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How-To: Setup an Airport Extreme in Bridge Mode

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When our community went live for AT&T (s att) U-Verse, we jumped right on the opportunity to get a service with advanced voice, data and TV on the same line. Unfortunately, we found out that U-Verse requires you use to use their router. So we had to replace our beloved Airport Extreme, right? Not quite.

Our situation was U-Verse related, but others may have situations whereby your Extreme can no longer provide Internet routing functions. Fear not, because you can still take advantage of its features with Bridge Mode. Bridge mode essentially turns off the Internet routing portion of the Airport, but leaves intact all of its other features such as Wi-Fi, printer sharing, disk sharing, and Time Machine support.

Let’s begin!

Getting Started

First, unplug all network cables from the Airport and reset it so you are starting with a clean slate. Instructions to reset can be found here.

Next, plug an Ethernet cable from your computer into one of the Ethernet ports on your Airport Extreme. You can configure via Wi-Fi, but wired is easier. If you do it over Wi-Fi, you’ll need to search for your particular Airport.

Once you are connected to the Airport base station (either via ethernet or Wi-Fi), launch the Airport Utility on your Mac. The utility is located in /Applications/Utilities. Once it loads, you will see your Airport router listed in the upper left corner. If the router doesn’t show up, make sure you are physically connected to its network from your Mac.

Click “Manual Setup” towards the bottom of the window and then click the “Internet” icon that appears at the top of the window.

After you click the “Internet” icon, the Internet Connection tab should appear. At the bottom of this window, you will see an option for “Connection Sharing.”┬áBy default, this is probably set to “Distribute a range of IP addresses” or “Share a public IP address.” You want to change this so that it says “Off (Bridge Mode)”

At this point, you are done. The Airport is setup for Bridge Mode, but you’ll want to configure a few more things.

Configuring Your Bridge

To configure the Wireless Security and Wireless Network Name, click the Airport icon at the top of the window and then click Wireless.

If you reset the Airport first, you’ll want to click the Base Station tab to rename the Base Station and create an Airport Extreme Password (which may or may not be the same as your wireless password).

If you want to share a connected printer or disk, click the Printers and/or Disks tab as applicable. Personally, I use the USB port and Disks function to have a remote Time Machine shared by multiple computers.

Once you have made all the changes you wish to make, click on “Update” in the lower right corner, and your Airport base station will restart. At this point, you can disconnect from the ethernet port and now must plug in the ethernet cable from your ISP-provided router into the Broadband port of your Airport Extreme.

After it restarts, the Airport Extreme indicator in the front should go green. You can test the bridge by connecting to your Airport via Wi-Fi (or ethernet if you want) and surf the Internet as well as see any disks or printers you might be sharing.

Keep in mind that there are a few limitations of bridge mode. Because the Internet routing features of the Airport are not used in Bridge Mode, certain features that rely on special functionality of the Airport router, like Back To My Mac, may not work. Additionally, port forwarding (for things like games or Bit Torrent) needs to be done using your ISP’s router’s web interface, rather then the Airport Utility. Some ISP routers have a special mode called “DMZ” which allows you to use these features on the Airport, but setting this up is router-specific and often subject to change.

18 Responses to “How-To: Setup an Airport Extreme in Bridge Mode”

  1. steve seidman

    The RG wireless range is pretty limited, so I tried to use an Airport in bridge mode to get better range. However, I also have Cat 5 attached to the UVerse RG in order to reach a studio in the back yard. The two ethernet uses conflicted, so the Cat 5 network stopped working. How can I remove this conflict?

  2. jp4revolt

    I am lost as to what all this means you guys are talking about. I had uverse installed yesterday. There was a network name and password for the gateway so we disabled that then I searched and found my airport extreme on a closed network and followed the instructions for bridge mode. What does that mean? Is my network secure? I guess I just don’t understand why I did that or the benefit.

  3. Thanks for this. I have FIOS and had to search around for a while until I found this solution so I could use my Airport Extreme with the Actiontec router that verizon supplies. It was super easy and works great.

  4. I didn’t have to go through all of this trouble with U-Verse. I simply logged into the U-Verse gateway, turned off the wireless network, then went into the firewall settings, and set it to send all traffic to the Airport Extreme. Now, the U-Verse gateway only handles networking for the set to box, but allows my Airport Extreme to run my home network. I use NAT to send certain kinds of traffic to specific computers on my network. It’s nowhere near the complicated situation you’ve made this out to be.

    • tony maietta


      do you have a step by step procedure for doing the U-verse changes? I was on a Airport Extreme (wife’s computer, wireless network thru AT&T DSL, and all the printers). Since getting the UVerse, we only get internet. How can I set up my Uverse and Airport so that 1) airport runs my home wireless network and I only use the Uverse for the TV and Phone stuff. any help is greatly appreciated. thanks Tony

  5. Richard

    When sharing your disks make sure you tick the “Share disks over the Internet using bonjour” box on the “file sharing” tab otherwise you will only be able to access your disks through wifi and not through a cabled connection.

  6. Is this, Bridge Mode, same as using the Airport Extreme to extend the range of the AT&T U-verse in the house? If not, how will one do that?

  7. I disagree about the DMZ mode on the U-Verse router. I have found it to be buggy, especially with things like trying to connect to my office with a VPN. I complained about this to AT&T and eventually I actually had a 3rd Tier AT&T guy tell me that the DMZ as it is implemented in the U-Verse router isn’t a “true” DMZ (whatever that means) and that certain applications such as some VPNs just don’t work if you have the U-Verse gateway in DMZ mode and use a second router behind it.

    After I found this out, I put the U-Verse box back into “normal” mode and configured my Airport like this article says and the VPN worked swimmingly after that.

    So, your mileage may vary!

  8. J Marler

    Justin B is correct. That’s how I have my airport setup. I can still do back-to-my-mac, uPnP, port forwarding, VPN server, etc etc … I definitely recommend setting it up that way. The U-verse router has a pretty intuitive UI that is easily accessed through the web.

  9. Justin B

    There is another option for U-Verse. Plug your Apple router into the U-Verse gateway, then assign the APE to DMZ-Plus mode in the gateway. Your APE will now have a public IP address and you can use all of its routing features.

  10. I did the exact same thing (bridge mode) with my airport base station and FiOS. Much easier than putting the FiOS router in to bridge mode.

  11. bubuli

    i have FiOS and they also supplied their own router…I connected Airport as one of the wired clients of the FiOS router, then just use AE as is–i.e., not in “bridge mode.” are you saying U-Verse doesn’t allow another router to connect to its router?