Millions of people still connect to the Internet using a modem that dials out over ordinary phone lines. But the balance is rapidly tipping in favor of people connecting over higher-speed wires, using so-called broadband connections that are always on: cable modems, DSL, or corporate networks. This chapter explains how to set up each one (and how to use each with a wireless AirPort system).
In this chapter, you'll be spending a lot of time in the Network pane of System Preferences (Figure 10-1). (Choose →System Preferences; click Network.) This list summarizes the ways your Mac can connect to the Internet or an office network—Ethernet, AirPort wireless, Bluetooth, FireWire, cellular modem card, and so on—and how each connection is doing.
What you may not realize is that the order of the network connections listed here is important. That's the sequence the Mac uses as it tries to get online. If one of your programs needs Internet access, and the first method isn't hooked up, the Mac switches to the next available connection automatically.
In fact, Mac OS X can maintain multiple simultaneous network connections—Ethernet, AirPort, dial-up, even FireWire—a feature known as multihoming.
This feature is especially relevant for laptops. When you open your Web browser, your laptop might first check to see if it's at the office, ...