The good news is that there are now tools for both Mac and Windows computers that can help you do something about it. Here are some of the most important influencers of WiFi strength and introduces NetSpot, along with a couple of alternatives, as the best WiFi signal strength app for Mac users.
There are three main reasons to measure WiFi signal strength:
In all three cases, you want to not only know how fast your maximum download and upload speed is but also see where the WiFi signal is the strongest and where it is the weakest. Instead of spending a lot of money on a high-end wireless router, you may find out that you just need to move your existing router elsewhere to fix all your connectivity issues.
You may also find out that the expensive router you’ve purchased, expecting it to perform far better than your previous router, is actually not much better.
Before you measure your WiFi signal strength using a WiFi signal strength app, you should understand what influences WiFi signal strength so you know how to interpret the data generated by the app.
Unlike many other similar apps, NetSpot features a beautiful user interface that has seen a lot of polish. This makes NetSpot perfect for home users who are not well-versed in networking terminology but would still want to take the matter into their own hands and improve their home WiFi signal strength.
NetSpot features two distinct wireless network analysis modes, which together cover virtually all wireless network analysis use cases. The first mode is called Discover, and it provides a quick and convenient overview of all detectable wireless networks, including networks that have been purposefully hidden.
The second mode is called Survey, and its purpose is to create visual wireless coverage maps to highlight the areas of weak signal.
IStumbler is designed to provide information about nearby WiFi networks, Bluetooth devices, and Bonjour services. It features a powerful Oscium’s WiPry 5x WiFi spectrum analyzer and comes with the ability to debug wireless networks with RF Tools on macOS.
Some of the more basic functions of iStumbler includes the instant discovery of visible wireless networks with complete information, Bonjour inspector that shows detailed information including network addresses and service keys, and the ability to display the location of discovered WiFi networks, among other things. If iStumbler sounds somewhat complicated, it’s because it is, but it’s also well worth learning.
This free and open source tool for macOS is a continuation of the original KisMac, which was a highly capable wireless network discovery tool for Mac with a wide range of features, most of which were appealing primarily to advanced users and professional networking experts.
KisMac2 features a new and polished user interface that makes it accessible to more types of users than ever before, yet it supports all the features that made the original KisMac so popular, such as the ability to reveal hidden SSIDs, area maps of network coverage, and the support for AppleScript. Of course, KisMac2 also has an accurate WiFi strength test functionality and many other features that home users and networking professionals alike can appreciate.
Wifiner is a relatively simple WiFi signal strength app that doesn’t attempt to do too much at the same time. Instead, it focuses on helping users perform WiFi strength tests to reveal quality-affecting issues. Wifiner turns the data it collects into easy-to-understand visual heatmaps that clearly highlight all problematic areas.
In total, Wifiner offers 11 different heatmap visualizations, allowing you to understand your network in every way possible. Performing a WiFi signal strength text with Wifiner is straightforward since all you need to do is load a map of your area and collect data by walking around from room to room in a zigzag pattern. You can then export the map you’ve created as a PDF or CSV file.
WiFi Explorer is a polished app whose purpose is to help professionals and regular home users alike test WiFi signal strength. Measuring WiFi signal strength with WiFi explorer is easy because the app does all the heavy lifting and provides full insight into WiFi networks with its intuitive user interface.
Besides simple WiFi signal tests, WiFi explorer can also find best channels, determine a more suitable router placement, identify conflicts with overlapping networks, and more.
Even though the basic version of WiFi explorer can do a lot, it offers nowhere near as many features as WiFi Explorer Pro. For example, the basic version doesn’t support passive scanning, and it also can’t organize networks by name or access point.
There’s more than one method for measuring WiFi signal strength on Mac, and each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Knowing multiple methods can help you address different situations in the best way possible. Let’s discuss the ones you should definitely know about.
You probably already know that you can check which WiFi network you’re connected to by clicking the WiFi icon in the menu bar. What you may not know is that the humble WiFi icon can display a lot more information than it may seem at first, including detailed WiFi strength data. Here’s what you need to do:
An RSSI value of -55 should be good enough for most users and online activities, and the higher this value is (closer to zero), the better. For example, my router is located right next to my Mac, and my RSSI value currently sits at -27, which is excellent.
In some situations, it’s useful to know how to test WiFi straight using Mac Terminal. Why? Because then you troubleshoot WiFi performance issues even without a graphical user interface, such as when connected to a remote machine over SSH. To measure WiFi signal strength in Mac Terminal, you need a command-line tool like AirPort.
In addition to fairly featureless native system features and clunky command-line tools, there are also third-party WiFi signal strength test Mac apps like NetSpot, which enables even regular home users to gain a deep understanding of their WiFi environment. To check Mac WiFi signal strength using NetSpot:
You can then study the data collected by NetSpot to determine which networks are the stronger, which use the same channel, and which are poorly secured, among other things. With NetSpot, you can also check Windows WiFi signal strength and create interactive heat maps (learn how to check WiFi signal strength Windows 10).
WiFi signal strength is commonly expressed using a value referred to as RSSI, which stands for received signal strength indicator.
This value is a measurement of the power present in a received radio signal, and it basically tells you how much signal strength has been lost from the time the signal left your WiFi router and until the signal reached your Mac.
Since you want to lose as much signal strength as possible, you also want to see small RSSI values (closer to zero, the better). Here are basic RSSI guidelines:
Now that you know how to check WiFi signal strength with the best WiFi signal strength apps, it’s time we explain how you can use the information provided by them to make your wireless network perform better.
Now that you know how to increase WiFi signal strength, it’s time for you to put your new skills to good use. Make surety measure WiFi signal strength using Mac software like NetSpot to verify that you’ve successfully achieved the desired results.
We can think of three main reasons to measure WiFi signal strength right away:
There are several factors that can affect the WiFi signal strength:
There are some excellent WiFi analysis solutions macOS users can choose from. Here are the popular choices:
You can easily check WiFi strength on Mac using a WiFi analyzer app like NetSpot, which makes it easy to collect and interpret detailed information about surrounding WiFi networks.
Most experts agree that an RSSI value of -55 is the lowest acceptable WiFi signal strength. Of course, the closer your RSSI value is to zero the better.
Yes, you can use an app like NetSpot to easily check WiFi signal strength with a few simple clicks and without any expert knowledge required. You can learn how to check WiFi signal strength on Mac using NetSpot in this article.