Your Mac or iPhone Can’t Connect to a Public Wi-Fi Hotspot (Captive)? Fix

This article explains what you can do when you cannot use captive Wi-Fi networks on your iOS (iPhone, iPad) device or your Mac. Captive Wi-Fi hotspots let you use the Internet in public places such as coffee shops, Internet cafes, bus stops, university campuses, hospitals, hotels, airports, and other public locations. Captive networks require users to provide additional log-in information in order to connect. These Wi-Fi connections are offered sometimes free (but you subscribe) and sometimes you pay for. The most common problem that users are experiencing is that the login screen just never loads even though your device’s Wi-Fi icon indicates that you are connected. And this prevents users from connecting to the Internet.

Ideally, you are supposed to be redirected to the login popup page where you will see an authorization page and this is where you accept that place’s (airport, coffee shot etc) Wi-Fi terms & conditions and click “Connect” before browsing the Internet. Are you having this problem also? Is the Wi-Fi login screen not showing up when you attempt you connect your device to the Internet. Then this article is for you.

See also: iPhone Keeps Saying Incorrect Wi-Fi Password (But It’s Correct); Fix

Please try each step one at a time until you resolve your issue.

1. In your browser, enter a URL’s full address and hit enter. This may trigger the login screen. For example, do not just type but, instead, type in the address bar.

Safari full address

2. Go to the following URL, this will usually trigger the captive portal:


3. Restart your device. Here is how:

  • iOS: Press and hold the on/off (side or top), or if you are using an iPhone X or 11 then press and hold the on/off and volume up buttons together, until you see the red slider. And then slide the power off slider. You can also turn off your device by going to Settings > General > Shut Down if your device is running iOS 12 or later. Then restart your iOS device, by pressing and hold the side button until you see the Apple logo.
  • macOS: On your Mac, click the Apple menu and then Restart.

4. Clear history, cookies and web site data. Here is how:

  • iOS: tap Settings > Safari > scroll down and tap Clear History and Website Data.clear website data
  • macOS: Open the Safari app, choose Safari > Preferences, click the Privacy tab > Manage Website Data and Remove All.

5. Reset your Wi-Fi. Note that by doing so, you will lose all the Passwords and Config. Here is how:

  • iPhone, iPad or iPod touch: Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.
  • macOS: On your Mac: Click Apple menu > System Preferences > Network > Wi-Fi (left menu) and select the ‘-‘ (minus) sign to remove the service (you may have to enter your admin password), and then click the ‘+’ (plus) sign and select Wi-Fi and set it up again.

6. Try turning off alternative 3rd party DNS servers, if you are using. Some people use 3rd party DNS servers (Google DNS, OpenDNS etc) for various reasons (privacy, performance reasons, etc). If you are one of those people, try turning this off.  Here is how:

  • iOS: Tap Settings > select the Wi-Fi connection > tap the small ‘i’ icon, which is located next to your selected Wi-Fi network. Find the DNS section and tap Configure DNS and tap Automatic and exit Settings.
  • macOS: Click Apple menu > System Preferences > Network and click the Advanced button and then DNS tab, select the 3rd party DNS  numbers and click the ‘-‘ icon to remove them and click OK and exit Settings.

7. Try forcing the sign-in/acceptance screen to open. This easy trick may solve your problem. Here is how:

On your Mac or iOS device, open your browser (e.g., Safari) and try the following URLs and hit enter and you may see the login page:


8. Try Private mode in your browser. Here is how you can turn on private browsing on your device:

  • iOS: In Safari, tap the square tab icon then tap Private, then tap Done and close the other tabs.Private Browsing
  • macOS: choose File > New Private Window and close the other non-private window.

Please note that Safari will be black or dark when you use Private mode.

9. Restart your Mac in safe mode. Here is how:

  • Turn off your Mac (Apple menu > Shut Down)
  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key
  • Release the Shift key when you see the login screen
  • Your Mac will start in safe mode
  • Now in safe mode, try connecting to the Hotspot
  • Is it working? Whatever your answer is exit safe mode by restarting your Mac normally (without pressing any key)

10. On your Mac, visit a site by using the Terminal app. Here is how:

  • Open Terminal (you may use Spotlight): Applications / Utilities
  • Enter the following command and hit enter:
  • open -a “Safari” https://macreports.comTerminal open a site

See also:

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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18 thoughts on “Your Mac or iPhone Can’t Connect to a Public Wi-Fi Hotspot (Captive)? Fix”

  1. Thank you! I used it in-flight (from my phone) to solve my MacBook connection problem. Totally forgot about the Google DNS servers being in my Network prefs.

  2. None of the options worked for me, but then I tried removing all the DNS I had (preferences->network->advanced->DNS->Remove (-)), then turning off and on the wifi, and log in again to the network, and worked

  3. there much easyer way deal this on your router add the ip address allow bouth ways,

    in host file add*
    regadless bouth will work on ipfire them people use such firewall address must have un filter access now what i dont understand why, my ph why must tell this address i on web or refuse to contect what informtion being sent, and recived to bouth these quistion i have awasers to i have a device that scans the network, will show me what being sent recived, it contecks between wifi and internet so u get lot information but u just want see one how much data being sent to this address and what data being sent, we know there no reason for this, that if i cant connteck to this ip wifi will refuse to work, is more less telling u we going do what we want but we people also have tools, as apple refuse give me ip address for it i found it on my network , now i want see what trafic is moveing around it, why we force to contect to this device when there no need to , not even in user agreement is it, apple, quisition is why dose apple want know when am i on the internet, and where i am as this to given to them at each hot spot conntects to, now what apple doing shall find out soon

  4. Woohoo! Serhat is a hero – this is a problem which has been bugging me for years. But it’s now solved (the second step worked for me).

    Many many thanks!

  5. That fix was working for me, but I made the mistake of upgrading to 10.15.2 and now launching Captive Network Assistant doesn’t work any more – nothing happens. Any thoughts?

  6. None of these worked for me. What did work was to connect to the public wifi network, then force this app to launch: /System/Library/CoreServices/Captive Network, which opens the captive authentication windows.

  7. none of this worked for me. Can’t even connect to my ipad’s hot spot (or any hot spots with a landing page. . the WiFi symbol in the top right shows of for fractions of a second and disappears again. The Wifi settings show that I’m connected (showing a local IP as well as a router IP) but I’m not online. Any ideas? iOS 13.2.2


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