• #1 NetSpot
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews

Top 7 Best WiFi Scanner Apps for macOS

WiFi scanner apps for macOS can help you diagnose WiFi-related issues and optimize your network for maximum performance.
top choice
  • NetSpot
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews

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.

Why Should I Use a WiFi Scanner App?

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 show what exactly must be improved to achieve shorter loading times and better coverage

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.

What Features Should a Good Wireless Scanner App 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

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.

Top 7 Best WiFi Scanner Apps

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.


#1
NetSpot — is the best WiFi scanner app currently available.
#2
iStumbler — is a popular wireless scanner tool for macOS which is able to find WiFi networks, Bluetooth devices, and Bonjour services.
#3
AirRadar — uses GPS technology to create a constantly updated map of wireless networks .
#4
Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector — is designed to provide real-time monitoring of wireless network status.
#5
WiFi Explorer — is a simple and intuitive WiFi discovery app for macOS.
#6
Mac Wireless Diagnostics Tool — is surprisingly capable and easy to use.
#7
WiFi Scanner — is a paid macOS WiFi scanner that targets everyone.

choice #1
Available for MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews
  • 500K
  • Users

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.

  • Discover mode

    Reflects the rate of data transfer from user to the Internet.
  • Survey mode

    Available on any MacBook with macOS and PC laptop on Windows.

NetSpot features two scanning modes: Discover and Survey.

NetSpot’s Discover Mode

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Advanced features
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Compatible with macOS and Windows
  • Translated into multiple languages

choice #2
Available for macOS
  • Not Enough Ratings

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.

iStumbler

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Can see Bluetooth and Bonjour devices
  • Support for 2.4 & 5 GHz Spectrum analysis
  • No longer actively developed
  • The last version was released in 2017
  • Doesn’t officially support M1 Macs

choice #3
Available for macOS
  • Not Enough Ratings

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.

AirRadar

When you later need to access the Internet, you can simply fire up AirRadar and look for the closest wireless network around you.

Pros and Cons

  • Uses GPS technology
  • Makes finding open networks easy
  • Graphing capabilities
  • No heatmapping functionality
  • Expensive lifetime license

choice #4
Available for macOS
  • Not Enough Ratings

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.

Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Real-time monitoring
  • Support for 802.11ac Wave 1 and Wave 2 technology
  • Not readily available since Cambium acquired Xirrus

choice #5
Available for macOS
  • Not Enough Ratings

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

WiFi Explorer allows users to quickly find the best channel for their wireless network and determine which nearby networks could be causing performance issues.

Pros and Cons

  • Well-designed user interface
  • Lots of positive user reviews
  • Insightful recommendations
  • No heatmapping functionality

choice #6
Available for macOS
  • Not Enough Ratings

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.

Wireless Diagnostics

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Included in macOS
  • Wizard-style diagnostics
  • Automatically recommends the best channel
  • WiFi scanner Mac with a free price
  • Lacks more advanced features

choice #7
Compatibility with OS X 10.9 or later, 64-bit processor
  • Not Enough Ratings

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.

WiFi scanner

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.

Pros and Cons

  • Native M1 support
  • Regularly updated
  • Can tell you who’s on your network
  • Poor user reviews
  • Lacks polish

Conclusion

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.

SO, WE RECOMMEND
NetSpot
Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews
  • #1
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting

  • 500K
  • Users
  • 6
  • Years
  • Cross-platform
  • Mac/Windows

FAQ

How do I use a WiFi Scanner on Mac?

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.

Where is the WiFi scanner on a Mac?

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.

Which WiFi discovery tool is built specifically for the Apple Mac OS?

Apple develops a Mac OS-specific WiFi discovery tool called Wireless Diagnostics and distributes it for free as part of its operating system.

What are the Best WiFi Scanner Apps?

Here are the top 7 best WiFi scanners based on our research and experience:

  1. NetSpot is our favorite WiFi scanner because it combines advanced features with an easy-to-use interface.
  2. iStumbleris great for discovering Bluetooth devices and Bonjour services.
  3. AirRadar uses GPS technology to create a constantly updated map of wireless networks.
  4. Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector makes real-time monitoring of WiFi status easy.
  5. WiFi Explorer is a simple and intuitive WiFi discovery app for macOS.
  6. Mac Wireless Diagnostics Tool is included for free with macOS.
  7. WiFi Scanner has the ability to display details about devices connected to your network.

Note that some of the best WiFi scanner apps for macOS, such as NetSpot, also work as WiFi scanner Windows apps.

Why Should I Use a WiFi Scanner App?

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.

What Features Should a Good Wireless Scanner App Have?

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.

How can NetSpot help illustrate the strength of your wireless network?

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.

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Read next in All about Wi-Fi

If you want to get more information about Wi-Fi, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi routers, the best apps for wireless networking, WiFi signal, etc.
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Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.