How to Use Your iPhone as a Personal Hotspot Over USB

The iPhone works great as a mobile WiFi Hotspot, but it performs even better when plugged in with a USB cable.

By using the Hotspot function over USB, the phone is both charging and providing an internet connection simultaneously. This is more reliable than the WiFi option which can take time to show up in the list of available networks and prevents a dead battery later in the day. Using the iPhone as a personal hotspot over USB can also improve speed and connectivity issues.

The guide below will demonstrate how to use the iPhone as a hotspot over USB on both PC and Mac.

How to Use iPhone as Personal Hotspot Over USB

To use Personal Hotspot first make sure that Personal Hotspot is either a part of your monthly plan already, or that you enable it. Personal Hotspot for some will already be enabled, but it depends on the wireless carrier.

For Verizon customers, if you are part of the Share Everything plan, mobile hotspot is a feature that is already included. For other Verizon customers, the mobile hotspot feature is a $20/month add-on to your contract. Either log into the account online through Verizon’s website or call Verizon to add this feature or find out if you have it already.


Another thing to mention is that if you are currently under an unlimited data plan, adding mobile hotspot online will remove unlimited data. To keep unlimited data and add the personal hotspot plan, call Verizon and ask for the option.

AT&T includes the the personal hotspot feature for AT&T Mobile Share plan users. Other users must go online or call AT&T to add the $20 personal hotspot plan.

Sprint users can add the personal hotspot online or by calling Sprint, starting at $20 a month.

Read more on AT&T and Verizon plans.

Using a personal hotspot is an easy way to use data fast, especially when tethering a laptop or tablet to a 4G LTE connection to watch a movie or download large files for work. Pay attention to text and email alerts to avoid overage fees.

With 4G LTE, data speeds on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint may be faster than a home internet connection, but use the speed wisely on tiered data plans. Sprint’s personal hotspot feature is limited, unlike their smartphone plans.

AT&T lets users make phone calls while using the iPhone as a personal hotspot because the iPhone can send data and voice at the same time, which is one reason some users choose AT&T. Verizon and Sprint don’t offer this option.


Tap Settings.

Tap Settings

Tap General -> Cellular -> Personal Hotspot. After sing the personal hotspot once, it will show up on the main settings screen from now on, as shown below.

Tap Personal Hotspot


Move the Slider in the Top Left to ON.

Personal Hotspot ON

Once the Personal Hotspot slider is on, plug the iPhone into the computer with a USB cable. This is the same cable that is used to charge the iPhone, and also sync it with iTunes.

After completing this step, the next option will appear.

Bluetooth and USB

To only use the hotspot over Bluetooth and USB select the second option. This way the only devices connected will be over these connection types and not just regular WiFi.

After selecting this, the last step is to choose the iPhone from the network options on the computer.

How to Set up iPhone Personal Hotspot with Windows

To have the iPhone work as a hotspot iTunes must be installed on the PC that you are using. If iTunes is not installed the computer cannot recognize that the phone is functioning as a network device.

Go to the Desktop and Plug the iPhone into a USB port.

PC Desktop

Close Auto-Play Window.

Close Auto-Play

The iPhone will install the necessary drivers for it to work as a network connection and then this next dialogue box will pop up.

Next, Choose Public Network.

Network Type

Once Public Network has been selected the iPhone should be connected to the computer and the network indicator (in the bottom right) should appear connected.

Close Network Window.

Close Network Window

How to Set up iPhone Personal Hotspot on a Mac


Go to the Desktop and Plug the iPhone into the computer with a USB cable.


Tap the Network icon in the top right and Select Open Network Preferences.


The iPhone USB should appear connected.

When Personal Hotspot is on and devices are connected (PC or Mac) it should look like the image below, with a blue notification bar at the top.

Blue Notification Bar

A nice option is that users can still have the iPhone plugged into the laptop and also output WiFi for other devices. To do this Choose the first option Turn on WiFi and their will be a wireless network created. To join this network search for it with the device and enter the password shown on the Personal Hotspot screen called Wi-Fi Password.