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Question: Connect Airport Express via WiFi to Captive Network

I am attempting to connect an Airport Extreme and Time Capsule to a captive WiFi network that requires browser authentication. I have tried several permutations of the Airport Utility to no avail. I do not have access to any Ethernet ports or routers.

Has anyone successfully connected or extended a captive Wifi network using a browser portal? The end goal is to back up my machines to Time Capsule and create a home network with the Airport Express.

Many thanks,


null-OTHER, null

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May 26, 2018 2:16 PM in response to wjid In response to wjid

You will not be successful with the Extreme or TC. They are not capable of joining a wireless network.

Only the express has this functionality.

It is possible to use express.. which is then ethernet connected to Extreme or TC.. which is then setup to create a wireless network and provide Time Machine access. It is clumsy but if you have no choice it can work.

Bob is expert and can fill you in on the details.

May 26, 2018 2:16 PM

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May 26, 2018 2:29 PM in response to wjid In response to wjid

Do it in stages..

Stage one.. plug the Express into a computer by ethernet.. if you don't have ethernet computer (even a PC).. you will need to buy thunderbolt to ethernet adapter or USB to ethernet.

Configure the Express to join a wireless network.. and this should allow the captive portal to open on the computer.. login so you have internet access. If this is successful you should be able to then plug the TC into the Express..

If you cannot get past this step then the Express is unsuitable and you will need to get a different brand of wireless bridge.

Stage two

in place of the computer (I doubt both WAN and LAN will work if you have a gen2.. only LAN will work .. most captive portal systems will only deliver a single IP. The express in bridge is also restricted to straight through connection.. wireless to one ethernet). Setup the TC as a router.. plug ethernet from express to the WAN port of the TC.. but if the IP delivered over the wireless network is 10.x.x.x change the TC local IP to 192.168.x.x

You do that on the Network Options Tab.. via the DHCP settings which is weird but how apple does it.

It is very common to use 10.x.x.x addresses on distributed wifi systems.. so both the change of IP and double NAT are essential to get this working.

Screenshots from airport utility are vital to help troubleshoot your problems.. both the express and TC setup.

May 26, 2018 2:29 PM

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May 26, 2018 2:46 PM in response to wjid In response to wjid

The Express will join conventional WiFi networks that use WPA2 Personal or WPA/WPA2 Personal security, but a captive portal probably requires a special type of authentication called Enterprise.

Unfortunately, Apple's setup "wizard" will not present Enterprise authentication options when you try to set up the Express using the standard methods

What operating system are you running on your Mac? We ask because there may be a way to manually set up the Express to see if it might work. I don't have a captive portal here to test the setup, nor have I tried this in the past.

You mentioned that you wanted the AirPort Express to "create" a home network. It cannot do this if it is set up to join a 3rd party network. With great luck, the Express will provide an Ethernet signal to the Time Capsule, and it is the Time Capsule that will provide your wireless network.

It is not technically correct to say that the Express will function as your modem in this type of setup, but in a way this is similar to the type of service that it will provide.

There are no guarantees that any of this work, but we can tell you how to try if we have the information about what operating system your Mac is running, or if you are using AirPort Utility on a PC.....and you have the time to experiment with low expectations about success.

May 26, 2018 2:46 PM

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May 26, 2018 9:34 PM in response to wjid In response to wjid

Unfortunately, the newer bare bones 6.x version of AirPort Utility on these Macs does not display the Enterprise security option when the Express is set up to "Join a wireless network". Only the normal WPA2 Personal and WPA/WPA2 Personal settings are displayed as an option for wireless security, so you won't be able to use the 6.x version of AirPort Utility to set up the AirPort Express.

User uploaded file

If you have an older Mac that is running Leopard (10.5.x) or Snow Leopard (10.6.x), or a PC with AirPort Utility for Windows installed on the device, the full 5.6.x version of AirPort Utility does display the wireless security options for two common versions of Enterprise.

User uploaded file

If you don't have an older Mac or PC, maybe you could borrow a PC from a friend for 30 minutes or so to try out the Enterprise settings to see if they might work.

Wish that I had a way to test whether this might work or not, but I do not have access to a captive portal network to verify things. All that I can do is suggest the settings that I would try if I were trying to connect to this type of network.

May 26, 2018 9:34 PM

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May 27, 2018 2:56 PM in response to Bob Timmons In response to Bob Timmons

Thanks for the detailed responses Bob. I spent most of my day and have tried about every permutation including various versions of Airport Utility on Windows to no avail. I guess I will have to bring the Airport Express and Time Capsule to the University and use them in my office, where I have a more traditional setup. Thanks again for your assistance.

May 27, 2018 2:56 PM

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Question: Connect Airport Express via WiFi to Captive Network