How To: Tether your Laptop with an iPhone and PdaNet

PdaNet has been hailed as the best reason to Jailbreak your iPhone. Why? Because it sets your iPhone up as a WiFi router that you can easily connect to with your laptop. This setup is ideal for a lot of users for a few reason:

  1. It's dead-simple to set up, as it doesn't require any weird software or modem configuration on your laptop
  2. Since the iPhone becomes a simple WiFi router, there are no blocked ports. Unlike NetShare, PdaNet is not a 'SOCKS proxy,' so you can use any internet protocol (like iChat or AIM) and not have to worry about whether or not it will work.
  3. Although you'd take a big old hit on speed, you could theoretically share your internet connection with several computers.

There is one major caveat you need to be aware of with PdaNet, however. The Terms of Service on the standard AT&T iPhone contract and also on their standard Data Plans do not allow you to tether. Most people simply ignore this and go ahead and tether anyway -- being careful not to overdo it to prevent AT&T from hitting them with extra fees or even a cancellation. If that doesn't worry you, read on for a full how to on getting PdaNet setup to tether to your Laptop!

Step One: JailBreak your iPhone

This might be the most intimidating part of the entire process, but fret not. Jeremy has supplied us with easy-to-follow instructions that will guide you through the entire process. During this process, pay attention to the 'Customize your firmware" section -- you'll want to make sure you check "Add Cydia" to your firmware, as that's where PdaNet lives.

  1. How to Jailbreak an iPhone 3G with a Mac
  2. How to Jailbreak an iPhone 3G with a Windows PC
  3. How to Jailbreak a 1st Generation iPhone with a Windows PC

After you've jailbroken your iPhone, you might consider a quick detour to the Top 5 Must-Have Jailbreak Apps to celebrate your newly Jailbroken iPhone.

Step Two: Set Up Cydia

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Once your iPhone is Jailbroken, you're going to want to install PdaNet. The place you install from is Cydia, which is an application that connects you to tons of jailbroken applications, much like the more-familiar installer.app. However, it's very likely that Cydia isn't going to be up-to-date yet when you first start it up, so we'll need to get that going.

First, start up Cydia and you can go ahead and go through the introductory screens. It will ask you to make some "Essential Upgrades" and you should do that right away. It may also ask you to choose what sort of interface you want, I chose the most basic interface and suggest you do the same.

When the app is finally done with its first-run update stuff, you're going to want to hit the "Changes" tab at the bottom:

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Go ahead and hit the "Upgrade" button in the upper-right of your screen to install everything there. The reason you're doing this is because PdaNet is hosted by ModMyi.com and you won't be able to download it until that repository is updated. The short version: go ahead and do those updates. :)

Step Three: Install PdaNet!

Now that you have Cydia updated, you're ready to use it to install PdaNet. Go head and tap the Search tab on the lower-right. In the search bar at the top, simply tap in "pdanet" (or just "pda") to autofilter the list of all apps down to the one we want: PdaNet. Then tap PdaNet in the list.

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You'll see an info screen for PdaNet. Tap the "Install" button in the upper right, then the "confirm" button in the upper right on the next screen, then watch the magic install happen:

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Congratulations! You've installed PdaNet!

Step Four: Set up an AdHoc WiFi Network

Although PdaNet is a full-on WiFi router, it doesn't actually set up a WiFi network that your computer can just join. Instead, what you'll need to do is set up an "Ad Hoc WiFi Network" on your computer and then join that network on your iPhone. What this essentially does is tell your computer to create a WiFi Network and allow computers on that network to share internet connections. Your iPhone will then become one of those 'computers' and your laptop will be able to use its network.

This seems a little intimidating, but in truth it's very simple. The good news is you should only have to do the hard stuff the first time. The second time you want to tether you can just switch to that Ad Hoc network and turn on PdaNet!

One quick note: the PdaNet application has a convenient question mark button on the lower left which is a link to this How To at June Fabrics' (the maker of PdaNet) website. If you're setting up a new computer and don't have access to this guide, that'll do the trick.

Ok, another quick note: for those who are very security conscious, we should note that the network you're going to set up will only be able to use WEP encryption for security. WEP encryption is kind of like a door made of paper: it will prevent the casual passerby from entering, but it won't stop anybody with even a little bit of determination. If you're concerned that a hacker could be within WiFi range or are otherwise security sensitive, PdaNet is probably not the tethering option for you.

How to set up an Ad Hoc WiFi Network on a PC

First, open up your Control Panel and then "Network Connections"

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Now, you need to right-click on your "Wireless Network Connection" and then you'll select "Properties" in the dropdown.

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Now that you're looking at the properties of your Wireless Connection, you need to switch to the "Wireless Networks" tab.

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On this window, there's an "Add" button there underneath "Preferred networks." Go ahead an click that. You're about to create your first Ad Hoc WiFi Network!

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The window that appears after you click "Add" is where you're going to enter all the info for your Ad Hoc Network. Give it a name like "PdaTether". Set your "Network Authentication" to "Open" and your "Data Encryption" to "WEP." Then set a "Network Key" to something easy to remember, but not too easy. This is the password for your Ad Hoc Network. We very strongly recommend you set a password, otherwise anybody in the area will not only have access to your internet connection, but also network access to your computer. Not Good.

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Next, be sure to click "This is a computer-to-computer (ad hoc) network; wireless access points are not used." Once you've done that, click OK. Congratulations, you have set up your Ad Hoc WiFi Network. Jump down to Step Five.

How to Set Up an Ad Hoc WiFi Network on a Mac

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Try not to get too cocky about this, Mac-people, but your instructions are a bit easier than for the PC folks.

Step one, click on the Airport icon in the upper right of your screen and select "Add New network." On the window that pops up, you simply need to enter a network name, leave the channel on automatic, and then click the box next to "Require Password."

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As the instructions on the window indicate, you should only enter a 5-letter password; we recommend a mix of letters and numbers. As mentioned in the Windows section, we very strongly recommend you set a password, otherwise anybody in the area will not only have access to your internet connection, but also network access to your computer. Not Good. Click OK and then, boom, you have created an Ad Hoc WiFi network!

Step Five: Connect your iPhone to Your Ad Hoc WiFi Network

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Now grab your iPhone and head into Settings, Tap Wi-Fi, and then select your new network. Enter your password and smile a bit: you're almost done!

Step Six: Open PdaNet

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Now hit the home button and open up PdaNet --iIt will check to make sure that your WiFi connection is the right kind, and then once it is, pow, it will "Just Work." You can tell because PdaNet will switch over to the following screen, which lists connected computers and data transferred.

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At this point, we're going to go ahead and recommend you plug your iPhone in to keep it charged, as you're really going to be sucking down the battery. As mentioned at the top of the article, be careful you don't use too much data or you might sent up a red flag at AT&T.

PdaNet does have a feature that allows you to exit out of it to check another app, but beware that it may shut down if you don't head back to it fairly quickly. I haven't tried it yet, but I suspect that Backgrounder might allow PdaNet to operate in the background indefinitely.

Step Seven: Turn off PdaNet and Celebrate!

When you're done, just hit the toggle switch at the bottom of PdaNet and then head back to your computer and switch your network back to what you normally use. Huzzah -- you're now a mobile master!

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91 Comments
  • Thanks Daniel -- we try not to ONLY do stuff that's just the newest newsy news, but also have some helpful how-to stuff for people who might not be as technically savvy from time to time -- it's a new focus we're excited about and you can tell because we've removed the "blog" link from our top menu (it just duplicated clicking on the logo anyway) and replaced it with a new Help & How To Link.
    Cheers!
  • While I agree that PdaNet isn't new, I like that someone too the time to actually write this up and share it with the community. This isn't rocket science, but nor is it commonsense either.
  • I would like to thank you for the guide. I have heard about pdaNet but it is really nice to see the step-by-step process and I truly appreciate that. Thanks a lot guys.
  • Sounds pretty nice. Would I be able to play WoW through a 3G connection?
  • Now all I need is a laptop with wifi, and a business trip somewhere to a location that doesn't give free wifi. :)
  • Christopher Vitek, I don't think any application can help you out with your specific needs ;-) If you do find a way, then I would like a free Apple MacBook Pro (the new ones with the glass screen)!!!
  • thanks for the guide, it's very well explained, now I might try it
  • Help... I have PDANet installed and have created an adhoc network, but the network keeps dropping out and going into "On Demand" mode within seconds of connecting. I have a macbook pro running XP and a Acer Aspire One with XP, both do the same. They both have an Atheros chipset though, any ideas? I've even gone to effort of putting an Atheros config utility and still no go...
  • W0W on a tethered phone? If you don't mind running from graveyards a lot, sure.
  • This app works great and your detailed instructions were amazing. Using this with 3G is actually faster than my Verizon Wireless usb modem. Quick question, when would AT&T start noticing that you're using more than a normal user should? Thanks again!
  • Is there any way to tether a laptop with an iphone without creation a wifi ad hoc network, for example using a usb cable? My network policies prevent the creation of ad hoc networks.
    Thanks!
  • hey there. I've created an ad-hoc network on an Acer AspireOne (windows XP, and ONLY cause I'm about to travel and didn't want to invest in a macbookPro to possibly have it stolen en route! hehe)... anyway the iPhone connects to the ad-hoc network seemingly perfectly, and pdaNet seems to be working fine. But within seconds of my pc joining the network it drops off it again. This happens when I leave pdaNet open, and when I haven't received any calls or smses. Can anyone help with this? Thanks, Jason.
  • Great!! Worked perfectly and smoothly without any problem. I would just add to the instructions after step number 4 that you need to connect your computer/laptop to the peer to peer network you just created and then you need to join that network from your iphone.
    thanks a lot
  • Is it possible to setup a broadcasting wifi network on an iphone, such that other devices as a laptop can simply connect to it in the same way as to usual wifi access points? No prior ad hoc networks.
  • is it possible to open IN ports in pdanet and redirect them to the connected laptop ip? Emule reasons...
  • Thanks for this great info. It all worked perfectly. except connecting to the ad hoc network. I can set up the ad hoc per your instructions but, then I can't see it or manually connect to it from my iphone. Any ideas?
  • When choosing the adhoc WiFi Network on the iPhone it asks me for a Username & Password. Anyone had this issue?
  • I'm having the same issue as Jason on post #13. Connects then drops after a few seconds.....!
    Help
  • I want
  • Thanks a lot guys. Just purchased the IPhone and thought I would have switch my sim back and forth for a while.
    Worked perfectly!
  • Hello, any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I have been banging my head against the wall trying to trouble shoot my process to connect PDAnet from my windows XP PC.
    I get all the way to the end of step four. When I attempt to click “This is a computer-to-computer (ad hoc) network; wireless access points are not used.” The option is grayed out and unclickable.
    I have been told that this my be the same port my computer is connecting to it's router with, and that I need to tell it to forget the router. If this is so how do I do this? Has anyone else ran into this problem?
    Thanks,
    Tuna Oddfellow
  • this instructions are awesome. The only one thing was is that I had to find instructions on setting up ad-hoc on Vista. the rest is great. Thank you.
  • I am running 1.x firmware on my iphone and can't seem to find PDAnet on Cydia. I looked under "Modmyi" and it just is not there. Is there a conection between the firmware I am running and the non-availability of PDAnet? The Cydia page on my iphone says that IphoneOS1.x is no longer supported by cydia. It says to upgrade with PwnageTool. Will this solve my problem?
    Thanks in advance for your response.
  • I am running firmware 2.1 and my iPhone cannot find PDANet in Cydia. I did the updates for ModMyi.com, adv-cmd, inetutils, and iSpazio. The first and last indicated issues in updating and I cant find how to do them over to see if PDANet becomes available. What should I do? I used PwnageTool to jailbreak and unlock.
  • thanks for this guide - i was up and running with PdaNet in minutes!
  • "Sounds pretty nice. Would I be able to play WoW through a 3G connection?"
    I did this on my Blackjack about 9 months ago, and then my HTC Kaiser 4 months or so ago.
    WOrked with USB, worked with Bluetooth, and worked with WMWifiRouter.
    Pings were 150-200, so don't expect hardcore arena, but if signal strength is 3 bars+, definitely playable
  • I successfully used PDANet with my iPhone, but have some questions:
    1) How would I get a second laptop on the same connection to share it with the first laptop that created the adhoc network? I tried connecting the second laptop to the adhoc network and got an error about an IP address being in use.
    2) Or, is there a way I can share the iphone's internet to two computers through a router (such as linksys,etc) either with stock firmware or third party firmware such as DD-WRT?
    3) Is there any way the iPhone itself could truly act like a router, broadcasting a wifi network signal for laptops to join instead of the adhoc network?
    T