $15/month more for the iPhone. However you will no longer have unlimited data on the iPhone. If this isn't a big deal I'd suggest what I mentioned in my first post about going the WiFi only route with the iPad.

Fred Norris says:

Appreciate the help. I use lots of data due to constantly streaming content on Sirius XM app, so to have unlimited data on both devices may be the way to go for me.
Thanks again @Brian.

BrianTufo says:

No problem glad I could help out! If you Jailbreak you can keep the unlimited plan and tether/wifi hotspot for free. ;-)

Diane says:

I hope it isn't unkosher here to mention that a jailbreak app will enable tethering on your iPhone. I know people here use MiWi but I just used TeatherMe. It cost me 1.99 three weeks ago and all it does is open up your native iphone teathering. Simple and cheap. I have been using it on my Verizon iPhone 4 to connect with my new iPad 2 (yeah!) and it works beautifully. I believe up to five people can connect at once. It enables both Wifi and Bluetooth teathering.
It's my data so imho I should be able to use it where I want. And no, your carrier can not tell that you are teathering as long as you don't go completely gonzo in using your data which will raise some eyebrows. BTW I can teather my laptop to it as well (via wifi or BT)

Iphone5 says:

That is basic step to get these thing which is you telling

chinoEspangol says:

Hi, i'm using my iPhone 3gS already as a hotspot for my Mac. And it do it over bluetooth. No problems with connection at all, even if iPhone goes on sleep. Thing is, i can't seem to use it as a hotspot for my iPad and my ITouch 4th Gen. Software on my iPad is still 4.2, could this be the reason? Tried pairing it with my iPhone 3gS and it can't find my iPhone over bluetooth. Please help. Gracias

Anthony Parran says:

For those that didn't. I live in Canada and unlike the plans in the US, regardless of your supplier, you get all, and I mean all options available.
I have been with FIDO, a sub-carrier of Rogers telecommunications and I have 6GB of Data each month, yet have rarely gone over 600MB.
I point this out because I Thether my iPad to my iPhone 4. My iPad has WiFi. It DOES NOT HAVE A SIM CARD. So I only pay for one data plan yet can use my iPhone as a personal hotelier for my friends with iPods or iPads with WiFi only.
If they go to porno sites, I punch their lights out.
Regardless it sure helps when I am using the aviation moving map software and my iPhone acts as a GPS for my iPad.

Philipsantos says:

What about with the iPhone 3Gs ?

future ipad owner says:

thinking of getting an ipad.... good hint. was not sure if I should get wi fi or 3gs or both. thanks.

Wingchunscott says:

I connect iPad2 using the iphone4 as a personal hotspot but the connection keeps getting cut off (when the ipad2 powers off). I noticed this problem does not occur if I connect the ipad4 using another wifi. Any tips to prevent the disconnection with the iphone4? Cheers.

adent says:

I read somewhere that the connection will disconnect if no activity for 90 seconds

Hoopt4500 says:

this will cost you, unless you have the 4GB plan! Ridiculous considering i own both devices and want to use THE DATA I ALREADY PAY FOR on my ipad! ATT has us by the ball$.

A3wallace says:

how do you stop other people from using your personal hot spot?

Mcurrie1 says:

How long can one tether without losing connection? Is there unlimited tethering? If not...what would be the cost, say for 2 hours per day?

Mcurrie1 says:

I intend to get the 4G plan for the iPhone 4s

Jeff says:

This doesn't work for me and I tried everything (I have AT&T tethering).

Jeff says:

This doesn't work for me and I tried everything (I have AT&T tethering).

emelyn says:

when i go to settings on my iphone4 phone, i dont see personal hotspot, do i have to download it? pls help me how to connect my iphone internet to ipad2. thank you

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Dotty LeMieux says:

I got the personal hotspot working yesterday, and connected with the ipad. But today it will not work. Says it is on. Shows iphone in the device menu but will not connect. On the phone the bar on the top saying personal hotspot has disappeared. What do I do?