How to Fix Missing Personal Hotspot on iPhone & iOS 10

Personal Hotspot not working on your iPhone? Here's what to do

missing personal hotspot on iPhone
image credit: John Lamb/DigitalVision/Getty Images

The iPhone's Personal Hotspot feature transforms your phone into a mini Wi-Fi hotspot that can share its Internet connection with other nearby devices. Normally, using Personal Hotspot is as simple as going into the Settings app and turning the feature on. But some users – often after upgrading the OS on their devices or after unlocking or jailbreaking their phones – have found that their Personal Hotspot has disappeared.

Here are 8 ways to get it back.

Step 1: Restart Your iPhone

This is the best first step in almost every troubleshooting situation. A restart often clears simple problems and gets you back on track. I'd guess that a restart won't work for most people in this situation, but it's simple and quick, so it's worth a try.

To restart your iPhone, hold down the home and sleep/wake buttons at the same time until the Apple logo appears on the screen and then let go.

Check out this article for more details on the different kinds of iPhone restarts.

Step 2: Try Cellular Settings

Sometimes when the Personal Hotspot menu disappears from the main screen in the Settings app it's still present in another place. This option uses that to get it back.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Cellular.
  3. Tap Personal Hotspot.
  4. Move Personal Hotspot slider to on/green
  5. Go back to the main Settings screen and you may see Personal Hotspot listed right under Cellular and above Notifications. If so, the problem is solved. If not, try the next step.

    You can also try turning your cellular connection on and off. To do that, open Control Center and put your phone into Airplane Mode, then turn Airplane Mode off.

    Step 3: Reset Network Settings

    In some situations, Personal Hotspot may have disappeared due to a problem with the settings that control your phone's access to cellular and Wi-Fi networks (they may have accidentally been changed during the OS upgrade or jailbreak).

    Resetting those settings and starting fresh should help:

    1. Tap Settings.
    2. Tap General.
    3. Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap Reset.
    4. Tap Reset Network Settings.
    5. In the pop-up warning, tap Reset Network Settings.

    Your iPhone will restart. When it's done booting up, check the main Settings screen for the Personal Hotspot option. If it's not there, continue on to the next step.

    Step 4: Check Phone Name

    Every iPhone has a name. Usually, it's something along the line of "Sam's iPhone" or "Sam Costello's iPhone" (if you're me, that is). That name doesn't get used for much, but believe it or not, sometimes it can affect whether or not Personal Hotspot is visible. If you've changed the name of your phone or have unlocked your phone:

    1. Tap Settings.
    2. Tap General.
    3. Tap About.
    4. Look at the Name menu. If the name is different than what you were expecting, tap Name.
    5. On the Name screen, tap the x to delete the current name and type in the old one.

    If Personal Hotspot doesn't appear on the main Settings screen, move on to the next step.

    Step 5: Update Carrier Settings, If Available

    While it doesn't happen as often as Apple releases new versions of the iOS, from time to time your carrier (AKA your phone company) releases new versions of the settings that help your iPhone work with its network.

    Needing to update to the latest settings could be the cause of the missing Personal Hotspot. To check for new carrier settings:

    1. Tap Settings.
    2. Tap General.
    3. Tap About.
    4. If updated settings are available, a prompt will appear on screen. Follow the instructions.

    Learn more about carrier settings and updating them here

    Step 6: Update APN Settings

    If all of the steps so far didn't work, things are definitely getting trickier. This step doesn't apply to many iPhones running newer versions of the iOS (in fact, you won't find these options on very new versions) or in use in the U.S., but if you're on an older OS or overseas, it could help.

    Your phone's APN, or Access Point Name, helps it understand how to connect to cellular networks. Tweaking the APN settings can sometimes resolve the problem.

    1. Tap Settings.
    2. Tap Cellular (or Cellular Data Network, depending on which version of the iOS you're running)
    3. Look at the Cellular Data menu. lf there's any text in the APN field, make note of it. If there's nothing there, skip to step 5.
    4. Scroll to the Personal Hotspot menu. In the APN field, type in the text from the last step.
    5. If there was nothing in the Cellular Data menu, just scroll down to the Personal Hotspot section and enter any text you like in the APN, Username, and Password fields.
    6. Go back to the main Settings screen and Personal Hotspot should appear shortly.

    Step 7: Restore From Backup

    If nothing has worked, it's time for a more radical step: restoring from backup. This wipes all the data and settings currently on your iPhone and replaces them with an older version (make sure to pick one that you know works). Keep in mind: anything that you don't have backed up will be lost during this process, so make sure you've got everything you need to be saved before starting.

    For full details on this process, check out How to Restore iPhone From Backup.

    Step 8: Contact Apple

    If you've gotten this far and still don't have Personal Hotspot, you've got a more complicated problem than you can solve on your own. Your best at this point is to get help directly from Apple. Try going to your nearest Apple Store for expert help.

    Apple hides this feature on its site, so learn how to make an Apple Store appointment using this article.