Few apps available on the Mac App Store get better ratings than WiFi Explorer and with good reason. It’s my go to tool to find or troubleshoot Wi-Fi networks on a Mac.
Wi-Fi is everywhere these days, but not all Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Wi-Fi networks are created equal. For example, my aging MacBook Pro with Retina display does not pick up all the nearby Wi-Fi networks as my much larger iMac with Retina 5k display. Here’s what WiFi Explorer does that makes tracking and troubleshooting Wi-Fi networks less of a chore.
In a nutshell that’s exactly what WiFi Explorer does. It uses your Mac’s built-in antenna system and scans for nearby Wi-Fi networks so you can see which ones are strongest, weakest, and gather useful details from each. What you get with a single scan that takes only a few seconds is a way to troubleshoot a troublesome network, identify Wi-Fi channel conflicts and configuration issues, and that can set you on the road to better Wi-Fi network performance.
That makes WiFi Explorer perfect for a home or small office with one or more Wi-Fi networks and multiple devices connected to each one. WiFi Explorer, on the appropriate Mac, can find most nearby IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac networks, including 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands, and 20, 40, 80 and 160 MHz channels.
Setup and configuration, considering how complex Wi-Fi can be at times, is almost non-existent, though more granular features can be turned on in Preferences. For example, we recently moved and I noticed that download speeds to our internet connection seemed slower than our previous location.
WiFI Explorer found half a dozen other Wi-Fi networks using the same Channel 7 as our Wi-Fi station, so simply switching the Wi-Fi base station to channel 1 eliminated the conflicts and sped up connections.
The app gathers far more information about each nearby Wi-Fi network than most of us need, but you can select which columns of data to display, and results can be exported or saved to be used later.
Also useful is WiFi Scanner which costs a bit more but lists a bit more information and has a built-in speed test device. And, speaking of speed tests, what I use to check each device on each network is SpeedTest which finds a nearby server to test, displays Ping test results, as well as average upload and download speeds. The only negative is that SpeedTest uses Flash.