Quicktip: Getting a little more free wifi with a new MAC address

Every now and then I find myself in an airport, a train station, or some other place where wifi is given out for free… for 10 minutes. Maybe 20 minutes.

Invariably, whatever I’m trying to get done takes me a couple minutes longer than anticipated and ::poof:: there goes my connection. Recently, this happened to me at Midway airport in Chicago, and here’s what gave me a little extra time.

The following assumes running OS X with Google Chrome.

  • Close existing browser tabs but do not close Chrome.
  • Switch wireless networks to something that isn’t the one you’ll eventually connect to.
  • Open the terminal, and get a shiny new MAC address (you can skip this if you have one in mind):
  • Next set your MAC address with:
  • Check that your MAC is what you expect (try a new address if your desired one doesn’t take)
  • Change wireless networks back to your desired network.
  • Open an incognito window and go through the process of signing up for the free internets.
  • Internet like crazy!

At the end of the day, remember that you’re using a service in a manner it was not intended for. Don’t be a jerk. If you need a little more time to finish up what you’re working on, you’re not weighing down the network. If you’re doing this trick 5 times back to back, you might consider coughing up the six¬†bucks…


Partially written on spotty wifi at Midway airport.

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