Table of Contents
- Coloring Rules
- Physical and Logical Grouping
- Network Table Terms
inSSIDer is a WiFi optimization and troubleshooting tool. It scans for wireless networks with your WiFi adapter, so you can visualize their signal strengths, and what channels they are using. It also lists a lot of useful information about each network.
Currently, inSSIDer on Mac is beta software so right now it doesn't have all of the capabilities of the Windows version.
In order to use inSSIDer, you will need a MetaGeek account which you can create here: https://my.metageek.com/register
Currently, inSSIDer on Mac most closely matches inSSIDer on Windows running without a paid MetaGeek Plus subscription. Eventually, we will be adding some of the paid features you can find in the Windows version to the Mac version and at that time, those paid features will require a MetaGeek Plus subscription.
inSSIDer is great for:
- Picking the best channel for your access point
- Performing channel-planning on a multi-AP network
- Avoiding interference
- Performing coverage checks
- Optimizing wireless networks
Networks Table, Details Pane, and Networks Graph
inSSIDer Office shows information in three different ways:
|Networks Table||Shows a list of all of the nearby wireless access points, wireless networks, or channels.|
|Details Pane||Shows details about the selected access point, wireless network, or channel. Click on a line item in the Networks Table to reveal the associated Details Pane.|
|Networks Graph||Shows a graphical representation of nearby wireless networks, what their signal strengths are, and how they share channels and overlap with each other.|
Open and Close the Details Pane
To open the Details Pane in any grouping mode, click on the associated line item. To close the pane, click the X button.
Physical, Logical, and Channel Grouping
inSSIDer also groups access points, networks, and channels in three different ways:
|Radios||Groups virtual SSIDs on the same access point together|
|Networks||Groups access points with the same SSID together|
|Channels||Groups channels together|
Note: Each group has a dedicated section below.
inSSIDer links networks, access points, and channels together with the Network Drilldown button, and can be found in most tables. Click on the Network Drilldown button to visit the associated item.
inSSIDer draws a network shape in the 2.4 and 5 GHz channels graph for every network it hears with your WiFi adapter. Each network shape is centered over the channel that it is on, and the height of the shape shows how loud the network is (represented by amplitude).
802.11b network (max rate of 2 or 11 Mbps) will be drawn with a curved top.
802.11 a/g/n networks will be drawn with a flat top.
inSSIDer lists all of the networks that it can hear with your WiFi adapter.
Above the Networks Table, you'll find the filter bar. You can filter by SSID, MAC Address, Channel, andSignal Strength
Type in the data you wish to filter by, and hit the enter key to apply the filter. Clicking the X next to your filter will remove it.
inSSIDer Office color-codes all networks and network groups. The color scheme is consistent throughout in swatches next to network names, network shapes, selected items, and details fields.
Unselected networks with no grouping applied, most networks get their own color.
Selected Network Mode
Shows relationships between networks, depending on which network is selected.
|Red||A network that partially overlaps with your network, causing adjacent-channel interference (worst)|
|Yellow||A network that shares a channel with your network (better)|
|Blue||Selected Physical (radio) or Logical (ESSID) group|
|Purple||Selection within a Physical or Logical group|
|Grey||Unselected network that doesn't relate to or overlap with your selected network|
inSSIDer groups access points by Radios (multiple SSID's on one access point) or Logically (multiple access points with the same SSID, making them all part of one ESSID).
With Radio Grouping, all virtual SSID's on the same radio are grouped together. Each line item then represents one physical radio on an access point that is the host of more than one SSID.
Radio Grouping Mode works best when you are working with a single access point. A common use case scenario for this mode might be picking the best channel for a home wireless network.
Radio Details Pane
The Radio Details Pane displays:
|Radio Signal||Current signal strength in dBm|
|Channel||Current channel of the access point|
|Recommended||The channel that inSSIDer recommends for the best performance|
|Strongest Overlapping Radio||The loudest radio that is on an adjacent (partially overlapping) channel|
|Strongest Co-Channel Radio||The loudest radio that is sharing the same channel as your network|
Radio Details Table
The Radio Details Table lists each virtual SSID on the selected radio, along with each respective MAC Address and Security type.
Signal Strength Over Time Graph
Towards the bottom, you can view the signal strength of your radio over time (blue), as well as the signal strength of the strongest overlapping radio (red), and the strongest co-channel radio (yellow).
With Network Grouping, all access points with the same SSID are grouped together.
This mode works best when your network has more than one access point. A common use case scenario for Network Grouping is ensuring that your corporate network provides adequate or continuous coverage throughout a building.
Network Group Table
Each access point that belongs to the Network Group (or ESSID Group) is listed in the table.
The Logical Group Table displays:
|Radio||The MAC Address of the Radio.|
|Channel||Wireless channel that the access point is on.|
|PHY Type||802.11 protocols supported by the access point.|
|Security||The security protocol that the access is configured to support.|
|Min||Minimum supported data rate. Slower data rates fly farther, but cause more channel utilization.|
|Max||Maximum supported data rate.|
|Signal||The amplitude level (loudness or signal strength) of the wireless network as seen by your computer’s wireless adapter.|
|Clients||The client count reported from the QBSS information element. Note that this field is only broadcast by certain access points. The box will be empty if your access point doesn't include this information element|
Signal Strength Over Time Graph
Towards the bottom, you can view the signal strength of all of the access points in your Logical Group. The colors are matched with the Logical Group Table, but you can click on a network in the table to highlight it in the graph.
Channels mode focuses on the health of each WiFi channel.
The Channels table shows:
|WiFi Utilization||How often WiFi activity is occurring on the channel, or how often the channel is being "Utilized" from the 802.11 perspective. Only one wireless device can use a channel at a time, so you want channel utilization to be as low as possible. This is only derived from the AP’s QBSS element (only on supported vendors).|
|On-Channel Networks||Amount of wireless networks on the same channel. The fewer, the better.|
|Max Signal||Maximum signal strength of on-channel networks. Analogous to the yellow signal strength over time graph in other parts of inSSIDer.|
|Overlapping Networks||Amount of wireless networks that are partially overlapping with the channel. The fewer, the better. Partially overlapping networks cause one of the worst types of interference.|
|Max Overlapping Signal||Maximum signal strength of overlapping networks. Analogous to the red signal strength over time graph in other parts of inSSIDer.|
|802.11B Present||Legacy data rates (1, 2, 5.5, 11 mbps) are implemented on a network using this channel, which may slow WiFi traffic for all networks on this channel.|
Common acronyms and technical terms that inSSIDer Office uses:
802.11 – The letters displayed in this column inform you of the 802.11 protocols in use by that Access Point.
Access Point - This is the hardware that WiFi devices wirelessly connect to. Sometimes these will function as a router, and are often referred to as a wireless router.
Channel – Each wireless network operates on a specific WiFi channel. Channels 1-14 are in the 2.4 GHz frequency range, while channels 36-165 are in the 5 GHz range. For best performance in the 2.4 GHz band we recommend channels 1, 6, and 11.
* (Asterisk) - In ESSID grouping, an asterisk/star indicates that the channel is 40 MHz wide.
Co-Channel Network - Every access point on the same channel cooperates and negotiates opportunities to transmit. This can slow down performance for every connected device.
MAC Address - This is a unique identifier for a wireless network or BSSID.
Overlapping Network - Stations and access points on an overlapping channels talks over each other on overlapping frequencies. This causes transmission corruption and slow performance for connected devices. Overlapping networks have a more severe impact on performance than co-channel networks.
Security – inSSIDer will display networks utilizing the following standard security settings: Open (Unsecured), WEP, WPA-Personal, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Personal, and WPA2-Enterprise.
Open Lock - Indicates a network that is unsecured. None of the data on the network is encrypted.
Broken Lock - WEP, which is a very broken and insecure encryption method. This encryption method can be broken into in a matter of minutes.
Closed Lock - WPA or WPA2 wireless security encryption. These are the best security options available today. We recommend WPA with WPS disabled, which is the most secure.
Signal - The amplitude level of the wireless network as seen by your computer’s wireless adapter, also known as RSSI or “Received Signal Strength Indication”. inSSIDer provides a line graph representing the signal strength over time.
SSID - Abbreviation of “Service Set Identifier”, which is the name an 802.11 wireless network uses to identify itself.
Link Icon - Indicates which access point you are currently connected to. This icon also appears within an ESS, so you can see which specific access point you are connected to on your network.