Video: Connect your iPad to the Internet via Ethernet cable with this easy hack

iPad connected to the Internet via Ethernet only

iPad connected to the Internet via Ethernet only

After seeing an eager Redditor discuss their setup for deploying iPads online with just an Ethernet connection, I was curious myself to see if I could get my iPad Air to be wireless-less as well.

It’s obviously not an ideal way to use a tablet in 2014, as it’s probably easier and cheaper to travel with an inexpensive router than the equipment required to get your iPad wired in. But if you have the equipment lying around or just want to experience the proof-of-concept for yourself, it’s certainly a strange thing to witness.

Check below for the setup I used as well as my video experience.

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Overall, it’s really not a reliable way to connect to the Internet (and that’s without considering the inconvenience and potential expense) because it just doesn’t work 100% of the time. Simply put, you can’t just unplug it and plug it back in and expect it to work. It’s quite apparent that iOS isn’t designed to entertain this experience.

Here’s what connecting an iPad to Ethernet requires:

-Any iPad (but you already knew that) — just disable cellular data and wifi

Lightning to USB adapter (Lightning to 30-pin adapter and 30-pin to USB adapter also work; that’s what I used)

USB cable

Powered USB hub (I used Satechi’s 7-port setup)

USB to Ethernet (I had one handy that I hardly use for my MacBook Air)

Ethernet cable

Router (I used the latest AirPort Extreme in my video)

-Internet connection (but you also already knew that, right?)

Connect your equipment in that order if you should be good to go. You will want to either put your iPad in Airplane Mode or manually disable wifi and cellular data before you can really try the proof-of-concept.

In my experience, it would only work if your iPad gave you a warning the it did not recognize or support the USB to Ethernet adapter. On the first attempt, the warning prompted as soon as I plugged it in, but after unplugging and replugging it back it, the iPad did not recognize the connection. Rebooting the iPad solved the problem, but this just speaks to the overall wonkiness of such a setup.

Performance wise, my network speed was actually right on par with what my ISP advertises. Moving back to wifi lost about 10 Mbps and 1/3 of the already low upload, but this certainly isn’t a practical setup in the least.

And without further ado, my hands-on experience with connecting my iPad Air to the Internet via Ethernet only:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMW_QAgFb-A&feature=em-upload_owner]

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Comments

  1. Ha awesome! My co-workers and I were trying to figure out if this was possible a few months ago since we hardly get any wifi back in our dungeon, but this wouldn’t really work for us since we don’t feasibly have access to the router. Guess we’ll just have to wait for the internet via USB hack!

  2. Tuan Bui - 9 years ago

    why do we need an iPad with cellular data for this to work? would an ipad wifi-only works the same?

    • Zac Hall - 9 years ago

      Yep. I just had to disable my cellular data so it didn’t default to using that. Either would be fine.

      • Yjw Oscar - 9 years ago

        do we need the latest iOS 7.xx to get it to work?i tried my iOS 6.13 jailbreaked iPad4,but no Internet connection at all,pls help,thanks

      • Stephen Lee Phillips - 9 years ago

        I note in your video that Wi-FI is disabled as well?

        My dilemma is this: Inconsisent Wi-Fi signal strength and sustainability.

        What I’d ideally like, is a way to hardwire my iPad 4 to an ethernet source, and then Wi-Fi content via AirPlayMirroring to my Apple TV (Gen 3)…. which I’d be unable to do, if the Wi-Fi must be off.

        The Wi-Fi connection between my iPad and Apple TV is rock solid: That with the cable internet source, no so much…

    • Zac Hall - 9 years ago

      I changed the wording to clarify :)

      • Yjw Oscar - 9 years ago

        iOS 6.13 is ok or has to be 7.04?

      • Zac Hall - 9 years ago

        7.0.3

      • Yjw Oscar - 9 years ago

        Thanks for ur reply,you meant only the version above 7.03 will be working? I have tried my iPad 4 with jail broken and with 6.13, and using lightning to usb camera adaptor,no succeed,pls advice,thanks in advance

      • Zac Hall - 9 years ago

        I used 7.0.3, not sure of other versions but having a powered USB hub is key

      • Oscar - 9 years ago

        Already used a powered USB hub.thanks

      • Gary Ehlenberger - 9 years ago

        Will it work for 7.1?

      • Gary Ehlenberger - 9 years ago

        Always get warning about USB to Ethernet adapter. Tied the suggested and other combinations. No wired internet. New Ipad Air, 7.03. Help! Should I try 7.1?

  3. Linard Arquint - 9 years ago

    Does it also work without the USB-hub? If you connect the USB-Ethernet dongle directly to the 30pin-USB adapter?

    • Zac Hall - 9 years ago

      It might but probably not as it seems to require a powered USB hub to work

      • Moises Soto - 9 years ago

        Oh! That’s what the USB Hub was for ;) thanks for the clarification

    • Roberto Narciso - 9 years ago

      Yes it works with 30pin-USB. I tested it with my old iPad.

      • Yjw Oscar - 9 years ago

        Which version of the iOS r u using?thanks

      • Yjw Oscar - 9 years ago

        Pls help

  4. Moises Soto - 9 years ago

    Interesting. You can save some money by using the Lightning to Mini-USB adapter, instead of using the two adapters shown in the video.

    I’m curious about why he needs the USB HUB instead of conecting the USB to Ethernet adapter directly to the 30-Pin to USB adapter.

    In fact I will try connecting a Micro-USB to Ethernet adapter to my Lightning to Micro-USB adapter. I’ll be back and comment about how this turns out (I’ll have to order the adapter so it may take a while). If it works then it would be awesome, especially if you just connect it to your office network directly instead of using a router.

    • Zac Hall - 9 years ago

      Yeah the one adapter instead of the two is ideal, that’s just what I had laying around.

      As for using it without the hub, no luck for me. It required the powered usb hub to function at all in my experience.

      • Stephen Lee Phillips - 9 years ago

        Zac, I have another “hardwire” challenge for you to consider, if you’ve the time and are so inclined?
        Involves hardwire interconnecting Apple TV, iPad 4, and AirPlay over ethernet…
        Please pm to resqdogz@gmail.com?
        Thank you!

  5. standardpull - 9 years ago

    The USB to Ethernet adapter is a high power device – if you’ve ever handled one in action, you can feel the heat. And that’s likely why a powered hub is required – the iPad is unlikely to want to give up all that juice.

    Regardless, this seems really awesome for those big conference settings where WIFI is saturated.

  6. Why use an adapter at all why can’t you run your lighting /USB cable that came with the Ipad directly into the USB hub and then from the hub to USB/Ethernet to Ethernet cable?

  7. jacobgann - 9 years ago

    wonder if this could work by plugging directly into the usb port on an airport extreme?

    • Martin Joseph - 7 years ago

      No, The airport extreme doesn’t provide a network connection on the USB port. Printers or Storage only.

  8. This is completely ridiculous and impractical. I love it to bits.

  9. Laughing_Boy48 - 9 years ago

    I’m sure Samsung will build a tablet with an Ethernet port. They’ll try anything that Apple doesn’t have just to prove they’re a better company at building computing devices.

  10. Kris404 - 9 years ago

    I wonder if this works?

    USB hub with Ethernet built-in (optionally powered using a 5-volt AC power adapter)
    http://www.kanexlive.com/dualrole
    http://www.kanexlive.com/poweradapter

    You would of course need to have this too for interfacing with the iDevice:
    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD821ZM/A/lightning-to-usb-camera-adapter?fnode=3a

    • aliinksa jaffer - 9 years ago

      I would be curious if this works as well. I tried on my IPAD 2 but didnt have great results. Zac would greatly appreciate your thoughts on it!

  11. Scott Edwards (@HM9013) - 9 years ago

    Question: can you get the net to flow the opposite way, from the iPad to the airport using the cell iPad as the only connection to the net??

    • Kris404 - 9 years ago

      Using iPhone and iPad as ‘USB 3G/4G modem/dongle’ for Internet connection has been possible for a while via Personal Hotspot along with routers running DD-WRT firmware.

      Airport Extreme only allows you to connect data drives & printers via USB.

    • That’s tethering “Personal Hotspot”

  12. 최병기 - 9 years ago

    wow..great works. i really try for this on my ipad air

  13. Scott Edwards (@HM9013) - 9 years ago

    has anyone tried to send the net connection (via the hack) to the airport from the iPad with cell??
    ie: ipad w/cell to ethernet to airport extreme wan port (airport then transmits from the net from the iPad

  14. Brian Carovillano - 9 years ago

    Saved the day for me at a convention that had too much WiFi traffic!!! Thanks soooo much for posting this!!!

  15. Gustavo Alves - 9 years ago

    Has anyone tried this setup with iPhone?

  16. Suzy Jackson - 9 years ago

    I work at a radio astronomy observatory where all forms of wireless are banned. This looks like it could be a game changer.

  17. William Preston Welch - 9 years ago

    Those of you who have gotten this to work, what devices are you using? I have not been able to replicate this success on an iPod Touch, iPhone 5c, or iPad 2. Even when the prompt appears about not recognizing the hardware, internet is still not available. I’m using all the parts recommended in the article on devices that span iOS 6-7.

    • Brian Carovillano - 9 years ago

      Had it working on an iPad2: 30pin to USB (camera adapter), USB to micro USB Belkin USB 4 Hub, USB to Ethernet adapter (plugged into one of the USB hub ports), Ethernet cable to wall or router.

  18. Kris404 - 9 years ago

    Did NOT work with a USB Y cable either. The cabele has 2x Male & 1x Female connectors:
    – Female end connected to the ‘Apple Ethernet adapter’ (for giving extra power)
    – One Male end (data) connected to iPad mini via ‘Lightning USB adapter’
    – The other Male-end (power) connected to ‘Apple USB Power adapter’

  19. Adam Kleifield - 9 years ago

    Very cool, I’ve been hoping something like this was possible for a long time!

    One consideration though: I take it there’s no feasible way anyone can think of where the iPad is running off A/C power at the same time?

  20. Does the 30-pin adapter to usb have to be officially made by apple for it to work? Ive done everything in the setup but still dint get a connection. Thanks!

  21. peplum75 - 9 years ago

    I have a Ipad 3. That does not work using the bundled 30 pines to USB port through the USB powered switch. Do I have to use a special 30 pins to USB camera adapter, and why ?
    Regards
    Pep.

  22. I doubt this is the case, but does this setup charge the iPad? If not, any thoughts on something like this: http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?p=5vusb&d=mikrotik-5vusb-5v-power-injector-for-usb-(5vusb)?

  23. i tried it with my iphone , it didn’t work
    I used the lightning power cord’s USB to a female USB adapter, is the only thing i did different.I have a powered USB hub. I have the USB to Ethernet adapter
    It also didn’t work with my Samsung tablet.
    Am i doing something wrong?
    Reply ·

  24. James Pronto - 8 years ago

    Does this also work with iOS 8?

  25. Aurin Ræder - 8 years ago

    I liked this so much that i made a video explaining it in detail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKp02y4JXVs&google_comment_id=z12yu5u4nqygtfhwr04cirkgtlrgcnuicrk0k

    I am really thankful for the posting here, tried first with third-party adaptors thar didn’t work, and found that it only works using original apple adaptors, even with a 5 meter usb cable :)

  26. mamadenene (@mamadenene) - 8 years ago

    We purchased the iPad Air 2 and accidentally got this hub for ethernet connection: Anker® USB 3.0 4-Port Portable Aluminum Hub with 2-Foot USB 3.0 Cable (Silver)
    Will it work as well as your Satechi 7-port? It did NOT come with a wall adapter.

  27. willy2nd - 8 years ago

    Zac, can you help out a real Apple Ipad2 noobie? I was given an Ipad2 as a gift-it only has the 30-pin connector. Which adapters do I need??

  28. Shaun Shankel - 8 years ago

    I set this up and it drained my iPad’s battery. Is there a way for the setup to power the iPad as well?

  29. Christine Hamilton - 8 years ago

    IM SO EXCITED………. I run Ipad groups for aged and disabled in community health, i have a meter for reading radiation, so we decided much safer option to hook up the ipads by ethernet cable like in this video, IT WORKS, BEAUTIFULLY, PERFECTLY, I had a bit of trial and error as i purchased the ethernet to usb adaptor of different brands, it didnt work IT HAS TO BE “APPLE” also the lightning to camera adaptor has to be “APPLE” the powered usb hub can be any brand, ethernet cable any brand, this afternoon after many trips and wrong purchases i plugged it all in and works perfect. gave the message you cannot use this device, ignored that opened google, facebook app store, everything no worries, and very fast, much faster than wifi anyway. you can get very long ethernet cable, my smart tv’s i just run like 30m ethernet cable along skirting boards to the rooms, nothing wireless in my house and my rf radiation meter reads 0.02, if someone takes a smart phone out of flight mode the meter goes right up to 9000 straight away, so there is no need for wireless and radiation at all. Of all my testing, the cordless landline phone is the worst, about 19,000 on the meter, so i have gone back to corded home phone with extension cord, can still carry it around.
    Christine Hamilton’s photo.

    • maryif - 7 years ago

      Does the iPad continue to charge on this configuration?? I’m really excited about this possibility! We’ve been trying to eliminate wifi in our shop for a number of reasons not limited to but including employee health issues. We recently installed a new POS running off an iPad which is permanently affixed to the counter, so mobility is not an issue. The iPad has to be connected to the internet. We have purchased the Apple lightning to USB, the Apple USB to ethernet adapters, and a powered USB hub. So far everything works brilliantly, but the iPad is not receiving charge which ultimately makes this whole thing a no-go since the battery life of the iPad will not last a full shift in the shop :/

      • Aurin Ræder - 7 years ago

        Sorry no, the ipad cannot charge while it is also acting as a usb controller, we are many who would like that.

        A special solution could be having two identical ipads in the shop, if the ipad is using a POS with internet sync continously, then they should be able to be swapped at any time and charged using a wall charger, this also ensures the POS keeps working if one of the ipads stop working

        The charging ipad could then be used for all non-internet related work at the same time like using the address book, calendar, inventory list, offline product information etc

        I made a video about the ipad ethernet setup, and any new ideas will also be posted here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKp02y4JXVs

Author

Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.