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Use Timed Access Control to restrict when devices can connect to your Apple base station Wi-Fi

Glenn Fleishman | Jan. 4, 2016
Your AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule router can block certain devices at certain times of day, based on the device's MAC address. Here's how to set it up.

Enable timed access to the network

To set up timed access, follow these steps:

  1. Launch AirPort Utility (found in /Applications/Utilities/).
  2. Select your base station, and click Edit. (Enter its password if prompted.)
  3. Click the Network tab.
  4. Check the Enable Access Control box, then click Timed Access Control.

Now you’re ready to configure restrictions. Figure out what restrictions you’ll want to have ahead of time. For instance, you might choose to disable access between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekends.

(Note: You will have to restart the base station after configuring, so be sure that you’re ready to do so without damaging other operations in progress, like a sync, upload, or download.)

When you first view the Timed Access Control tab view after enabling access control, you see a prefilled entry placed there by AirPort Utility that reads “Unlimited (default)”. This entry is set to Everyday and All Day. In other contexts, you might call this default “allow everybody at all times.”

This sets a default policy for Timed Access for any machine for which a specific limit has not been set. The Unlimited entry can be used to ban or limit all access for MAC addresses that haven’t been entered into this list. You can modify this entry by selecting it and making changes under Wireless Access Times. You can even changes its name by clicking that name in the list.

To add more clients, click the plus sign under Wireless Clients, and enter a description and MAC address, which you can paste in. With that item selected, use the popup menus for day of week and time of day in the Wireless Access Times list. You can add any number of condition, and get pretty baroque, with multiple ranges of hours for every day of the week.

private i airport utility define time range
The Access Control screen lets you add entries for each device you want to limit, or set overall policies.

For instance, if you want to set access for a given device to 6 pm to 9 pm on weekdays and 8 am to 9 pm on weekdays, you’d add two conditions:

  • Weekdays, then Between, 6:00 PM, and 9:00 PM
  • Weekend, then Between, 8:00 AM, and 9:00 PM

When you’re done with all your entries, click Update, and the base station will restart with the new restrictions.

If you’ve managed somehow to lock out your own Mac, you can always connect to your router via ethernet to access AirPort Utility and fix the problem!

Limitations and propagation

This option has a lot of limitations, though it can meet the mark for common purposes.