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Douglas Urner Level 1 (15 points)

Just in case you'd like to use AirPort Utility 5.6.1 on Mountain Lion (and probalby Lion as well), here's how to install it:


  1. Download the disk image (you can find it here:
  2. Mount the disk image and drag the install package (AirPortUtility.pkg) to your desktop.
  3. Fire up Terminal and prepare to show off…
  4. Make a temporary directory and cd into it: mkdir tmp ; cd tmp
  5. Extract the Payload file from the install package with xar, here's the command: xar -x -f ~/Desktop/AirPortUtility.pkg Payload
  6. The result will be a directory named AirPortUtility.pkg (just like the file, but now you can move into it to get the files you want). Inside will be a file called Payload that is a compressed archive of AirPort
  7. So our next move is to extract the app. Here's the command: gzcat AirPortUtility.pkg/Payload | tar -xf -
  8. When it finished there will be three new folders Applications, Library, and System. Your nice new copy of AirPort Utility 5.6.1 will be in the Utilities folder inside of the Applications folder. Use Finder to rename it (assuming you want to keep version 6 as well) then drag it to your Applications/Utilities folder.
  9. The other two folders hold the AirPort Base Station Agent and its supporting files. I'm not sure if you need/want these or not. As best I can figure the agent does two things: it checks for updates for AirPort Utility and it monitors AirPort base stations for problems. You probably already have a version running as it comes with the system and it seems to know how to talk to both versions of AirPort Utility (I got nagged about updating).
  10. The final step is to launch AirPort Utility and confirm that it works. You'll probably want to go into preferences and turn off the option to check for updates. If all is good you can remove the temporary directory: cd .. ; rm -rf tmp (or drag it into the trash with Finder).


That pretty much does it. I hope it helps somebody out there.

MacBook Pro (15-inch 2.4/2.2 GHz), OS X Mountain Lion, 4 GB
  • volli Level 1 (0 points)

    great article!

    thanks a lot!!!

    minor detail: step 7 can be simplified to "tar -xvfz <filename>"

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 (98,124 points)

    It is a lot easier for most users to simply copy AirPort Utility 5.6 from another Mac or restore it from a previous Time Machine backup.


    Or, use Pacifist to extract the file manually from the download package.

  • icibaqu Level 1 (0 points)

    Douglas Urner, i freaking L O V E you. 

    Thank you SO much.


    Bob - you can't restore an airport from time machine because you get an error message that airport utility is essential to osx so can't be modified or trashed.

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 (98,124 points)
    you can't restore an airport from time machine because you get an error message that airport utility is essential to osx so can't be modified or trashed.


    I had no problems doing this a few weeks ago, or just a few minutes ago.  


    Restore AirPort Utility 5.6 to the desktop, then drag it into the Utilities folder in Mountain Lion.


    I never post about something....unless I've done it myself first.

  • icibaqu Level 1 (0 points)

    Hm. I bet the issue was that I was restoring it in the same place. Intersting. I am also running Mountain Lion (probably hence the reason I'm trying to resolve Airport Utility 6.1 limitations)

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 (98,124 points)

    Try restore to the desktop, as I originally posted.  You will be asked for your admin password of course.

  • icibaqu Level 1 (0 points)

    it did go there.  Now on the to next issue. Having it actually find my Airport Express (which appears to have vanished from all existence after a hard reset)

  • Douglas Urner Level 1 (15 points)

    I've seen that happen… You might try a wired connection to the AirPort Express.

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 (98,124 points)
    (which appears to have vanished from all existence after a hard reset)


    The Express is now providing a default wireless network with a name like Apple Network xxxxxxx.


    You have to log on to that network password required.....then open AirPort Utility.

  • ritterj Level 1 (0 points)

    Last login: Sun Aug 19 13:20:04 on ttys000

    dhcp0189:~ JoaoRitter$ mkdir tmp ; cd tmp

    mkdir: tmp: File exists

    dhcp0189:tmp JoaoRitter$ xar -x -f ~/Desktop/AirportUtility.pkg Payload

    dhcp0189:tmp JoaoRitter$ gzcat AirPortUtility.pkg/Payload | tar -xf -

    dhcp0189:tmp JoaoRitter$


    This is what my Terminal looks like after inserting the commands. Nothing happens. What am I doing wrong?

  • ritterj Level 1 (0 points)

    nevermind, got it

  • Lammert van Middendorp Level 1 (0 points)

    Great post!


    Strangely enough Airport Utility 6.1 didn't discover my Airport Express (1st Gen). Version 5.6 discovers it instantly!

  • markhhsp Level 1 (0 points)

    Great post, but I feel really nervous dipping into Terminal and I do not have any time machine backups where 5.6 lives, am I out of luck?

  • Jack Cruikshank Level 1 (0 points)

    This is EXACTLY why I left Windows!  I

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