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How to use a hex key/password on AirPort Network
The short version: If you are given a hex key (password) for accessing a WiFi network (generally a long string of numbers and letters), just add 0x (zero x) in front of the hex key and insert it into the 'password' field. The longer version: I spent most of the day yesterday trying to get my iBook on our company WiFi. When I was asked for the password by the Airport Setup Wizard (or Internet Connect) to access the network (that was found right away), my engineers gave me a long string of numbers and letters (hex key). This is how it apeared in the Windows setup.

Now, usually you can convert hex to ASCII text (with an app like MacASCII Display X) and get the password in plain text. But knowing that AirPort will convert ASCII passwords to hex automatically, if you give it hex from the start, it won't work.

Anyway, seeing that the hex key that was given to me was equivalent to obscure text characters, I was told that if you add a 0x (zero x) in front of the hex string, it should work ... and it did indeed. In the AirPort password field, I simply added 0x in front of the hex string key, and it worked perfectly.
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How to use a hex key/password on AirPort | 17 comments | Create New Account
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What about the WEP key option?
Authored by: rufo on Sep 04, '03 09:30:03AM

I'm sorry, maybe I'm not understanding the question... but when you select the WiFi network from the Airport menu, can't you just select one of the WEP key options from the drop-down menu and punch in the key? That's what I've been doing for years, and it's worked fine for me so far...



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What about the WEP key option?
Authored by: easco on Sep 04, '03 10:13:44AM

The network connection point at the other end of the WiFi connection is not an Airport pod. Even though the user is using A mac, the router he is connecting to comes from someone other than Apple.

For much of the rest of the universe, folks are not able to use simple passwords to connect to wireless routers. Rather they have to use cryptic strings of many Hexidecimal digits.

To get a Mac to send the proper password to such routers you have to prefix the string of hexidecimal digits with a dollar sign ($) or, evidently, the string 0x.

FWIW, both of these mechanisms are techniques used in programming languages to specify numbers in hexidecimal. In Pascal (and Pascal-like languages) one prepends a dollar sign to the hexidecimal number like $FEEDFACE in C and similar languages one uses 0x like 0xDEADBEEF



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What about the WEP key option?
Authored by: breen on Sep 04, '03 11:17:53AM

Right.

Earlier versions of AirPort required that you use the '$' convention which has been Apple's long-time standard (see Inside AppleTalk or a similar volume for many examples).

I'm glad that they've added what is becoming a more familiar standard by allowing '0x' without removing the '$' option.

Breen



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What about the WEP key option?
Authored by: EddEdmondson on Sep 04, '03 12:15:07PM

Nope I don't get it either. When I connect to my PC's wireless card (my Linux desktop acts as my base station) I enter my hex key by selecting 128bit hex from the drop down menu like the original post describes and put it in there. No need to use a 0x or $.



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What about the WEP key option?
Authored by: mjones1040 on Sep 04, '03 10:02:34PM

I did not have to enter the $ or 0x either, however I did notice that it had been added by the software. If I look at the key as it appears in my keychain there is a 0x in front of what I entered. I'm using a D-Link DI-614+ Wireless Router. Works great! :-)



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What about the WEP key option?
Authored by: raider on Sep 05, '03 03:22:54PM
For much of the rest of the universe, folks are not able to use simple passwords to connect to wireless routers. Rather they have to use cryptic strings of many Hexidecimal digits.

Don't even try and sound informed, just keep spreading anti-PC FUD...

I am a Mac user and proud of it, but this is simply not true. I have used SEVERAL WAPs with PCs running Windows and Linux. Most allow the use of a normal password or passphrase. The issue is usually the extremely cheap ones will have poor software interfaces. But even that is changing with the popularity of wireless connectivity. The Mac is *not* perfect, and in fact I would say that Apple sort of "broke" things by chosing an odd way to encode their passwords for 802.11x purposes.

All mac vs. PC stuff aside, another very helpful utility for some network configurations involving Macs and PCs and WAPs designed for PC networks is WEP Key Maker.

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Yes, but...
Authored by: ThreeDayMonk on Sep 04, '03 05:55:36PM

You can.

BUT...if you use different network locations and want to store the password of the appropriate network in the Airport tab of Network preferences, then there is no selection box; just a password field.

This hint (which I discovered elsewhere last week) solves that problem.



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Yes, but...
Authored by: EddEdmondson on Sep 05, '03 05:24:19AM

So there is! I never bothered looking at the Airport tab since everything worked just fine for me...

But now I've seen it I've managed to fix that annoyance of having to reconnect to the network on waking from sleep. Thanks!



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How to use a hex key/password on AirPort
Authored by: dintal on Sep 04, '03 09:32:38AM

You can tell the Airport software to use a password, Hex or ASCII key by clicking on the drop down menu to the left of the password entry box. you can even choose 40 or 128 bit key length.

LEAP is supported in OS X.3



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How to use a hex key/password on AirPort
Authored by: zos on Sep 05, '03 10:24:59AM

LEAP is supported in 10.2 as well, the option has always been there.



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How to use a hex key/password on AirPort
Authored by: chabig on Sep 04, '03 09:34:42AM

Besides 0x, you are also supposed to be able to use a single dollar sign at the beginning fo the string as a hex escape character.

i.e.: $12345456

This information from Airport help.

Chris



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dollar sign works, may be obsolete
Authored by: mclbruce on Sep 04, '03 12:34:10PM

In the last year or so I have used the dollar sign $ in front of the hex key with success. This has worked for several clients with Linksys base stations. Apple mentions this in an article on their web site.

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=106250

Evidently the latest Airport client software makes this unnecessary.



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dollar sign works, may be obsolete
Authored by: John Pritt on Sep 04, '03 01:45:45PM

I had been having a similar problem:
I have a white 500mhz dual uhb iBook equipped with an (old, ie, non-Extreme) Airport card, OSX 10.2.6 and Airport 3.1 that I am trying to connect to a Belkin 54g cable-dsl wireless router (model F5D7230-4).
Set up of the router is:
Wireless Mode - 54g Auto
Broadcast SSID - no
Protected mode - off
WEP mode - disabled
Access point - no
Bridge - no
MAC address filtering - enabled
This worked fine. However, I felt that for security, it might be better (notwithstanding everything everyone has said) if I enabled WEP. This is where my problems began. I thought that I'd tried every combination (Belkin 64/128 manual and automatic, 5, 13 and other length passwords / Apple airport or internet connect with, without $, "", password, hex, ascii) but all to no avail: the iBook cannot connect to the network (Incorrect password).

When I posted this on the Apple Airport discussion board, I got this reply:
Get the hexadecimal equivalent of the WEP password from the Belkin router's browser based configuration program. This will be exactly 10 characters (40/64-bit WEP) or 26 characters (128-bit WEP). Enter this 26 character string in the password field and used the Password: selector to the left to select 128-bit Hex and you should be on your way. For dialogs where the Password: selector is not available, preface the 26 character string with a '$'.

And it worked. For the record, I generated a 128 bit key in the Belkin web administrator pages (using a 13 character password just to be on the safe side); I copied the hex equivalent (twice -- the first time I wrote it down wrong!! oops), and then typed this into the password box (with the "password" flag) in the airport connection dialogue box.



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How to use a hex key/password on AirPort
Authored by: leebennett on Sep 04, '03 01:28:10PM

regarding the algorithm that converts between hex keys and the passphrase that generated it---if apple would simply use the same algorithm that is used by virtually all the 3rd-party Wi-Fi routers, we'd not have this challenge in the first place.



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How to use a hex key/password on AirPort
Authored by: designr on Sep 04, '03 02:10:10PM

$



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What's annoying..
Authored by: cynikal on Sep 05, '03 11:56:01AM

whats really annoying is that cut-paste doesn't seem to work, so you have to actually type that long string of hexadecimal characters out yourself, instead of being able to cut/paste it from an email or something.

at least there's the keychain so i don't have to type it out everytime :p



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$ no longer works, only 0x
Authored by: jfw on Oct 06, '04 10:50:49AM

The $ trick no longer works, but 0x still works -- with OS X 10.3.5 anyway.

Although you can type a WEP password directly with no prefix in the Internet Connect application (available from the Airport menu), you can't do so in the password field of the Network section of the System Preferences.

And since that is the only place you can specify the default network, you have to specify the password correctly if you want to connect to that network before another one.



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