Quick View Detailed WiFi Network Information In Mac OS X

Not a day goes by when I don’t discover something new about Mac OS X. Its full of surprise functionality, each small detail aimed at making the life of Mac users just a bit more easier everyday.

I discovered this nifty trick courtesy Calling All Geeks, which is a nice portal for short tips/hacks or tutorials.

Normally when you click on the Airport icon in your status bar, you get a list of available Wi-Fi networks, with an visual indicator of their signal strength and a padlock depending upon the fact whether a particular network is open or encrypted. This is usually enough information, but sometimes you want to view more stats about the networks.

To do this, the usual way is to open up System Profiler (In /Applications/Utilities), go to the Airport tab, and then look at the details, something like this:

While this is a complete view of all the details about a network, there is a quicker way to view the advanced details of the currently joined network. All you have to do is hold down the Option key on your keyboard and then click the Airport icon. The stats for the currently joined network are now displayed inline.

The details displayed are:

  • PHY Mode: Shows the wireless standard of the network. Would be 802.11a/b/g/n.
  • BSSID: This is the MAC address of the wireless router or access point you are connected to.
  • Channel: The wireless channel that your router is configured to broadcast on. Usually a value between 1-13.
  • Security: The type of encryption used by the network. Could be open, WEP, WPA, WPA2.
  • RSSI: This is your signal strength. The perfect strength is 0. So -100 means a weaker signal than -50.
  • Transmit Rate: This is the max network speed available with the current signal strength. The data rate is measured in Mbps.

(Source: Calling All Geeks)

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