Fixing the Empty Wireless Cone on My MacBook Air

There has been an issue which has been bugging me for the last couple of days, and tonight Mitchell and I found a solution. I thought I had better post about it, as I’ll bet that others have run into the same…

When I bought the MacBook Air I restored it to the MacBook Pro backup copy I had stored on Time Machine, and the restore went without a hitch…but for one exception: I had an empty wireless cone in my menu bar. Instead of showing a wireless signal indicated by bars, the cone was completely empty – even when the wireless network was definitely on.

Wireless Gear Tips and Tricks MacBooks Laptops Apple

If I would restart my laptop or even just shut the lid, the wireless network would disconnect. I would click on the wireless cone icon and it would then report that the Airport was not configured. Opening the airport configuration panel would bring up the Open Network Preferences option, and I would then have to manually configure the network…each and every time. The only high point to the process was that it did at least remember my network password, but it was otherwise a true PITA.

Mitchell and I did some searching tonight, and we found this post by Dave Marsh in the Apple Support Forums:

Hi, I just received my MacBook Air today and after setting it up and migrating my environment over from my old PowerBook G4, everything seems to be working, except…

the AirPort icon in the menu bar is displaying the empty/open pie with no signal strength, although I’m connected to the Internet just fine as I type this reply.

If I click on the icon it reports AirPort: Not configured, and displays only the Open Network Preferences… option in the menu.

I’ve tried going into Network Preferences and disconnecting/reconnecting, deleting my configuration and re-entering it, to no avail.

Anyone else experiencing this issue?

Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Me! 😆

Two days later, with no replies, Dave posted “Well, I’ve resolved this issue for me. Another poster had reported that many users are migrating their old configurations to their new MacBook Air portables, only to find they have connectivity issues afterwards, with other anomalies noticeable. The solution was to perform a migration and UNselect the transfer Network Settings during the migration.”

I found the solution which would work for me in his final paragraph, something he didn’t actually try, but I would because I wasn’t interested in reinstalling “the MacBook Air’s software from the supplied installer DVDs, and upon reboot and selecting the migration option from another Mac or volume, to be sure that the Transfer Network Settings box was unchecked before proceeding.” Oh heck no…

Instead, I followed his untried idea…

There’s a second possible solution which I did not try, but may be worth a shot if you’re facing a two hour reinstall anyway. If you go to /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration and move all those .plists to the Trash, then reboot, you may find your network configuration completely hosed, thereby giving you the chance to go into the Network Preferences control panel and reconfigure everything afresh. If anyone tries that, please post your results.

And you know what? It worked like a charm!

Wireless Gear Tips and Tricks MacBooks Laptops Apple   Wireless Gear Tips and Tricks MacBooks Laptops Apple

Dave, I owe you a beer; thank you! 😀

Link: Topic : Airport Menu Bar indicator grey – but network connected

About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
I've had a fascination with all types of gadgets and gizmos since I was a child, beginning with the toy robot that my grandmother gave my brother - which I promptly "relieved him of" in 1973. I'm a self-confessed gadget magpie. I can't tell you how everything works, but I'm known world-wide for using a product until I have a full understanding of what it does, what its limitations are, and if it excels in any given area ... or not.

9 Comments on "Fixing the Empty Wireless Cone on My MacBook Air"

  1. Big YAY! Thank you for your help, and thank you DAVE! 🙂

  2. Judie,

    did I miss something?? Did you ditch your MBP or the Air? So glad that you got your wireless working! It can seriously suck when your computer doesn’t work the way it suppsoed to.

  3. Nah, I didn’t ditch the MPB. It ditched me. 😛 The Air is my backup…

  4. I never heard the end to the drive dying story. Do you have it written up somewhere?

  5. Judie, you say you owe Dave a beer, got to Foamee ( to leave him a virtual beer.


  6. @silk_p – That’s cute! Only problem is that all I know about Dave is the name he left in the forum. So here is a great big foamy beer for Dave! <<-- 😆

  7. Really work like charm….thanks for the post and two thumbs up for you!