In this article, we go over the most typical use cases for WiFi scanner apps. We also describe the most important feature a WiFi scanner app can’t be without. Finally, we recommend five excellent WiFi scanner apps so you can optimize your home wireless network right after you finish reading this article.
We live in the era of wireless communication. Most modern electronic devices are WiFi-enabled, constantly sending and receiving packets of information to offer users interesting and useful features, to stay up to date, and to help manufacturers learn more about the likes and dislikes of their customers. Likewise, we have gotten used to accessing the web and conversing with our friends and family from anywhere and at any time.
Even though our lives now depend on wireless Internet access and its quality, we seldom bother to do anything to improve it. We defeatedly accept having a strong WiFi signal on one side of the bedroom but not on the other side. And we don’t even consider that online videos could load just a fast when our neighbors are at work as when they are at home, also streaming high-definition movies and TV shows.
Wireless scanners are an antidote to this passive attitude. They show what exactly must be improved to achieve shorter loading times and better coverage. Some do this for free, while others cost money. Some target home users, while others are designed for network professionals and IT experts. But despite their differences, all wireless scanners make it easier to understand why it sometimes takes just a few steps in the wrong direction to go from five bars to only one or none.
If you’re currently unsatisfied with the performance of your home WiFi, or if you would like to extend your WiFi coverage so that no room in your home is without WiFi, you need a WiFi scanner app. More specifically, you need a WiFi scanner app that fits your needs and your expertise level. In the next section, we cover some of the most important features that every good wireless scanner app should have.
A good wireless scanner app is easy to use. Just because a wireless scanner app has advanced features aimed at professionals and experts doesn’t mean that its user interface has to be grossly outdated and mindbogglingly unintuitive. When developers take the lazy road and force users to study lengthy manuals just because they couldn’t make everything obvious without them, it says a lot about their attitude toward their customers and toward the software they are making.
A good wireless scanner app supports all modern WiFi standards. While your home router may have a yellowish tint due to its age, Wi-Fi Alliance has been actively improving the WiFi technology to achieve wider ranges, fewer problems with interference, and faster speeds.
Just because your router doesn’t support the latest WiFi standard doesn’t mean there aren’t other routers nearby that do. With a good wireless scanner app, you will be able to detect them all and see how they could affect the performance of your wireless network.
Finally, a good wireless scanner app is developed by a team of experienced developers who stand behind their product and frequently release updates and bugfixes to make it even better. With these criteria in mind, we’ve select five WiFi scanner macOS apps for your convenience.
A capable WiFi scanner Mac app can help you diagnose WiFi-related issues and optimize your network for maximum performance, but how do you know which apps are the best? Here we’re describing several popular WiFi scanner apps for macOS, including the NetSpot Mac WiFi scanner.
NetSpot is the best WiFi scanner app currently available. Combining beautiful and intuitive user interface with advanced features, NetSpot has become the favorite wireless scanner of hundreds of thousands of home and professional users alike from around the world.
NetSpot features two scanning modes: Discover and Survey.
Use the Discover mode when you need a quick snapshot of nearby wireless networks, and use the Survey mode to create a visual heatmap that illustrates the strength of your wireless network.
iStumbler is a popular wireless scanner tool for macOS which is able to find WiFi networks, Bluetooth devices, and Bonjour services. It supports both the 2.4 GHz spectrum as well as the increasingly more popular 5 GHz spectrum.
When you perform a WiFi scan using iStumbler, you can instantly see the network type and encryption status of each WiFi network and display signal and noise graphed over time for all networks.
AirRadar uses GPS technology to create a constantly updated map of wireless networks that you can use to always find the strongest signal no matter where you are. AirRadar encourages its users to leave the app open on a laptop while walking around the city. As you walk with your laptop running AirRadar, the app detects all open wireless networks, remembers their location, and saves the information to an internal database.
When you later need to access the Internet, you can simply fire up AirRadar and look for the closest wireless network around you.
Wi-Fi Inspector from Xirrus is designed to provide real-time monitoring of wireless network status, and help ensure you are getting the highest performance available from your wireless network. The app runs on both macOS and Windows, and it supports the latest Wi-Fi standards, including 802.11ac Wave 1 and Wave 2 technology.
Some of the more notable features of Wi-Fi Inspector include the ability to detect rogue APs and the ability to perform Wi-Fi site surveys.
WiFi Explorer is a simple and intuitive WiFi discovery app for macOS. The app gathers configuration and capability information about all the networks it discovers and presents it on an easy-to-use, intuitive user interface.
WiFi Explorer allows users to quickly find the best channel for their wireless network and determine which nearby networks could be causing performance issues.
Not many users know that macOS comes with its own built-in wireless diagnostics tool. Even though this tool has a rather unimaginative name, Wireless Diagnostics, it’s surprisingly capable and easy to use.
You can access Wireless Diagnostics by holding the option key and clicking the WiFi icon on the menu bar. Then, select the Open Wireless Diagnostics option and follow the diagnostics wizard to detect common problems with your wireless network.
You can also open the Window menu and select the Scan option to collect useful information about nearby networks, just to give you an example of what else Wireless Diagnostics can do. The Scan window automatically displays the most suitable 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels, making performance optimization easy.
WiFi Scanner by AccessAgility is a paid macOS WiFi scanner that targets everyone from professionals interested in advanced technical information to homeowners who want to optimize their WiFi to achieve better performance and coverage.
This Mac WiFi scanner has been around for a while, and some earlier reviews are fairly critical, bringing the average review score down. The good news is that the developers have stepped up their game, and the latest version has been receiving much more positive feedback.
Still, WiFi Scanner is not nearly as polished as the best WiFi scanner for Mac, NetSpot, but it does have some nice features, such as the ability to display details about devices connected to your network.
There are certain apps that all Mac users should install, and OSX WiFi scanners are among them. With the help of apps like NetSpot, you can be your own network administrator and fix common WiFi issues in minutes—not days or weeks. The best WiFi scanner Mac apps are designed with usability in mind, so you don’t actually need to have the same skills or technical knowledge a professional network administrator has. All you need is a MacBook.
The best WiFi scanner for Mac apps are exceptionally easy to use, and some, like NetSpot, even automatically collect information about surrounding networks. We recommend you use WiFi scanners on a MacBook so that you can easily carry it around from place to place to take multiple measurements.
You can access the built-in WiFi scanner on any Mac by holding the Option key, clicking the WiFi icon on the menu bar, and selecting the Open Wireless Diagnostics option.
Apple develops a Mac OS-specific WiFi discovery tool called Wireless Diagnostics and distributes it for free as part of its operating system.
Here are the top 7 best WiFi scanners based on our research and experience:
Note that some of the best WiFi scanner apps for macOS, such as NetSpot, also work as WiFi scanner Windows apps.
If you are feeling that your WiFi connection should be better than it currently is, then you will definitely appreciate a good WiFi scanner app. Choose an app that fits your needs, costs according to its functionality, and is user-friendly and comprehensive enough for any level of user.
A great wireless scanner should be well-advanced yet easy to understand and operate for any level of a user — for professionals and beginners alike.
A great wireless scanner is expected to offer versatile features and support all modern WiFi standards of course. The last but in no way the least is a developer that stands behind the app — you want a wireless scanner that is consistently updated and has a high-quality tech support available.
There are two modes in NetSpot: Discover and Survey. The latter one is especially good for visualizing the signal strength (and weaknesses :) of your wireless network.