Fixing the iPhone Bluetooth Internet Tethering with OS X

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Recently, my iPhone’s ability to wirelessly tether the Internet connection from my mobile data plan through bluetooth was broken. I wasn’t sure what went wrong or what broke it. All I did right before it happened was to upgrade my RAM from 4GB to 8GB and also the hard disk to a nice 7200RPM 500GB Western Digital Scropio. And the guy that helped me upgrade it did a PRAM reset as well.

But anyways, it just go screwed up. It would still pair with my MacBook Pro and I could also see the blue Internet tethering bar appear everytime i connect my iPhone from the Bluetooth device list. What’s not working was that I just wasn’t able to get online and nothing loads on my Mac.

And since USB tethering works, I suppose it’s got something to do with my Bluetooth connection. The PAN setup in particular.

So I went about trying to fix it and lo-and-behold, it was SOOoooooo easy to fix it. Here’s what I did.

I suppose the fact that I was able to connect to my iPhone via Bluetooth and still not get connected should have hinted me enough what the problem was.

Initially I didn’t think there was an issue with the PAN network and thus tried to figure out what was wrong with the ever ‘stable’ Bluetooth pairing. So, I quickly remove the iPhone from the Bluetooth devices and vice-versa on the iPhone as well, and re-pair them fresh.

That obviously didn’t solve my problem.

Then I did a little more checking and went into the network settings of the Bluetooth PAN. Hey, what happened to my IP address. It seems that the problem is that it’s not being assigned by via DHCP! And all I needed to do was the renew the lease

But it seems that merely trying to renew the DHCP lease don’t quite work too.

For some reason, it worked before but there were times when it didn’t work again.

So to make sure that it was all re-setup nice and well. I decided to clear off the pairing again. Made sure all the settings were removed from both the MacBook Pro and the iPhone, the device pairing configurations as well as the Bluetooth PAN configuration.

The steps I took which is now fool proof are as the following:-

1. Remove Bluetooth pairing.

On the Mac, just go to the Bluetooth Preferences and remove your iPhone from the list of devices.

On the iPhone, similarly, just access the Bluetooth settings and ‘Forget’ the bluetooth device which in this case would be your Mac.

In my case, I turned my iPhone off and on just to make sure the settings is really removed. I doubt this is really necessary but heck, I just did it anyway.

Now, don’t re-pair your iPhone back to your Mac just yet. There’s one more configuration to remove and that’s the Bluetooth PAN config.

2. Remove Bluetooth PAN config.

Next, open your Network Preferences and look into the list of network services. You should find one called Bluetooth PAN. Remove it by clicking on the ‘-‘ (minus) button at the bottom of the list. Don’t worry about removing it. Adding it back is a breeze. 🙂

3. Re-pair iPhone to Mac.

This is pretty simple. On your iPhone, go into the Bluetooth settings to allow the iPhone to be discoverable and re-pair it again with your Mac. This step should be fairly simple and if you’re stuck, well, here’s a link to how you can pair your bluetooth device to your Mac.

Now that you’re re-paired it, the next step is to re-create the Bluetooth PAN configuration. But before that, just make sure that your iPhone Internet tethering is still on. And if paired, you should see the blue tethering bar too. No, your Mac would still not connect to the Internet yet at this point as the Bluetooth PAN configuration does not yet exist.

4. Re-create the Bluetooth PAN config.

Now get back into the Network Preferences. To add it back, just click on the ‘+’ (plus) button just beside the ‘-‘ (minus) button to add a new services.

Select Bluetooth PAN as the Interface from the dialog box (see screenshot on the right). You would most likely get the Interface named “Bluetooth PAN 2” by default. You may rename it back to “Bluetooth PAN” or anything else to your fancy.

Once you’re happy with the interface name, just click Create and you’re almost there!

5. Renew DHCP Lease for the Bluetooth PAN

You’ll notice that once you’ve recreate the Bluetooth PAN, it would state itself as connected but with a yellow dot notifying you that the connection does not have an IP.

So all you’ve got to do now is to just select the Bluetooth PAN interface and click on the “Advanced…” button. Once you get into the TCP/IP settings, just click on the Renew DHCP Lease button and you’ll get the IP address assigned to you again!

Once this is done. The next time you try and connect your iPhone network again, it would work without a hitch anymore.

A note of caution. If you have a few network locations configured, you would need to delete and re-create the Bluetooth PAN configuration for each of the network locations since the interface settings are unique to each location.

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34 Responses

  1. Zyrtec27 says:

    Great piece of advice, thank you so much !

  2. Nelson says:

    Thanks so much for this. I toyed around with it on my own to see if it works. Turns out that I needed to delete and read the PAN. Much appreciated!

    – Nelson

  3. Nelson Shen says:

    Having problems tethering your iphone 4 via bluetooth? This fix worked for me. #OSX #iphone4 #tether #troubleshooting

  4. Thank you very much, It’s worked.
    I tried to fix on my own, but it didn’t work.
    Much appreciated.

  5. Trenskow says:

    This was just what I needed. Thank you!

  6. Marco says:

    Awesome tip, saved me a bucket of time I thought it was going to be one of those “It only happens to me” experiences and have to toddle off to the genius bar.

  7. INDISTRESS says:


  8. Aaroncrunch says:

    Brilliant – was so frustrated knowing I had it paired before and then having it stop working! Thanks a lot for taking the time to write this out.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Glad to be of help 🙂

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh my god you rock so hard. Thank you so, so, much!

    I had no idea I could remove the “Bluetooth PAN” network but following your very nicely explained instructions worked perfectly. Your rock.

    Thanks so much.

  11. Anonymous says:

    PS posted this via my shiny new Iphone PAN network.

  12. Bonb says:

    Thank you… thank you… thank you!

  13. Kembo says:

    Thanks a lot for this tutorial.
    I had faced the same issue after installing 8Gb Ram on my new Macbook Pro.

  14. Gerry Mclarnon says:

    Thanks, that was just what I needed after installing 8GB of memory, who would have thought….

  15. Bo Malmberg says:

    Great!  Have been looking for this fix for a long time!

  16. well says:

    Great !!!
    Worked perfect.
    I had this problem for a while Internet tethering (Personal Hotspot) works on USB but not on Bluetooth. And it took some search to get here. SO I added this phrase to my comments.

    You shud add some more keywords…others will find this faster..

  17. Ken Ng says:

    Thanks for the tip!

  18. Dan says:

    Any tips to tether for updated iOS 5.0.1 on my iPhone? I couldn’t find the “lease” renewal. I’m also using 10.7.2 on my MBP

  19. Ken Ng says:

    Did you use to be able to tether with your iPhone before the iOS 5 update? The iOS 5 update should not break that capability.

  20. Aleksander says:

    Hey. Sorry about my bad english. I’ve followed your instructions and it is still not working. It works fine by cabel, and the “tethering blue sign” comes up on the iphone. The bluetooth pan network is connected and is showing green, the router adresse, subnet and ip4 is found and everything seems to be right, but still I have no internet connection. I works fine on my wifes macbook. I’ve tried to reset the pram but thats no good. Any help?

  21. Lee says:

    Awesome… thank you so much!

  22. Dmitri says:

    I’m having the same problem. This fix isn’t doing it for me.

    I have a late 2008 aluminum MacBook with a completely fresh install of Lion 10.7.2. The 3GS is running latest iOS 5.0.1 (although it’s not clean, so this may be the issue… I’ve been upgrading it version by version since iOS 3).

    I’ve tried removing and re-adding the Bluetooth PAN, but no luck. The iPhone pairs, I see a blue bar saying “Personal Hotspot: 1 Connection” and I’ve done renew DHCP lease, it has an IP, but there is no connection on the MacBook.

    I’ve tried it with my dad’s newer iPhone 4S, and it works fine. So it’s just my old 3GS at fault here. I bet if I restore it to factory settings it will work fine, but I wish I didn’t have to do that…

    Strangely enough, my 3GS bluetooth tethering works fine on my Windows machines, but not my MacBook.

  23. Crispian says:

    Again this isn’t working with me. iPhone 4 running iOS5 and a MBP running 10.7.2.
    I have removed and re-paired and renewed license but still no joy.
    There is an IP address visible and the internet access is showing as ‘green’ in the network pane, but no data is flowing….?
    Is your fix above only if there is no IP being issued?

  24. herojig says:

    Hi I got to step 5 but the IP is not renewing and PAN is still red-balled in network settings. Can’t see a way to fix that! thx.

  25. Ken Ng says:

    That’s weird. Are you getting any errors? Did you delete the pairing from both the iPhone and Mac before re-pairing it?

  26. adroit says:

    guys- it works! for those with newer iOS beside (before doing them – but they may be not necessary at all!) above instructions:
    on iPhone go to ->settings ->general ->reset -> reset network settings.
    it must be something sitting there that we couldn’t see.
    my 3gs tethered fine with my iPad but not with macbook. after doing a reset it works!!

    try it.

  27. Jiansong says:

    This is exactly what I need, thanks ken.

  28. Julianday says:

    Ken you are a legend!
    4 months of frustration and fixed in 3 minutes!

  29. kfpc says:

    I got the same problem :(. Red-balled PAN and I don’t even see an IP anywhere.. But I think it’s because my problem is a little different. My iPhone and MBP are unable to connect. They do at first and then it stops..

  30. Doc says:

    Legend!!!!! Been trying to fix this for ages. Absolute champion! Cheers mate

  31. Niels Ingemann says:

    Thanks so much. This problem nearly killed me, and then I came here and solved it in 5 minutes.

  32. Ken Ng says:

    Totally understand how that feels like and it’s the main reason why I put up this blog. Sort of a personal repository for fixes I discovered and also to help others. So I’m very glad to be able to help. 🙂

  33. jesse says:

    I deleted my “bluetooth PAN” and now it only gives me the option of “bluetooth DUN”… how do I get bluetooth pan back?

  34. Hojjat says:

    Thanks! Worked like a charm!

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