Best way to enable Wi-Fi on older Macs + file sharing?

Slix

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 24, 2010
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Hey all!

I've been meaning to figure this out for a while but I looked online today and couldn't find a solution, as far as I can tell so I'm asking you guys.

I have a few iBooks and PowerBooks that don't have an AirPort Extreme card but have an original AirPort card. My current Wi-Fi base station is an AirPort Extreme (latest model, 802.11ac), and the Wi-Fi security is WPA/WPA2 Personal, according to the AirPort Utility. My i/PowerBooks cannot connect to this security and just give a "There was an error joining the AirPort network" error. I believe our older AirPort Extreme that we had before this one worked just fine, and had similar settings for the WPA/WPA 2 configuration.

From what I have read online it seems the newer AirPort cannot be reduced to the compatibility mode that is required for older machines like mine to connect to the network. I understand that, and honestly that's ok. My question is more about what I can do to let my Macs connect to Wi-Fi at home, and see other Macs on the network (for connection via file sharing or screen sharing). I have a few older AirPort Expresses. I know I could set up a separate network for them, but that doesn't allow me to see my other Macs on the network. Is there a way to bridge the network so they can see the other devices but connect on their own network? I also don't want my newer devices to connect to this older network if that's the best option here.

I also have a Mac Mini running 10.5 Server connected via Ethernet, but it also has an AirPort card inside. Could I do something with that to get it to see the other Macs from the PowerBooks?

Thanks for the help you guys! I'd love to get to use my PowerBook G4 Titanium on Wi-Fi again. :)
 
Last edited:

reukiodo

macrumors 6502
Nov 22, 2013
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Main Airport router should be set to router mode with 'home' name (as example) and wired to your cable/dsl modem
Old Airport router should be set to AP mode with 'home-old' name (as example) and wired to main Airport router

You can then connect all new devices to the main network name (home, in my example) and all older devices to the old network (home-old in my example) and all devices should be able to see all other devices.
 

eyoungren

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Aug 31, 2011
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What @reukiodo is saying is that you're turning your old Airport router into a WiFi bridge.

If you don't have the old router any more you can do this with any old router you can conjure up.

You just turn off DHCP, assign the router a static IP address outside of the range of addresses that your main router uses and connect the older Macs to that older router.

You can probably get away with assigning the same network name to both routers as well.
 
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Slix

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@reukiodo @eyoungren Thank you so much! That's exactly what I needed to do. I didn't want to go messing with things without knowing the full set up first haha.

I'm using an 802.11n AirPort Express first generation (that's also being used for AirPlay) for this. I also realized it's not the WPA/WPA2 setting that changed, it's the radio mode: 802.11n (b/g compatible) is what's needed for older AirPort cards. The newer AirPort Extreme doesn't let you change that. My last question is, if they have the same network name, would my newer devices connect to them by accident too? What can I do to prevent that other than changing the name? I also set it to a Hidden Network.
 

eyoungren

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Aug 31, 2011
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@reukiodo @eyoungren Thank you so much! That's exactly what I needed to do. I didn't want to go messing with things without knowing the full set up first haha.

I'm using an 802.11n AirPort Express first generation (that's also being used for AirPlay) for this. I also realized it's not the WPA/WPA2 setting that changed, it's the radio mode: 802.11n (b/g compatible) is what's needed for older AirPort cards. The newer AirPort Extreme doesn't let you change that. My last question is, if they have the same network name, would my newer devices connect to them by accident too? What can I do to prevent that other than changing the name? I also set it to a Hidden Network.
Yeah, that's kind of the thing.

If both networks are in close proximity then it's probably best to name the BSID of the older router differently. If they are far enough away (say, separate ends of the house) then naming them the same means you can move between them seamlessly without having to reconnect. Your computer will just pick up the signal of one or the other depending on where it is in the house.
 
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