macOS: “WiFi: No Hardware Installed Error”, Fix

Some macOS users may experience this issue. In fact, several users report this problem. Users state that they can’t get online because their Mac computers display this message: “Wi-Fi: No hardware installed” (see the image below) when the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar is clicked.

Wi-Fi No Hardware InstalledIf you see this error message, this means that your Mac is unable to detect your Wi-Fi adaptor because of two possible reasons: (a) Wi-Fi adaptor is not installed or (b) Wi-Fi adaptor is failed.

See also: Bluetooth not working?

As everyone relies on their Internet connection to function properly, this can very frustrating when your wireless connection goes down as a result of this problem. Your Mac may start having this Wi-Fi issue after updating your computer.

This short article explains how you can troublesoot this Wi-Fi issue:

  1. The first thing you should do is to simply restart your Mac.
  2. If restarting your Mac does not help, the second tip you should try is to reset NVRAM and SMC. To reset NVRAM (or PRAM) is easy. Here is how:
    1. Turn off your computer
    2. Then restart your Mac, immediately press and hold down the Command + Option + P + R keys together until you hear the reboot sound (about 20 seconds).
    3. Your Mac will reboot. Now check if the Wi-Fi icon still shows the X  icon and Wi-Fi: No hardware installed message.  If you are still having this problem then now reset SMC.
  3. Resetting SMC (System Management Controller) is a little bit complex. It is slightly different on different Mac models.  Apple’s document explains how you can do that. After resetting SMC, are you still having Wi-Fi issues? If so, please see the next tip.
  4. It is possible that an old system configuration file may cause this. This file is ‘/etc/sysctl.conf’. Modern Macs do not even have this file anymore. To the following steps:
    1. Open the Terminal app (Applications > Utilities)
    2. Enter the following command and hit Enter
    3. ls -l /etc/sysctl.conf
    4. It should return a result like “No such file or directory”. This means that your Wi-Fi problem is caused by something else.
    5. However, if you see a result like this :  “-rw-r–r– 1 root wheel 136 24 Nov 2013 /etc/sysctl.conf“; this means that your computer has sysctl.conf file. It is highly likely that this file is causing this network problem. What you want to do this rename this file to see if that fixes the issue (so you can restore later if you want to).
    6. In Terminal, enter the following command and press Enter
    7. sudo mv /etc/sysctl.conf /etc/sysctl.conf.bak
    8. You may have to enter your admin password to make this change.
    9. Then simply restart your Mac
  5. Start up your Mac in Safe Mode. Here is how:
    1. Turn off your Mac
    2. Start your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key. You will see the Apple logo. Release the Shift ket when you see the login window.
    3. Now you are in Safe Mode. Is Wi-Fi working?
    4. Restart your Mac normally without pressing any keys. (see also: If Safe Mode is stuck?)
  6. On your Mac, follow these steps:
    1. Go to System Preferences > Network
    2. Select Wi-Fi on the left-hand side (see the image below)
    3. There is a configuration icon, click that to open configuration options.
    4. And select “Make Service Inactive”
    5. And then click Apply.Wi-Fi inactive
    6. Now restart your Mac
    7. And go to System preferences > Network and now select “Make Service Active” and click Apply.

Are you still having this problem? If so, you may want to contact Apple. You can make a Genius Bar reservation or you can live chat with an Apple support representative.

See also: Mac Mojave is not responding

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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13 thoughts on “macOS: “WiFi: No Hardware Installed Error”, Fix”

  1. I’ve struggled with this periodically for like 7 years. I replaced the wifi adapter and that worked for like a week. Eventually, I had a local MAC repair business override my IOS so I could update to the newest version. I’m now using Big Sur 11.4 and it appears to be working for now


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