Have you ever found yourself in need of an Internet connection on your desktop or laptop computer, but your home connection is down or you have no access to public WiFi? If you have an Android phone with an active mobile data connection, 3G or 4G usually, then you can often harness it to connect your other device by way of a feature called tethering. Tethering works in a number of ways: your phone can act as a wireless hotspot that creates a WiFi signal to which your other device can connect; similarly, it can transmit the signal via Bluetooth; and it can also provide a connection through a USB cable between the two devices. Today we will focus on the latter method of USB tethering.
As a quick aside about tethering in general, using your mobile data connection contributes toward your monthly data limit, regardless of the device on which you use it. If you have unlimited data, some carriers may disable your ability to use the built-in tethering options on your phone. Using other methods of tethering to circumvent that restriction may violate carrier policy. As long as you use your data responsibly and not in excess, however, then using the tethering capabilities of your device is perfectly acceptable.
While the Play Store has a number of tethering applications on offer, we will be using PdaNet, a highly regarded app with many downloads and positive reviews. The obvious benefit of using an app like PdaNet is that it allows you to tether without rooting your device, a feature for those of you who like to play it safe. Let us follow the steps necessary to set up PdaNet.
In this demonstration, we will be following the set up instructions for a Windows computer (the app works with Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 and Macs too).
2. Download and install the PdaNet program on your computer (additional download option for Mac users here). Follow the prompts. If you installed drivers for your phone on your computer previously, you may come to the following screen:
If you believe you have the latest drivers for your phone, then select “No”. Otherwise, select “Yes” and PdaNet will install them for you.
Now the installation will prompt you to enable USB debugging on your phone. Open Settings > Developer Options > Turn Developer Options “On” (your options may look different depending on your phone or Android firmware; I am using a Samsung Galaxy Nexus with CyanogenMod) > Enable USB Debugging (be sure to disable USB Debugging and turn Developer Options “Off” any time you are not tethering).
3. Connect the phone and computer with the USB cable. Then select “OK” on the installation prompt.
If all goes well, you will see the following screens.
4. Open PdaNet and select “USB Tether Mode”.
You will see the following screen when the device is connecting.
And then you will have the option to “Turn Off PdaNet” once it is connected.
And there you have it! You are now using the Internet connection from your phone on your computer. The app even displays various useful stats as you use the connection.
And as an added bonus, PdaNet includes a desktop text messaging functionality. You may have noticed the option on the final screen of the installation process, but if you chose to disable it there, all you need to do is right-click the PdaNet icon in your system tray, select “Start SMS Agent…”, and a small window in which you can send and receive text messages will open. How cool is that?
And that concludes our lesson for setting up USB tethering with your Android phone and Windows computer. If you have any other categories you would like us to tackle, any apps you would like us to review, or any lessons about Android you would like to learn, please let us know in the comments. Thank you for reading!
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