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If you’ve recently purchased an iMac, chances are that it came with Airport wireless built in. If you have cable or DSL service, but have yet to purchase a wireless router, then you’re in luck. You can turn your iMac into a wireless router for your home or small office. Here’s how:

First, here’s a basic diagram of what is needed. 1) A cable or DSL modem, which typically provided by your internet service provider; 2) a Mac (with built-in Airport wireless) which is connected to your modem via an ethernet cable; and 3) any number of laptops which have wireless capability.

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Next, you will need to configure the Mac (connected to your modem) to share it’s internet capability to wireless devices. To do this, open your System Preferences and click on Sharing.

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In the Sharing Pane, click on the Internet tab to bring up Internet Sharing. In this window, you want to select Share your connection from Built-in Ethernet in the drop down menu. Then, you want to select Airport from the “To computers using:” list.

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Then click on the Airport Options… button to configure some wireless security options. You don’t want to be sharing your wireless connection with the whole neighborhood.Here, enter a WEP password which will be required from the laptop wishing to join your new wireless network.

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I have found this to be an excellent solution for folks who don’t have a wireless router, but would like occasional wireless access in the home or small office.

NOTE: (5-15-07) Some of you have expressed some difficulty when trying to join a non-Mac device to this wireless setup. Apparently, there are some issues around which encryption scheme you choose. Take a look at this Apple Doc for some possible answers: WireLess Encryption