Fixes for Leopard's AirPort issues

While we wait for Mac OS X 10.5.3.

While we wait for Mac OS X 10.5.3, which will "resolve AirPort connection issue(s)" according to documentation read by developers with access to pre-release builds, there are several fixes that can work to effectively resolve wireless issues that continue to plague users of Mac OS X 10.5.x.

The most recent report of serious wireless connectivity issues under Leopard comes from MacFixIt reader George Hazelwood, who points to a thread on Apple's Discussion boards in which users describe severely degraded signal strength after upgrading. Other serious issues we've reported in the past include one where AirPort cards are not recognized, disallowing access to wireless Internet services and one involving extremely slow throughput for AirPort connections. Meanwhile an Apple Discussions thread describing an issue where the AirPort connection repeatedly drops currently has more than 500 posts.

Here's a list of fixes that might provide some relief until Apple enacts code-level changes:

If your AirPort card is not recognized in Leopard Navigate to /System/Library/Extensions and drag the following files (if they exist) to the Desktop or another location outside the System folder (you will need to hold down the Command key while dragging the file to move it if you are not an administrator):

  • AppleAirport2.kext
  • AppleAirportFW.kext

Do not delete AppleAirPort.kext.

Restart your Mac and check for restoration of AirPort connectivity

If throughput is extremely slow, or signal stregth is weak, or the connection repeatedly drops Try these:

  • Turn off IPv6 for Macs and AirPort Base stations Turning off IPv6 can sometimes have a beneficial effect on wireless connections, particularly with AirPort Base stations. In order to change this setting, open System Preferences then the Network pane and click on your currently used interface (Ethernet, AirPort, etc.). Click on "Advanced," then TCP/IP settings for the interface -- at the bottom if you see a menu which says 'Configure IPv6...' click that and set it to "Off." Press the Apply Now button. Turning off IPv6 can also eliminate some issues (including frequent dropouts) with Airport Express audio streaming.
  • Change IPv6 setting on AirPort Extreme router (For AirPort Extreme 802.11n Base Stations) Launch the AirPort Utility (located in /Applications/Utilities and select your Base station from the left column, then select "Manual Setup." Click "Advanced" at the top of the window, and from the "IPv6 Mode" menu, select "Link-local only." Click the "Update" button.
  • Downgrade firmware on Base station (For AirPort Extreme 802.11n Base Stations) In AirPort Utility, select your Base Station, then select "Base Station" from the menubar, and choose "Upload Firmware." From the "Upload Firmware" menu, select "7.2" then press "OK."

For more fixes, see our Mac OS X 10.5.x Special Report and our wireless troubleshooting tutorial.

Feedback? Late-breakers@macfixit.com.

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