You don’t have to do a full survey to get a quick snapshot of nearby Wi-Fi networks. The Discover Mode lets you analyze surrounding areas in real-time. Note: the NetSpot versions purchased in the Mac App Store do not include Discover Mode.
Launch NetSpot and click Discover on the top-left of the NetSpot window. Wait for the data to start coming in. During the scan you have several options:
- To stop the scan, click Pause in the lower-left corner. Click Resume to continue scanning.
- To adjust the scan interval (5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds), use the drop-down menu at the bottom of the window. Your preferred scan interval time can be set by going to NetSpot > Preferences and clicking on the Discover tab.
- Click on the column name to sort the data by that heading.
- Not all columns are shown by default. To configure the columns, right-click on the table header.
- To filter displayed networks, type their names or the BSSID of the AP in the “Filter networks” field on the bottom-right.
- To clear inactive networks, go to the top menu bar and select Discover > Clear Inactive Networks. This will only remove inactive networks — active networks will continue to scan. If you would like to automatically clear inactive networks after a certain period of time, you can set them to clear after 1, 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes by going to NetSpot > Preferences and clicking on the Discover tab.
- To reset all the survey data, go to the top menu bar and select Discover > Reset Wireless Discovery. This will erase all networks from the scan and all historical data will be lost. If you would like to automatically erase data after a certain period of time, you can set it to clear after 12 or 24 hours by going to NetSpot > Preferences and clicking on the Discover tab.
- PRO and Enterprise users can export the data as a spreadsheet (.csv file). Click the Export button at the top of the window. Each network’s data is exported in a separate CSV file with its historical values by time for further processing.
How to View Network Details
Clicking on Details in the lower-left corner can provide even more information.
- First, select the network(s) that you wish to see more detail on, either by checking the box to the left of the network SSID, or by right-clicking anywhere on the table and choosing a selection method from the right-click menu.
- Next, set any AP custom colors, if desired. Each AP is automatically assigned a color, but you can change that by right-clicking on the AP name and selecting Set Color…
- Then click the Details button.
- All selected networks will be shown in the Details view, easily identified by their assigned color. By checking and unchecking the boxes, you can change what is viewed in the Details window. Clicking on a colored line on any of the graphs displayed in the Details window will automatically select the corresponding network in the main Discover window.
- The Details pop-up window has four tabs that show the following:
- Signal & Noise. The signal and noise levels are shown in real-time as a graph. Any network that you click on in the main Discover window (so that its row is highlighted in blue) will be highlighted on the graph as well. Drag the bar at the bottom of the graph to move backwards in time. Hold down the Shift key to scroll with your touchpad or mouse wheel. If the “Autoscroll” box is checked, the graph will move automatically to show the most recent time on the right.
- Tabular Data: The signal and noise levels are shown in a table. Select the network you wish to view from the drop-down menu at the top of the table. If the “Autoscroll” box is checked, the table will move automatically to show the most recent time at the top.
- Channels 2.4 GHz: The selected networks broadcasting at 2.4 GHz are shown, as well as the range of channels that they cover. This allows you to see where channels are overlapping. By default, the “Show average value for inactive networks” is checked. So any currently inactive networks will be shown at their average known values. If you uncheck the box, inactive networks will not be shown at all. Inactive networks are represented by dotted lines, while active ones are solid.
- Channels 5 GHz: The selected networks broadcasting at 5 GHz are shown, as well as the range of channels that they cover. The rest of the information is the same as the 2.4 GHz tab explained above.
Network information provided
The following information is available for each detected network:
- SSID – network name (the icon next to the name represents the type of network and security it has — the small padlock icon means a password is required, the computer icon means it is an ad hoc network)
- BSSID – MAC address
- Alias – the AP alias, double-click to add one
- Channel – 1, 6, 11, etc. Since version 2.2.460, NetSpot also lists additional channel, it’s important to know it, as it actually influences the interference parameters. If you see channel listed as X+1, the channel is expanded towards a larger number, if it’s something like X-1, it’s been reduced.
- Channel width – 20, 40 or 80MHz. This column is hidden by default.
- Frequency – the channel base frequency
- Band – 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz
- Security Type – WEP, WPA, WPA2, etc.
- Vendor – access point or router manufacturer
- Type (hidden by default) – network type: can be either “managed” (a regular wireless network with a router) or “ad-hoc” (computer-to-computer connection, can be created in Wi-Fi menu, natively on OS X)
- Mode – 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Level (SNR) – Your Signal-to-Noise Ratio level, with higher numbers being better
- Signal level (current) – numbers closer to zero are better. If the value is more than 0, most possibly it’s incorrect.
- Signal level percentage – 100% being the best
- Signal level (average) – average level over the length of the scan
- Signal level (maximum) – maximum level registered during the scan
- Signal level (minimum) – minimum level registered during the scan
- Noise level (current) – numbers closer to zero are worse
- Noise level percentage – 100% being the worst
- Last seen – when that network was last detected since you started scanning