With a smartphone in hand, you’re probably used to having a personal Wi-Fi hotspot wherever you go. Did you know you can turn your laptop into a hotspot too? All you have to do are follow these few easy steps and you can hook up multiple devices to your new Wi-Fi hotspot.

Connect Through Your Macbook

Admittedly, Apple makes it a little easier than their primary competitor to turn your laptop into an instant hotspot.

To begin, open System Preferences from the dock, typically located at the bottom of your screen. In the window that opens, click Sharing. Locate the On/Service box to the left and click Internet Sharing.

Internet Sharing will be turned off initially, indicated by a red circle. You’ll need to choose the source from which you’d like to share. Your choices should be Wi-Fi, Bluetooth DUN, Bluetooth PAN, Ethernet, Thunderbolt Bridge, and iPhone USB. You might only have a few of those options, depending on your laptop’s capabilities.

Below that, in the box next to the label To computers using: you’ll click Wi-Fi.

A Wi-Fi options button will become available. Click that. You’ll be given the option to choose a network name, security type, and password. You’ll also have the option to click none.

Once you’ve entered a password, and you really should in order to be secure, click OK. The light next to Internet Sharing will turn green if you’ve performed the steps correctly and you’ll be good to go.

Connect Through Your Windows Laptop

There are multiple options for connecting a Windows device, each with varying degrees of difficulty and security. If you have an Ethernet port on your laptop, you can follow a step-by-step guide geared toward your Windows operating system and choose who can connect to your network.

For Windows 7 devices, you might need to create a Wi-Fi hotspot through an ad hoc network. This option is sometimes limited and will only work between devices within a few feet of each other, but it’s effective in an emergency. Windows 8 laptops have their own process, which involves developing a Wi-Fi hotspot through the Command Prompt.

A third option is to download a program and have it do the heavy lifting for you. Software, like Virtual Router, will usually be free and secured through a WPA2 encryption. You’ll be given simple instructions that’ll allow you to effortlessly turn your laptop into an Internet distributing machine, whether you’re using Wi-Fi, cable, mobile, or other connections.

Why This is Useful

With Wi-Fi available seemingly everywhere you go these days, it might not seem necessary to turn your laptop into a mobile Internet device, but there are plenty times where it can come in handy.

If you find yourself in an area where there’s no Wi-Fi router, but have a group project and only one cable, sharing an Internet connection through your laptop would certainly help. Perhaps you’re using a 3G or 4G dongle to get online and your other devices are Wi-Fi only. Whatever the problem is, there are ways to make it happen whether you’re using a Mac or Windows laptop.

Is It Risky?

Sharing your Internet connection through your laptop is secure, as long as you follow the correct steps. When prompted, it’s always best to create a password that’s difficult to guess and secure your network using an encryption. Do not give out your password to people you don’t trust, nor let random strangers in a coffee shop connect through your laptop. That’s just asking to be hacked.

Next time you find yourself without open Wi-Fi and need to connect multiple devices, now you know how to go about it. This method is particularly great for travel, when you find yourself in a hotel that charges for its connection per device and you need a way around that pesky fee. At the very least, you know it’s an option if you’re in a pinch.