Mac: No Captive Portal

KB ID 0001780


I was on a train today, and they were offering free Wi-Fi but despite me being able to connect, I had no internet access. This has happened a few times to me and it’s when I need to connect to a captive portal to get internet access, then no captive portal ever appears.

Note: A captive portal is just a pop up window that you usually see on ‘Free‘ wifi services, so you can ‘Pay‘ for connection, by giving them your details (name, email etc).

No Captive Portal: Solution

Now I could connect with my Android phone and that has a hotspot so I knew the problem was on my Mac, and I had my work iPhone in my bag I could also connect to that and get 4G. But I wanted to bottom out the problem in case I was ever stuck.

Open your network preferences > Select the Wifi connection > Advanced.

Mac no captive portal

Firstly let’s try the obvious, locate the entry that matches the SSID you are trying to connect to , and Delete it  > OK > Try again?

Mac delete or forget SSID

In my case the problem was being caused by the fact I had static DNS entries (Google’s DNS servers), this is why the captive portal was never being shown. You cant do a DNS lookup, before you have internet access, and if your DNS servers are on the internet, you can’t resolve the private URL of the captive portal!

Delete all the static DNS entries (dont panic! you will get the correct one dynamically allocated to you.) Once you’ve removed them all > OK  > Try again.

Mac delete Static DNS


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Author: PeteLong

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