Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network

Tutorial for configuring an Apple AirPort Express as an access point of an existing network:

Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing networkApple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network






This tutorial is for you if:

  • you have just bought an AirPort Express and want to configure it
  • you have an existing newtwork (i.e.: router, modem/router which takes care of DHCP and NAT already)

This tutorial is not for you if:

  • you want to use the AirPort Express as a router / DHCP / NAT server
  • you want to connect the AirPort Express directly to an ADSL or a cable modem
  • you want to use the AirPort Express as a wireless extender for an existing wifi network

Step by step:

1. Connecting the AirPort Express to the existing network

Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network

First of all, connect your AirPort Express to the router / switch using an RJ45* network cable into the left WAN connector.
* Use a straight cable and not a cross cable!
2. Start the “AirPort Utility” application which you can find under Applications / Utilities
Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network
After a few seconds, you should see your AirPort Express base and clicking on it shows some information and an Edit button to access configuration.
Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network
3. Setting up base station configuration
Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network
Nothing special on the tab; just take care of typing a strong enough password to avoid misuse of your AirPort Express.
Note that this is not the key which has to be given to access the network through the access point; this is the password for entering the administration tool.
4. Setting up Internet configuration
Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network
The most important point is to setup the AirPort Express to get his network configuration through DHCP.  This means the AirPort Express will receive an IP address assigned by the router (modem/router) on which it is connected.
5. Setting up wireless
Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network
On this tab, the unit must be configured to create a wireless network and not join or extend a wireless network.  It’s important to use a good security system for controlling access to the wireless network; this is to avoid misuse of the whole network by unwanted users.
The best security system system on this unit is the WPA2; for a personal or SME use, the WPA2 Personal is well advised.
Take care of setting a strong enough password to limit risk of intrusions.
6. Setting up network
Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network
In order to use the AirPort Express as an access point, the “Router Mode” must be configured as Off (Bridge Mode).
This means that a computer connecting through the unit will get its network configuration from the router (modem / router) on which the AirPort Express is connected.
Not using this setting would imply creating a sub-network and disabling the capability for computers connected through the unit to talk to computers connected to the main router.
7. Setting up AirPlay
Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network
If you have an interest in playing music on the AirPort Express, just enable AirPlay and connect your speakers on the jack connector:
Apple AirPort Express > tutorial for setting it up as an access point of an existing network
You will now see on your iPhone / iPod / iTunes connected through the AirPort Express a new symbol* which will allow you to choose where you want your music to be played.

41 Responses to Configuring an Apple AirPort Express as an access point of an existing network

  1. Bruno says:

    Will it work if the primary router is a belgacom bbox2?
    The box is configured in full routing (TV streams and internet are routed on the same LAN using CPL, tv decoder gets address from DHCP
    I would like to just use the aiport as a wifi access point connected on the CPL (and disconnect the poor wifi of the bbox2).

    • admin says:

      Yes, it’s configured that may at my side.

      • Eto says:


        I have Brutele (VOO) cable modem connected to Airport express with an ethernet cable. Airport express is also connected to HIFI for airplay. I have a second Airport express to extend the WIFI to the bed room and study.

        I will end my cable subscription and have Belgacom (Proximus) from November. The telephone line is not near the TV so I will have my Belgacom modem somewhere in the living. I have bought TP-Link TL-PA4015PKIT for establishing a network connection between the Belgacom modem and the digital TV receiver. My question is on the internet side. I do not want to move my Airport express. What can be the possibilities?

        Can I use the WIFI of the Belgacom modem and extend it with Airport express?

        or should I buy TP-Link socket which has two ethernet outputs to connect one to the digital receiver and the other one to the Airport express?


        • admin says:

          I think the best solution remains the old but yet good ethernet cable.
          If not possible, the TP-link is the “less bad” alternative.
          Extending over wifi using bbox is not a solution which will make you happy …. the wifi of the bbox will be too slow and unstable.
          On my side, the two AirPorts are connected on a gigabit switch, which is connected to the bbox by RJ45…. It allow the wifi not to be shown down by a slower peace of network.

          • Eto says:

            Thank you for the reply.

            I will go with TP-link option.
            One follow-up on that, I will connect TP-link to the Airport Express WAN port, can I connect Belgacom TV receiver to LAN port?

          • admin says:

            Here, I won’t be able to answer ….

  2. Mario says:

    I have following scenario: my Telenet is connected to a Smoothwall firewall (Desktop PC with a Linux distro). It’s the Smoothwall that takes care of the internal DNS, DHCP,…

    I have been using Linksys routers as access points (not using the WAN but the LAN port) makes them work as an AP (undocumented but works).

    However, I’d like to use proper AP’s to expand my network wirelessly. I’d like to use the Airport Express (AE) since I already have a TimeCapsule and like to have the option to be able to use this in combination of the Airport Express’s if my Smoothwall would ever fail. So for now, in this scenario, disregard the TimeCapsule as it is not being used for any active network component on my network. Also bear in mind that besides the AE’s, the other network components are non Apple devices (Smoothwall,…)

    So my plan would be to implement multiple AE’s on my existing wired network (they will all be wired connected, not wirelessly).

    Most of the online tutorials only cover adding 1 AE while I want to add 2 or more to the existing network.

    Goal is to cover the full area, getting rid of blind spots.

    My questions:
    – Will implementing multiple AE’s allow me to have roaming: walking from one AE’s range into another AE’s range without loosing connectivity (same IP, etc) ? Eg. Practical use would be looking at Yelo TV on your iPad downstairs and walking to the first floor with it while not interrupting the streaming video on the iPad.

    – The SSID used: should I use the same SSID for all of them or should the SSID’s be different (eg. “Ground Floor”, “First Floor”,…). I would like to have only one SSID in the house but not sure whether this is feasible.

    – What about the channels: when routers are set on auto selection and coincidently the router of your neighbor has the same channel set, they interfere with each other. I know of apartment buildings were all tenants had their channel selection on auto. One tenants caused the router of the next one to start looking for another channel which caused the channel of a third tenant to be renegotiated and so on. At the end every ones router was searching for a new channel every so many minutes, causing an unstable wireless network for all of them.
    In my scenario, I’m not referring to my neighbors (I can see their channel selection and am 5 digits away from them). I’m wondering whether my AE’s would cause a re-selection of another channel if they see each other. If so, I would end up with the same situation as the apartment building, but in my own house.
    I personally think they should all be fixed (not auto) on the same channel (while not the same as the neighbors are using), but not sure…

    Thanks for your inside !

    • admin says:

      As soon as the IP is provided by the DHCP service and has nothing to see with access points, connecting through different access points shouldn’t change the IP address of your device.
      But even if I’m not 100% sure, I’m afraid your device won’t be able to jump from an access point to another without connexion is lost.

    • Bruno says:

      For roaming you need specialised devices, neither AE nor any of the normal devices you buy are able to provide this. In practice you won’t notice the deconnection (if you use the same SSID)

      Yes, using same SSID gives you a bit of that roaming-feel. Otherwise you’ll stay on “groundfloor” with lousy reception until it disappears and connects to “first floor”.

      Fix your channels yourself, auto is never a good idea especially with multiple wireless access points from yourself and your neighbours.

  3. Peter says:

    Thanks for the clear instructions. I have implemented this, but for me, the system would not work using the WAN port. I had to change to the LAN port after configuration. It’s now distributing a great signal, but I’m not convinced it’s optimal, and I’d love to know why it didn’t succeed when I used the WAN port (which you clearly identified above).

  4. Mike says:

    Perfect. Worked brilliantly. My first Ethernet cable was dodgy, but after I switched that out, and did the setup directly connected to the router, I was able to relocate the Express unit across the room via my Solwise home-wiring connectors, hooked it into my trusty 30-year-old Technics receiver, and, damn, does that sound good! :)


  5. […] 7002 via the ethernet port right? If so, just need to setup the airport express as an AP (see link: Configuring an Apple AirPort Express as an access point of an existing network and plug the mio tv to the other port on the airport express (the one labeled […]

  6. Kick says:

    Hi Admin,

    So it’s possible to connect an Airport Express as an acces point to any main router using the instructions above?

    The main router don’t have to be an Apple router to use a AE as AP, right?

    Greetzz, Kick

    • admin says:

      Yes, works that way on different networks where I have set it up.
      You can even have multiple Airport Express that will replicate automatically and let you have a wider wireless range like there is only one access point.

  7. Bong says:

    I just bought an airport express(AE), what I want to do is I had a LAN port in my office where my PC was connected. There is 1 available LAN port. Wifi password in the office is not given to every employees. So is it possible to use AE by taking internet from that extra port so I can connect my iphone to AE? I have tried airport utility showed both internet and airport express is green but still I cannot browse the net. I am surprise because the AE flash status is also green. Anything I missed on the set-up configuration? I have tried both bridge mode, DHCP and NAT, and DHCP though I am not really sure what these things means. I am just an average finance staff without knowledge in net admin. Do I need to have the password given by our ISP to our company? Or is it possible that I can just connect the cable from LAN port to AE without anything from our IT side. Because I noticed if I bring my laptop I can easily connect through that extra port using a cable.

    • admin says:

      As I can read, you should be able to use the extra port to connect your airport express and it gets connected to the network and lets you connect your iPhone through.
      To do so, you should 100% follow this tutorial.

      But, the IT can have setup a wide lot of rules to your network port that could make it’s not possible to have your AE not working correctly!

      You should perhaps ask IT responsible of the network if there is any rule to forbid you to have your own wireless access point; but also take care not to be fired out because what you are trying to do is mainly bringing in a security breach into your company network !!
      Personally, I’d ask for the wifi password of the company and use it on the iPhone, it would cost you a box of chocolate for the IT person and avoid you have to look for a new job ;-)

  8. Mario says:

    I’m happy to see the second part in admin’s answer, because it is something to mention, next to the troubleshooting…

    I understand the reason why ‘Bong’ wants to connect the AE.

    However, connecting a rogue AP on a corporate network is basically a NO GO. If the company wants to foresee internet access for guests/visitors (because that is what you would be needing), they usually have a special setup where all traffic is separated from the corporate traffic in a dedicated VLAN.
    Additionally, they can require a guest/visitor to first visit a webpage where you have to agree with Terms of Use prior to being able to use this dedicated wireless internet access for guests/visitors. They do that to make sure that whatever happens over that connection can not be held against them.

    These setups are typically at companies where you have vendors or suppliers coming in to demonstrate something for which they need a connection to the internet. Or companies that have freelancers/consultants who come on-site and work for them during a fixed period, using their own IT equipment.

    On another note: if they have a good existing wireless setup in your office, they will detect your AE as a rogue AP in no time. So it’s not a matter of IF but rather WHEN they will come over and ask you about it. Even if you would hide it under a shoe box ;o)
    (Via MAC address, switch port, outlet patching scheme, outlets layout in building)

    At my company, it was possible to connect your iPhone to the corporate network if the employee agreed that the iPhone was managed by the IT department. Agreeing to the latter would also allow the employee to install the corporate mailbox on the phone which was an additional benefit.

    In meeting rooms, we had only WiFi connectivity for the corporate employees and next to a ‘red’ network cable on the desk, wireless internet for visitors/guests for whoever was visiting and in need of internet connectivity. That also meant that a visitor was unable to plug in a non-corporate device on the corporate network…

    Just to give you an idea of what is behind the reason why you should not plug in your own AP on your company’s network…

    • Bong says:

      Thanks guys for the reply. I just finally decided not to connect my AP at the office and just increase my mobile data subscription instead. Now I replaced my Linksys E900 home router with the AP and was very happy with its ease of set-up though I cannot notice any significant speed difference as compared to E900.

  9. I need to to thank you for this goo read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it.
    I’ve got you bookmarked to look at nnew stuff you post…

  10. Hannan Ahmad says:

    This is a very good tutorial that makes it easy for anyone to configure such hardware’s. There are not many skills needed to make a good network. It all depends on the persons preference whether they want to implement such a network is entirely up to them.

  11. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day.
    It’s always exciting to read through content from other writers and use
    something from other web sites.

  12. Phil Sandoz says:

    Thanks for the clear instructions. I just got an AE to replace an old Linksys WAP and these instructions made it easy and saved me a headache. I would have thought I was extending the network not create a new one and would have been debugging this. But your comments made it crystal clear. Thanks again –

  13. Ted Bukowski says:

    I configured my Airport Express exactly as this tutorial says. My Apple TV recognizes the Network, ie. the network shows on the TV screen but the ATV does not play anything. When I click on Netflix I get “Netflix is unavailable. Try later.” The same with Hulu.on the NBC app it will play previews, but just buffers until the show should start, then says “An error has occurred.”
    Can you help!?!?

    • admin says:

      On my Apple TV, in settings, there is a menu to test network connectivity. I would take a look toward there to get some more info about the connectivity.

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  17. Brandon says:

    Thanks for putting this together. I was having a heckuva time with my Airport Expresses keeping the internal network working but losing the “Internet” proper. Much appreciated, seems to work well now.

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  20. yeah!! It worked! I was searching for a way to configure my AirPort Express but I didn’t know how I would do that.Now I saw this post and followed the instruction step by step and It get connected.Thank You so much for this post.Seriously ! I mean it.

  21. Ignace says:

    I have an airport extreme and 2 airport expresses that extend the network .
    In the basement . Off the modem I attached another Airport express and connected the modem port directly in the WAN port.
    1last airport express (yes alot he) need this AP to stream music.
    But the signal is not strong enough or the device like a tablet must be near the airport express extending the new AP, from the airport at the modem.
    I thought wiring between the airport at the modem, and the airport that extends would make it better.
    But that means connecting a LAN ethernet port from a base Aiport to aother LAn airport express.
    This went wrong, as they got in conflict I guess.
    My 15meter purchase of ethernet cable for nothing ?
    Those LAN ports should serve certain causes no. Yes, attaching a computer,…
    But instead of airport expresses extending wireless , why not wired.

    I hope you could follow.
    The basement airport created a separate network than the one on the Extreme.

    Any ideas how I can make use of the cable, to enhance streaming ?

  22. ALAN HAGBERG says:

    Following these basic instructions I have just finished configuring and installing 35 Airport Expresses throughout our elementary school. We have an existing wireless network that is very inadequate and doesn’t reach many of the rooms, most of which have thick concrete walls. All of our rooms have adequate gigabit ethernet ports, however, so it was easy to connect an Airport Express via ethernet and using industrial strength velcro mount it to a ceiling tile frame.

    The beauty of Airports is the easy configuration; once you have one wireless access point configured, simply export the configuration. Each successive Airport needs to be configured first, before importing the saved configuration, but choosing the simplest setup and restarting the Airport takes only 3-4 minutes. Once restarted simply import the saved configuration and change the base station name and update a second time. Probably less than 5-6 minutes spent on each, although the firmware needed to be updated on many of them, which also didn’t take too long. I named the first Airport XP-01, then XP-02, 03 and so on.

    One thing to note: do not choose to enable a guest network, it won’t work with the Airports in bridge mode. Also, you may want to experiment with the radio channels. My theory is that Airports in adjacent rooms might work better set to different radio channels, but I’ve also read that they should all be on the same channel. Not sure about that. My 35 Airport Expresses will be distributed in 4-5 different areas, each area pretty far from the next so I may use different channels in each area and test the results.

    One last thing to note is, so far the 5GHz mode is far superior when tested, although many devices in out building (mainly old laptops) can’t take advantage of it.

    Thanks to all who have contributed to this!

    • admin says:

      Congrats! I would really like to see it in action, 35 Airport Expresses, it is very impressive.

      • ALAN HAGBERG says:

        If you’re ever on Cape Cod do let me know.

        Being a public school district we have budgetary constraints. That said, our middle school invested over $40K on Aerohive WAPs a few months ago, at $670 each. I figured at almost 1/10th the price ($79 each) it might be worth trying the Airports instead, as I have been using them at home and in another business for many years. I bought an Express and an Extreme to try them out and wound up buying 35 more Expresses and 5 more Extremes. My only possible regret is perhaps I should have bought more Extremes and fewer Expresses, but I think the Expresses are working out well enough.

        So far so good. I’ll keep you posted if any problems arise when we get into heavier use during testing when a lot of students are connected at the same time.

  23. Vijay says:

    Thanks this did work with me…
    however screen shots are of Mac OS where I had little tough time to map on the Windows Airport utility


  24. Neal says:

    Brilliant. Not network savvy at all but nailed it with this guide.

  25. Hakon says:

    I have followed your instructions but I get a problem. My devices sometimes don’t accept the password.
    So when I have my original AExtreme everyting is fine. But when I connect my other Airport (extreme) some of my iPhones and Macbooks say that he password is invalid. Even when I’m close to and connecting to the original AExtreme.

    Is it some kind of IP conflict?
    Any ideas?

  26. Gwilym says:

    so I thought I had an easy problem but can’t get solution to work. Wanted to make my airport express a wireless access point by connecting a long ethernet cable to the wireless router (Airport extreme). When I hook it up though the express just blinks orange. Is there some setting I need to change on the Extreme — and if so, how do I change it? And if i get the WAP working would it be same password as the Extreme or would I set the password separately?

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