How to Put Your Macbook in Airplane Mode

In the fast-paced world we live in, being constantly connected can often become overwhelming. There are times when you might want to pause notifications, conserve your device’s battery life, or comply with regulations during travel—especially when flying. That’s where ‘Airplane Mode’ comes in, providing a simple way to disconnect your MacBook from wireless networks and communications. Understanding how to activate this mode not only helps in complying with airline rules but also assists in minimizing distractions when needed. Let’s walk through the easy steps to find peace in silencing your connections, even at 30,000 feet.

how to put your macbook in airplane mode

Activating Airplane Mode through Wi-Fi

While MacBooks don’t have a specific ‘Airplane Mode’ like mobile devices, you can achieve a similar state by turning off Wi-Fi. This acts as the most straightforward way to stop your MacBook from connecting to wireless networks.

  1. Click on the Wi-Fi icon located in the upper right corner of your screen on the menu bar.
  2. From the dropdown menu that appears, select ‘Turn Wi-Fi Off.’

Turning off Wi-Fi disconnects you from the internet which essentially limits your MacBook’s ability to send or receive data, similar to Airplane Mode on other devices.

Disconnect Bluetooth Devices

Bluetooth is another wireless communication method. When you turn it off, you’re taking another step towards replicating the effects of Airplane Mode.

  1. Click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar.
  2. Select ‘Turn Bluetooth Off’ from the dropdown menu.

Turning off Bluetooth connections helps in saving battery and prevents your MacBook from communicating with wireless peripherals such as mice, keyboards, and headphones.

Turn Off Cellular Data (on equipped models)

Some MacBooks are equipped with cellular functionality. Turning off cellular data is a vital step in mimicking Airplane Mode.

  1. Go to System Preferences by clicking the Apple logo in the upper left corner.
  2. Select ‘Network,’ then ‘Cellular.’
  3. Click ‘Turn Cellular Off’ or uncheck the option that enables cellular data.

By doing this, you ensure that your MacBook is not using any mobile networks to connect to the internet.

Disable Location Services

Location Services utilize Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth to determine your MacBook’s location, which might not be ideal when trying to mimic Airplane Mode.

  1. Go to System Preferences and select ‘Security & Privacy.’
  2. Navigate to the ‘Privacy’ tab, then ‘Location Services.’
  3. Uncheck ‘Enable Location Services’ at the bottom of the list.

Disabling Location Services enhances privacy and conserves battery life.

Scheduled Do Not Disturb

Setting a scheduled ‘Do Not Disturb’ can be useful to prevent distractions during a flight.

  1. Open System Preferences and select ‘Notifications & Focus.’
  2. Choose ‘Focus,’ then ‘Do Not Disturb.’
  3. Schedule appropriate times for ‘Do Not Disturb’ to activate automatically.

This feature ensures that notifications don’t interrupt you, akin to one aspect of traditional Airplane Mode.

Using Terminal to Disconnect

For the more tech-savvy users, the Terminal application can disable all network interfaces.

  1. Open ‘Terminal’ from your Applications folder.
  2. Type the command sudo ifconfig en0 down (to disable Ethernet) and sudo ifconfig awdl0 down (to disable AirDrop).
  3. Press Enter and input your password when prompted.

Remember, using Terminal is for advanced users, as incorrect commands can affect system functionality.

Create a Customized Automation

Automator is a built-in macOS application that can create a sequence of actions to replicate Airplane Mode.

  1. Open ‘Automator’ and select ‘New Document.’
  2. Choose ‘Application’ and search for ‘Network.’
  3. Drag ‘Turn Wi-Fi Off,’ ‘Turn Bluetooth Off,’ ‘Get Specified URLs,’ and ‘Display Webpages’ into the workflow.
  4. Save the application for easy access.

You’ve now created a simple automation that partially mimics Airplane Mode with a single click, a convenience for frequent flyers.

Use Parental Controls for Managed Disconnection

Setting up Parental Controls can also manage the connectivity of the MacBook.

  1. Go to System Preferences and select ‘Screen Time.’
  2. Click on ‘Options’ and activate Screen Time.
  3. Use the ‘App Limits’ and ‘Downtime’ features to control access to network services.

While it’s not Airplane Mode, Parental Controls help manage your connectivity effectively.

Third-Party Applications

There are third-party applications available that can manage your network settings and simulate Airplane Mode.

  1. Search for a reputable network management application online.
  2. Download and install the application.
  3. Use the settings within the app to control your MacBook’s connectivity.

These applications often provide a more straightforward method to disable all network interfaces at once, though they may come with a learning curve and potential security considerations.

Keep the MacBook Completely Off

When all else fails, or when required by airline regulations, keep the MacBook powered down.

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top left corner.
  2. Select ‘Shut Down’ from the dropdown menu.

With the MacBook off, there’s no chance of any network activity. This method is foolproof but does mean you can’t use your device during this time.

In summary, while MacBooks do not have a one-click Airplane Mode feature, by following the steps above you can replicate its efects. Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, cellular data, and location services, setting Do Not Disturb mode, and potentially using Terminal, Automator, Parental Controls, third-party apps, or simply shutting down your MacBook can help. These measures importantly conserve battery life and reduce distractions, though they also limit the functionality of your device during that period.

In conclusion, navigating the digital skies with your MacBook can be seamless and straightforward. Although there isn’t a direct ‘Airplane Mode’ button, the series of steps outlined provides a clear manual approach to achieving the same disconnected state. By walking through the process of disabling various wireless connections and services, you empower yourself to fly without digital interruptions, safeguard your privacy, and potentially save on battery life. Remember, while disconnectivity is a boon during flights, reconnecting with the world is just as easy once you’re back on the ground.


  1. Does Airplane Mode turn off all wireless features of my MacBook?
    In a MacBook, there isn’t a dedicated Airplane Mode. However, manually turning off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other network connections will mimic the effect of Airplane Mode.

  2. Is it safe to use a MacBook during a flight with these settings?
    Yes, once all wireless transmissions are disabled, using your MacBook on a flight is generally considered safe and in compliance with airline regulations.

  3. How can I quickly re-enable all connections after landing?
    You can quickly re-enable each service by clicking on the respective symbols (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) in the menu bar and selecting ‘Turn Wi-Fi On’ or ‘Turn Bluetooth On.’ If you have used Terminal or Automator, you will need to reverse the commands or run the workflow again to re-establish connection.

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