Podcast: How to Use Apple Airport Utility 6.0

Welcome to this month’s training podcast which introduces Apple’s Airport Utility.

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Hi, i’m Russ from Amsys Training, and welcome to another edition from our podcast series.

Today, I’d like to take you through an overview of the latest version of Apple’s Airport Utility software.

Airport Utility 6 Iairport utility 6ntroduction:

AirPort Utility 6 released in 2012, provided a new overhaul of the utility, so in this podcast we will show you how to setup an Apple Wireless Base station, and how to use the Airport Utility, with an overview of its main features.

Airport Utility 6 Overview:

You will learn how to set up the base station and configure the Network & base station name, and how to add passwords and security to your wireless network.

We will then see how to configure the Base station to receive network and internet details.

Lastly, we will go through some of the additional advanced settings you can configure, such as how to set the base station to provide services, share usb hard drives and printers.

We will also show you the new iOS airport utility, so you can manage your base stations using your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

Airport Utility 6:

To kick off, let’s look at what you need to get started.

Initial Setup and Configuration

Firstly, make sure your computer or iOS device has WIFI connect-ability and that WI-FI is turned on, so you can access your new wireless network.

Airport Utility for Mac or iOS should be installed on your device. Browse the app store for Airport Utility if you don’t already have it. Airport Utility for Mac requires Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 or later. Airport Utility for iOS requires iOS 5.0 or later.

Secondly, you will need either an Apple Airport Express, Apple Airport Extreme base Station or Apple Time Capsule.

This will be the ‘sender’ and ‘receiver’ of your wireless communication.

To decide which Apple Wi-Fi device is the right one for you, take a wander over to Apple’s Wi-fi section of their website at www.apple.com/wifi/.

Finally, make sure you have a fully working and configured ‘WIRED’ network.

You will need this to be able to attach your Airport Base Station, via an ethernet cable, to your existing network so you can access existing network services such as internet and file sharing.

Once you have your hardware ready, you can configure your base station by opening the Apple Airport Utility.

This is located inside a Mac’s Utilities folder.

The Entry Screen will display any available Wireless Base stations which your computer has found over your network.

As you can see from the example, current base stations are listed underneath your internet connection, showing their current Base Station name and base station model.

When you use an Apple Base station for the first time, Or, you have reset the base station settings, the Base Station name will always show the last 6 digits of the wireless MAC address (also known as the Airport ID). To find new base stations to configure, select the ‘Other Airport Base Stations’ option in the top left of the utility and select the mac address that relates to your new base station.

To find the Mac Address of your Apple Base Station, find the label on the underside of your device and there should be a 12 digit ID labelled ‘Airport ID’. The last 6 digits of this Airport ID should relate to the new base station offered by the Airport Utility.

You can also just select the default name of the new base station from your Wi-Fi menu if you only have one new base station to configure which will also load up the Airport Utility for you.

Once you select the new base station, the utility will start up the setup assistant and assess your existing network to give you the options on how to best configure your new base station.

In this example with a current base station already configured on the network, the setup assistant asks if you would like to extend this existing network using the new base station. This can be useful for extending the range of your wireless network by joining multiple base stations together.

For now, we will look at setting up a new wireless network, so we will select ‘Other options’ to see the full choices available.

You can see here that there is an option to restore a base station’s previous settings which is useful for troubleshooting any wireless problems or simply if you want to wipe the base station’s settings.

Main Features of Airport Utility 6

Here we are asked to give the base station a name and password.
The Network name will be the name clients will discover when they browse for wireless networks. The Base Station name will be the name Airport Utility will show for this base station.

I have chosen NOT to give the base station a single password, so that for security reasons, the wireless network password and administrator password are different.

After clicking NEXT the assistant will verify the incoming connection to your base station and give you a graphical warning if there is no internet connection responding.

Internet and Network Configuration

Once the internet connection into your base station is working, the assistant will complete the setup.

Updating the Base Station

On clicking done, the base station should appear with it’s configured base station name in the list of configured base stations.

The red warning here flags that there is 1 alert notification regarding this base station. Clicking on the base station will reveal the details.

The red warning here flags that there is a firmware update available for this base station.

You can also see here that for a configured base station, selecting the base station will give you a pop up containing the base stations’ network name, IP address, hardware serial number, current firmware version and the mac addresses of the currently connected wireless clients.

Clicking the ‘update’ button will download and install the latest firmware to your device.
This is recommended before you fine tune your settings and start using your base station.

Advanced Settings: (Networking)

By selecting your base station and clicking the ‘edit’ button, you can now manually configure additional settings for your base station, as well as changing the initial settings configured by the setup assistant.

You can see here that as well as changing the base station’s name and password, there is an option here for configuring iCloud’s back to my mac feature, so you can access the base station’s services from any computer using the same Apple IDs that are registered with your base station.

The internet tab allows you to configure the incoming network connection to your base station, over the WAN Ethernet port. The setup assistant will by default, configure this to DHCP, however you can configure a Static IP here if you desire.

The wireless tab allows you to tweak the wireless connection that the base station will offer to clients. Here you can change between offering a new network, and extending an existing network as well as the encryption method enforced on the wireless password.

Advanced Settings: (Networking – Guest Network)

Base stations made since 2009 support a nice feature known as the Guest Network.
A guest network reserves a portion of your Internet connection for “guests,” which are wireless clients that can join your guest network and connect to the Internet without accessing your private network.
 Guest network users do not see shared printers or any shared Time Capsule or AirPort disks.

Advanced Settings: (Networking – Simultaneous Dual-Band)

The ‘Wireless options’ button offers some great additional features such as Simultaneous dual-band.
The newer 2009 and later base stations can be configured to create two separate, yet connected wireless networks: one on the 2.4 GHz band for 802.11b/g clients, and one on the 5 GHz band for 802.11a/n clients. This means you can offer the same wired network over the 2 wireless bands at the same time, to optimise clients wireless connection.

You can also create a hidden network so that the wireless name is not advertised to clients browsing Wi-Fi networks, and enhance the performance of the wireless connection by modifying the Radio mode depending on the devices that are using your base station.
Changing the channel can help improve the reliability of your wireless network, if there are other wireless networks in the same area as yours.

Advanced Settings: (Networking – IP & Access Control)

Finally, the network tab will allow you to configure what the wireless network offers. Bridge mode will allow the base station just to relay the wired network that is coming in through your Wan Ethernet port.
But you can allow your base station to configure DHCP to the wireless network, instead of relying on the wired network to do this.
Enabling ‘Access control’, allows you to choose which clients can connect to your base station, by specifying their WiFi card mac addresses. This can be fine tuned to specifying the times that they can connect.

Advanced Settings: (Sharing Hard Drives)

With AirPort Disk built into your Airport base station, you can securely share an external USB hard drive with all the users on your network, whether they’re using a mac or a PC.
Just copy all the data you want to share to an external USB Drive and plug it into the USB port on your base station.
When you select the ‘Disks’ tab, the connected USB hard drive should automatically appear. Just ensure ‘Enable file sharing’ is ticked and choose your choice of authentication. You can choose to authenticate with the base station password, a separate password for the hard disk or create user names and passwords and specify permission access to the disk.

To access this shared drive from a mac is just like accessing any network share.

 In any Finder window, look for the name of your base station under the ‘shared’ section of the sidebar, and select the base station. Once you have entered the password for the shared disk it will mount on your computer.

Advanced Settings: (Wireless Printing)

Wireless printing is as simple as connecting a USB printer to the USB port on your Airport Extreme, and then using the Mac- and PC-compatible Bonjour networking technology, to browse for the printer just like any other network printer!

Using AirPort Utility for iOS

Once your network is set up, AirPort Utility for iOS lets you manage and monitor your AirPort base station from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.
You can conveniently view the status of your Internet connection, or add base stations to create a larger network.

I hope you enjoyed this podcast, and If you would like to book a place on any of our courses, then please do check out our website.

– To learn how to troubleshoot Airport Utility and repair the Wireless Base Stations, you may be interested in attending our ACMT course.

– To learn how to deploy and support iPhones/iPads, you may find our iPhone / iPad: Support and Deployment course useful or our iOS Security course.

You can also email training@amsys.co.uk, if you would like to ask our training team any questions.
Thanks again for watching, and I hope to see you on a course soon!

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