Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 7.31.26 PM

AirPort Utility is a built-in Mac app that is used to configure and control Wi-Fi networks using Apple’s AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and Time Capsule. The AirPort Extreme is a base station router like you would use when setting up your Wi-Fi network. An AirPort Express is used to extend a Wi-Fi network to a larger area, or can be used to stream audio using AirPlay. A Time Capsule is a combination of an AirPort Extreme and an external hard drive, and comes in 2 TB or 3 TB. It automatically backs up all Macs on your network.

AirPort Utility has the ability to set limits on what time of day the network (and therefore the internet) can be accessed from specific wireless devices. This can be helpful in situations where parents want to keep kids off of the internet after a certain time. Time limits can be set for different times on different days of the week.

There is an iOS version of the app, but it cannot implement time limits. Therefore, you have to set this up using AirPort Utility on your Mac. You can find AirPort Utility by going to your Applications folder (or the stack on your Dock) and looking for the Utilities folder. AirPort Utility is inside this folder. You can also search for it with Spotlight.

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 3.12.47 PM

AirPort Utility will then display theAirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, or Time Capsule connected to your network. Click on it, then click the Edit button at the bottom right.

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 3.14.38 PM

Click on the Network tab at the top, and check the Enable Access Control check-box. Then click Timed Access Control.


Timed Access Control is where you will indicate which devices are allowed to access the internet at what times. A separate description and time frames will be needed for each device. Start by clicking the plus sign under the Wireless Clients section, and type a name like “My teenager’s iPad” in the Description field. In the MAC Address field, type the MAC Address of the device (more on that in a bit).


In the Wireless Access Times section, set the days and times that the device will be allowed to access the internet and click Save. Repeat this process as necessary, beginning with a new description, for each device you want to put time limits on.


To determine the MAC address of an iOS device, go to Settings -> General -> About -> Wi-Fi Address.

wifi add

To determine the MAC address of a Mac, choose About This Mac from the Apple logo on the main menu. Then click the System Report button and choose Locations on the left under Network.


Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 5.43.16 PMYou have now successfully setup time limits for the devices connected to your network. Each device will stop connecting to the internet at the determined time each day.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

22 Responses to “How-to: Set time limits on your Wi-Fi network using AirPort Utility”

  1. Vid Logar says:

    You are wrong you can manage timed access from iOS app. So update the article.


  2. I use time limits with my Airport Extreme and it work very well. It is super easy to setup.
    In my opinion there is one problem with it. It has no way to stop, within your network, from someone messing with time limits or your Airport base stations using the Airport Utility. There is even a Show Password command under Base Station in the menu bar, that shows all passwords you use with that.
    If there is a way to protect it in anyway, let me know.


    • If you password your base station, you can’t access the “Show Password” or any other settings until the password is entered.

      It is probably pulling your password from your Mac OS X Keychain if you didn’t uncheck the box to “Remember this password in my keychain” the first time you logged in. Just remove the base station keychain item from Keychain Access and open AirPort Utility again.


  3. I have used time limits on my AirPort Extreme and my son MacBook Pro somehow kept changing MAC address and forces him to stay on longer than the time limits. How is that possible?? Has my 16 year old son found a way around it?

    I had to keep re-creating it every time he is on it but does not hep me stop him from using the internet after certain hours. Can anyone explain this and how to fix it?


    • I think your -clever- son is spoofing Mac Addresses (telling the AirPort Extreme he has another MAC-Addres), so your son is actively changing the address because he’s under scrutiny.
      The only work around I can think off now is:
      (1) a good father to son talk or:
      (2) change your DHCP/NAT settings to do the following: only KNOWN computers with their respective MAC address get access (assingned an ip-address). In doing so changing the MAC address will kick him off the internet. While keeping his MAC-address will keep him on (as long as he is allowed, by timed-access).
      (3) regain control over his MBP by degrading his admin status to user and not giving him an admin account. He won’t be able to install stuff or change settings (unthinkable for a 16y/o I guess). And really a last resort…


    • You can spoof any MAC address on just about any device. There are many ways to do this and probably the easiest would be an app like MacDaddyX. KisMac/Kismet/AirCrack-ng can also sniff MAC addresses passively, so physically gaining access to an approved device to write down the MAC address isn’t even needed. If I remember correctly, AirPort Utility may also display the connected MAC addresses from the status window.

      What you need to do is set “All Other Units (default)” in the AirPort settings to “No Access”. It won’t keep him from using the MAC addresses from your other units, but he’ll have a limited number of addresses to use. I don’t believe the AirPort base station will allow another unit with the same MAC to kick off an already existing connected device.

      The only way to actually get around this would be by setting up something like a RADIUS server and telling the AirPort base station to use RADIUS for authentication. His connectivity to the base station would be restricted by a username and password and not by the device. Schedules can be set per username that prevents this sort of spoofing.


    • Ron Jape says:

      Make sure the Everybody Else choice is set to “No Access”. That way only MAC addresses you enter can use the network. It’s a bit of a pain because every device that uses wifi has to be added, but I found once I had the majority of devices added, it wasn’t that bad to update new people on occasion.


  4. Aldo Esplay says:

    Works fine with iOS Airport Utility. Select base station–>Edit–>Advanced–>Timed Acces.


  5. If you have a second router (Airport Express) to extend the range do you have to do this on both routers or just in the main router (Airport Extreme)


  6. John Matthew says:

    Thanks for the quick tip. I have never used this option, but in the past I was seriously looking to control the use of my bandwidth and connectivity of teenagers in my house. Everyone is just up to connect with internet and get answers.


  7. Is there a way to restrict adult content?


  8. Its a great feature, but takes time to get to – and there’s the inevitable TC reboot. Anyone know of an app that *just* manages the timed-access part of TimeCapsule? (very practical way to manage teenage access times)


  9. I need to limit my son’s access on his windows based devices. Do I need to look on each individual device to find this, or is there a way to see this on my Mac desktop where I control my AirPort extreme? He is tied into my airport extreme with three windows/microsoft devices and one iPod and might be tied in on some handheld gaming devices like a nintendo.


  10. I am having a challenge. The weekend field includes Friday and Sunday, as it should. So as a result, I can’t use the weekend option if I want to place a cut off time for Friday night at 11:59pm and Sunday night at 11:00pm. Then I used the weekday field to cover Monday through Thursday with a cut off time of 11:00pm.
    This should work, but one of the two devices stops at 11:00pm on Friday and the other at 11:59pm. To fix this I set separate times for each day of the week (7settings one for each day). This idea doesn’t work because you can only have 4 settings. (example; Week days, Friday, Saturday & Sunday). Does anyone have a fix for that? I love Apple, but sometimes….


  11. Does this method work if someone connects to the router via an ethernet cord?


  12. John says:

    Great for setting a time for homework for the teenagers!!


  13. I made the primary network accessible to just my devices and task the Guest network as the “kids network”. Now I just shut the Guest network off when I want them off it.