There are a number of tools everyone should have at their disposal, Wi-Fi Explorer is one of them.
This great tool from Adrian Granados is the swiss army knife for networking tools on OS X.
No matter your technical level, this tool is really really useful.
At its simplest, when you launch it, it passively sits there scanning for local Wi-Fi networks.
Once these networks have been discovered it displays them in a list format with some basic information about each one. This information includes:
- The network name
- Signal strength
This is all useful stuff and you can sort the list based on any of this information. So, for instance in an ideal world your Wi-Fi network should have the strongest signal.
Below this list you get a number of charts which allows you to visualise the networks. The default one is really useful. It creates a chart representing each network found based on signal strength and the channel number. This channel number can be the cause of a lot of Wi-Fi issues. Ideally neighbouring networks should be on different non overlapping channels. The problem you sometimes face is that most Wi-Fi routers ship using the same channel.
Where I live , Virgin Media is the dominant supplier. Its seems every other week a new Wi-Fi network appears. By using this tool I can see which channels are conflicting with the one I am using, it also shows which channels are less congested, allowing me to reach Wi-Fi nirvana.
Beyond the basics, you can take this tool to another level. You can use it to capture a lot more information including:
- Beacon Interval
- Data Rate
- Security mode
- Encryption mode
You can also filter the list to include secure networks or insecure networks.
This tool has gotten me out of so may scrapes, I can’t recommend it enough.
It’s available from the Mac App Store, priced £1.99