AirPort problems in Leopard continue: Better fixes

AirPort issues continue in Leopard.

AirPort issues continue to be among the most frustrating for users of Mac OS X 10.5.x (Leopard) with permanent, universal solutions proving elusive. A thread on Apple's Discussion boards (one of several discussing Leopard AirPort problems) currently harbors more than 250 posts from users experiencing issues, and similar messages are steadily flowing into the MacFixIt inboxes.

A few reference reports:

  • "After upgrading to Leopard, I can no longer connect with my Airport Express Base Station. I have confirmed this on my original MacBook Pro (1st month of production), and my new 17" model I've tried every reasonable step to fix things but no go.
  • "I have a white dome Apple Airport (802.11g) and an Airport Express being used as a relay to extend the signal in my house. Under Tiger I had no problems with this setup. Now under Leopard my 17" 1.67 GHz Power Book G4 will not hold the signal from the Airport. It drops the signal about every 5 minutes. "It only does this when connected with the Express." If I use the Power
  • book in another room or at another location there are no doped signals. The bars in the menu bar icon turn grey. I turn airport off and on with the menu bar icon and it works again.
  • "My AL G4 12" Powerbook with a clean 10.5 install works much better closer to my wireless router. In the same room as the router I get very good throughput. Move into the next room (where I normally use it) and am unable to get a connection.

We've dedicated a section of our Mac OS X 10.5.x special report to AirPort issues, and many users are experiencing success with the solutions listed there. There are a few solutions that have risen above others in terms of effectiveness:

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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