[Update January 2011: Note the date on this post, and the fact that it refers to Android version 2.1 specifically. Android 2.2 features Wi-Fi and USB tethering as a standard feature. If you’re running that or later this article probably isn’t the droid you’re looking for.]
Here’s how to connect your HTC Desire (or perhaps any Android phone) to a Mac via a USB cable so that your computer can use the phone’s mobile broadband connection.
In my opinion, this sort of functionality should be built into the operating system, but I’ll save that rant for another day.
This uses the PdaNet for Android app, which costs USD 23.95 (currently on special at USD 18.95 for a limited time). However there’s a free trial which will suit my fellow reviewers in the Telstra HTC Desire Social Review. You can still use the app after the free trial is over, with the limitation that you can’t connect to secure sites.
Step 1: Install PdaNet Desktop for Mac on your computer
Just download and install the package. You will need to reboot your Mac after the installation. The installation will:
- Create a new Ethernet interface associated with your USB port, probably called “en2” or “en3”. When it does this, make sure the interface is set to use DHCP. It should do this automatically, but it pays to check.
- Install a new drop-down menu in your menu bar.
Step 2: Install the PdaNet for Android app on your phone
On your phone:
- Go to the Market, search for “pdanet”, download and install the app.
- Go to Settings -> Applications -> Development and turn on “USB debugging”.
You’ve now got the software installed at both ends, so you’re ready to go.
Step 3: Connect to the internet
- Launch the PdaNet app on your phone and select “Enable USB Tether”.
- Plug the phone into your Mac’s USB port.
- When the phone pops up the “Connect to PC” dialog, choose either “Charge only” or “Disk drive”. Do not choose “Internet sharing” as this start a fight over who’s controlling the internet link.
- On the Mac, from your new PadNet drop-down menu, choose “Connect” and wait for the icon to stop flashing.
Remember that your mobile data usage is expensive. Telstra’s Next G network is fast. It’s easy to download more than you intended. And uploads count against your usage too — so careful with that streaming video!
This procedure was tested using PdaNet version 2.41 on an HTC Desire running Android 2.1-update1, and a MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard version 10.6.3. Your mileage may vary.
[Disclosure: I have been given a HTC Desire handset by Telstra free of charge to review. The comments expressed by me reflect my user experience and personal opinion.]