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USB Tethering a Mac to an Android phone

Most new Android phones support Wi-Fi tethering, creating a wireless hotspot for sharing the phone’s Internet connection with other devices. Android phones also support USB tethering (unless removed by carrier/manufacturer), which is a nice feature to have when wireless tethering isn’t ideal. In the past the problem has been the lack of USB drivers to connect the phone’s connection to Macs.

Now, fortunately there is HoRNDIS. A USB driver developed by Joshua Wise that allows Android’s built-in USB tethering capability to work seamlessly with Mac computers. No rooting, no hacking, or apps required. It just works.

  1. Go to the HoRNDIS page on Joshua’s website and download the latest package.
  2. Install the .pkg, follow prompts in the installer.
  3. Plug in your Android phone with a USB cable, and open Settings.
    Settings -> Wireless & Networks -> More -> Tethering and portable hotspot
  4. Enable USB Tethering, check that box.
  5. Now on the Mac, open System Preferences -> Network. You should see your phone as one of the connections in the list. Like so:
  6. You should now be online.

In my testing, I was tethering a MacBook Pro with OS X 10.8 connected to a Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.2. The connection was fast, and more reliable than Wi-Fi tethering. The according to the developer, HoRNDIS is working with Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8.

The advantages of USB tethering :

  • Wi-Fi frequencies may be congested in busy locations, slow Wi-Fi.
  • Charge your phone while tethering.
  • Reduce latency, more responsive connection
  • Don’t have to worry about wireless security settings.
  • Wilf

    Horndis is awesome!

  • Wilf

    Horndis is awesome!

  • RVM3

    I’m so grateful to Horndis! Freeware of the year!

  • http://twitter.com/RearViewMirror3 Rear View Mirror

    I’m so grateful to Horndis! Freeware of the year!

  • Guest

    USB tethering from my GNex to my 10.6 Macbook at last! Yay!

  • Andrew M.

    USB tethering from my GNex to my 10.6 Macbook at last! Yay!

  • Whacjo

    Great job!
    I spent an hour trying to get my Brandluxe usb modem to work and eventually, frustrated, gave up after trying to install their own drivers form their website, trying apple stores version of it and failing as well. Plugging in my Galaxy and downloading Horndis’ patch finally gave me peace of mind. Apple, GRRRR!

  • Whacjo

    Great job!
    I spent an hour trying to get my Brandluxe usb modem to work and eventually, frustrated, gave up after trying to install their own drivers form their website, trying apple stores version of it and failing as well. Plugging in my Galaxy and downloading Horndis’ patch finally gave me peace of mind. Apple, GRRRR!

  • Ritwik S

    Amazing work. Really appreciate it.

  • Ritwik S

    Amazing work. Really appreciate it.

  • Randy S

    Awesome tip. Thanks!

  • Randy S

    Awesome tip. Thanks!

  • jimb0

    yay

  • jimb0

    yay

  • EGross

    Wow man. This 5 min of tutorial gave me more help than 5 hours of tech support. You deserve a raise.

  • EGross

    Wow man. This 5 min of tutorial gave me more help than 5 hours of tech support. You deserve a raise.

  • SpAnon

    Thank you so much for this. I was installing a hundred apks and this was the best and fastest solution. Keep on with the good work!

  • SpAnon

    Thank you so much for this. I was installing a hundred apks and this was the best and fastest solution. Keep on with the good work!

  • Vinod

    Thanks for the app provided for the mac users like me and others who don’t get softwares or apps like windows users. How ever I love to use my mac…..

  • Vinod

    Thanks for the app provided for the mac users like me and others who don’t get softwares or apps like windows users. How ever I love to use my mac…..

  • nicolas enjay

    worked on mine MAC BOOK PRO thanks 🙂

  • nicolas enjay

    worked on mine MAC BOOK PRO thanks 🙂

  • WuPro

    Can’t get my Note 2 to work with my Mac Air. Can’t get the network preferences. any suggestions?

  • WuPro

    Can’t get my Note 2 to work with my Mac Air. Can’t get the network preferences. any suggestions?

  • Prasanth

    Works from nexus 4 on macbook pro
    Thanks !

  • Prasanth

    Works from nexus 4 on macbook pro
    Thanks !

  • pat fonta

    thank you for the great info
    now i can take some pictures out from the android phone
    my next phone will be an iphone 6 or 7

  • pat fonta

    thank you for the great info
    now i can take some pictures out from the android phone
    my next phone will be an iphone 6 or 7

  • Best Mac Tips

    Thanks for this. I’ll try it out.

    I was actually looking for a fix to get my Nexus 4 to connect to a shared connection from my Mac (has a 4G datastick, and shared Internet over wi-fi). The N4 connects to the Mac but has zero Internet access. Anyway… perhaps I’ll put the sim back into the N4 and tether over USB.

    By the way… the link http://joshuawise.com/horndis is down. In fact the whole joshuawise site is down. Most likely just a temporary issue. But in case not, here’s the link where I downloaded HoRNDIS from http://ge.tt/4OFTC0m/v/0

  • Best Mac Tips

    Thanks for this. I’ll try it out.

    I was actually looking for a fix to get my Nexus 4 to connect to a shared connection from my Mac (has a 4G datastick, and shared Internet over wi-fi). The N4 connects to the Mac but has zero Internet access. Anyway… perhaps I’ll put the sim back into the N4 and tether over USB.

    By the way… the link http://joshuawise.com/horndis is down. In fact the whole joshuawise site is down. Most likely just a temporary issue. But in case not, here’s the link where I downloaded HoRNDIS from http://ge.tt/4OFTC0m/v/0

  • matheszabi

    mt6589t to macoax 10.8 working

  • matheszabi

    mt6589t to macoax 10.8 working

  • SpicyYellowCake

    Doesnt work. Phone says i need a hotspot subscribtion. Boo

  • SpicyYellowCake

    Doesnt work. Phone says i need a hotspot subscribtion. Boo

  • bizz_koot

    Working for LG Optimus 4x 4.1.2 with MacOSX 10.9. Thank You!

  • bizz_koot

    Working for LG Optimus 4x 4.1.2 with MacOSX 10.9. Thank You!

  • FatBrandon

    I just purchased a Nexus 5 from the play store. It has Android 4.4 on it. Wifi Tether for Root Users isn’t working, I guess the developer needs to update that to work on KitKat(android 4.4). Until then I thought Id give this a try. Everything goes as planned until I reach step 6, you should now be online. Im not online and I don’t have any internet access… weird… Ill keep playing with it.

    • tyresmoke

      I have it working with Nexus 5 on 4.4. It just takes a moment for it to go through. Make sure USB tethering is checked in Android Settings, and give it a few seconds after it says Nexus 5 Connected in System Preferences on the mac.

      Also you shouldn’t need wifi tether for root users on Nexus devices, they have pretty robust wifi tethering built in, and it’s independent of your carrier’s tethering policies.

    • jerry

      Hey man, I had the same problem – and after a while, I found that enabling USB debugging in developer options solves the problem! Cheers!

  • FatBrandon

    I just purchased a Nexus 5 from the play store. It has Android 4.4 on it. Wifi Tether for Root Users isn’t working, I guess the developer needs to update that to work on KitKat(android 4.4). Until then I thought Id give this a try. Everything goes as planned until I reach step 6, you should now be online. Im not online and I don’t have any internet access… weird… Ill keep playing with it.

    • tyresmoke

      I have it working with Nexus 5 on 4.4. It just takes a moment for it to go through. Make sure USB tethering is checked in Android Settings, and give it a few seconds after it says Nexus 5 Connected in System Preferences on the mac.

      Also you shouldn’t need wifi tether for root users on Nexus devices, they have pretty robust wifi tethering built in, and it’s independent of your carrier’s tethering policies.

    • jerry

      Hey man, I had the same problem – and after a while, I found that enabling USB debugging in developer options solves the problem! Cheers!

  • Gwiazdoora

    My old mac have a 0sx 10.3.9 G4 power pc – & i can’t used a web – how o can to do? ( sorry 4 my english)

  • Gwiazdoora

    My old mac have a 0sx 10.3.9 G4 power pc – & i can’t used a web – how o can to do? ( sorry 4 my english)

  • DKM

    I’m not able to instal HoRINDIS to my mac. Is it because I have Maverick as opposed to Mountain Lion or older versions of their os x?

  • DKM

    I’m not able to instal HoRINDIS to my mac. Is it because I have Maverick as opposed to Mountain Lion or older versions of their os x?

  • T3m3r1ty

    HTC One Android 4.2.2 MacBook Pro OSX 9 works beautifully. Had to ctrl-Open the .pkg because it’s not signed

  • T3m3r1ty

    HTC One Android 4.2.2 MacBook Pro OSX 9 works beautifully. Had to ctrl-Open the .pkg because it’s not signed

  • Adizzle

    Hi I have tried this with my Nexus 5 and the connection goes yellow and says ‘Nexus 5 had a self-assigned IP address and will not be able to connect to the internet’ Help?

  • Adizzle

    Hi I have tried this with my Nexus 5 and the connection goes yellow and says ‘Nexus 5 had a self-assigned IP address and will not be able to connect to the internet’ Help?

  • Bravestar

    Million Thanks to you. Let me know if you need any help. You literally saved my A**

  • Bravestar

    Million Thanks to you. Let me know if you need any help. You literally saved my A**

  • Paocer95

    Thanks, works on samsung s2 GT-N7100 and mac book Mac OS X, 10.7.5

  • Paocer95

    Thanks, works on samsung s2 GT-N7100 and mac book Mac OS X, 10.7.5

  • kakokeko

    Great, thanks a lot. Works like charm !

  • kakokeko

    Using Galaxy Beam

  • kakokeko

    Great, thanks a lot. Works like charm !

  • kakokeko

    Using Galaxy Beam

  • vipul

    thanks man it really worked!!

  • vipul

    thanks man it really worked!!

  • Fordash

    Download file won’t open on Galaxy S4 with Android 4.3 operating system.

    • Xiang Ji

      Who told you to download the file on the phone dude… It’s meant to be installed on Mac lol.

  • Fordash

    Download file won’t open on Galaxy S4 with Android 4.3 operating system.

    • Xiang Ji

      Who told you to download the file on the phone dude… It’s meant to be installed on Mac lol.

  • Tayo Elegbede

    Wow! Thanks a bunch for this…Quite helpful on the first trial.

    BTW, I’m using the connection to post this right now. No more WI-FI, except I need to share my network with friends and enemies.

    Cheerios!

    With love from Nigeria.

  • Tayo Elegbede

    Wow! Thanks a bunch for this…Quite helpful on the first trial.

    BTW, I’m using the connection to post this right now. No more WI-FI, except I need to share my network with friends and enemies.

    Cheerios!

    With love from Nigeria.

  • .

    not working on xcover2?

  • .

    not working on xcover2?

  • ricardo nishijima

    thx… this work

  • ricardo nishijima

    thx… this work

  • AVW

    Thank you so much for this great tutorial. HoRNDIS works like a charm!

  • AVW

    Thank you so much for this great tutorial. HoRNDIS works like a charm!

  • babiy8

    Galaxy S3 LTE works on 10.9.4 . thank you!

  • babiy8

    Galaxy S3 LTE works on 10.9.4 . thank you!

  • Flavio Carrara

    Is it possible to do the reverse? I would like to share the Mac Ethernet through USB to my Nexus 5. Thank you.

    • Zero

      It’s possible to share internet from your mac, go to sharing -> internet sharing
      Mac can sharing internet to the port the phone is connected to, but whether the phone will recognise it and use the data is another thing. I usually use my Mac as an AP by board cast wifi for my phone.

    • Rafique Mohammed

      This post might be old but my reply might help others!

      Ofcz it is possible! You can even share your internet as WiFi so that all other devices can connect to your Mac.

      I am using MacMini. Do the following :

      1) Go to System Preferences -> Sharing -> internet sharing (don’t check teh checkbox)
      2) Select “Share your connection from” to “Ethernet” (since you are connect from ethernet cable)
      3) Select “Share your connection to” to “WiFi”
      4) Click on “WiFi options” button and set your wifi password
      5) Everything is done. Now check the Checkbox “Internet Sharing”

      Thats it! Search and connect from you mobile device or any other device 🙂

      PS: I usually do this in my office where my MacMini is connected using ethernet and system administrator don’t give me wifi password 😛

      • Rohan

        it is really good Thank you!!

  • Flavio Carrara

    Is it possible to do the reverse? I would like to share the Mac Ethernet through USB to my Nexus 5. Thank you.

    • Zero

      It’s possible to share internet from your mac, go to sharing -> internet sharing
      Mac can sharing internet to the port the phone is connected to, but whether the phone will recognise it and use the data is another thing. I usually use my Mac as an AP by board cast wifi for my phone.

  • Mudit

    Thanks man, my macbook’s wifi stopped working & this tip just saved the day…

  • Mudit

    Thanks man, my macbook’s wifi stopped working & this tip just saved the day…

  • http://frankpigeon.com/ Frank Pigeon

    worked on my Nex5 and my macbook pro. Thanks!!!

  • http://frankpigeon.com/ Frank Pigeon

    worked on my Nex5 and my macbook pro. Thanks!!!

  • mario

    The download file won’t open on my galaxy note 2.why??!!

  • mario

    The download file won’t open on my galaxy note 2.why??!!

  • VD

    Fucking awesome!

  • Tora

    This is great Advice. BUT I have a problem I have had my android phone
    tethered to my mac book many times before however this last week a
    couple of times it has said its connected (with the green light) in
    system prefrences but not been able to connect hmm so after a bit of
    fidlling turning computer and device on and off and resetting the
    settings it works again. This has happened more and more this last
    couple of days and now I have also had my mac book kind of scrol down a
    darkened page and demand to be turned off and on. I have just tried my
    boyfriends android device and the same thing has happened so I presume
    it is the mac with the problm. Any thoughts or tips on this?

  • Reginald Ahorlu

    I use a ghanian SIM in my unlocked HTC one X but I can neither WiFi thether, USB tether or Bluetooth tether my phone’s internet connection to my mac book pro, osX. Pls help

    Reginald frm Ghana

  • Mayuresh Kshirsagar

    I tried it on my Galaxy S5 and Macbook Pro 10.10.5 and it doesn’t work 🙁

  • Three Dots

    Well, I wrote an algorithm to play one of the board games named three dots. You will enjoy a lot playing it. You can not win in difficult mode. Give a try and learn more.

  • Preston

    downloaded and installed on my mac air 10.10.5 and then restarted and it works great. much better than wifi hotspotting. better latency and more consistent ping

  • Angelo David Collazo

    Thanks, MacTip, for the info. I went ahead and installed HoRNDIS. Unfortunately, although I see my Samsung Android in the Network list, it’s color is not green, but yellow. It says “Status: Connected” but it also says “Samsung_Android has a self-assigned IP address and will not be able to connect to the internet.” I notice that the Router and DNS Server numbers are blank. Do you know how I can fix this? Thanks so much.

  • Rohan

    works great! THANK YoU HoRNDIS! 🙂