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Optimize Your Wi-Fi Network with Mac’s Hidden Diagnostic Tool

lifehacker has an article showing us a Mac hidden tool that can show the wireless networks around you.  The tool is called: Wi-Fi Diagnostics tool.

First, you can either go to the folder /System/Library/CoreServices—or hold down the option key while clicking on the Wi-Fi icon in your menu bar and select "Open Wi-Fi Diagnostics..."
Open the tool (if you browsed for it by folder, you can copy the app to your Utilities folder or Dock first).

For Mountain Lion users only: Ignore the first screen and hit Command+N to open the "Network Utilities" window. Then Hit "Wi-Fi Scan" and you'll be presented with a list of all the networks near you—even ones that are hidden, as well as their channel, security, and signal and noise levels.

Technorati has an article on how to use this tool as well.

The "Signal" number specifies the signal strength between your Mac and the Wi-Fi access point or router. The higher this number is, the better. But note that these are negative numbers so a Signal of -60 is higher (and stronger) compared to a Signal of -80. The Noise number represents the amount of wireless noise that can interfere with the Signal. In this situation, we want lower numbers. So again, because we have negative Noise numbers, a Noise level of -94 is better than one of -90.
Finally, we can take the Signal and Noise numbers to come up with a Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) for our wireless connection. So for example, If I have a Signal level of -60 and a Noise level of -91, the difference between these two numbers is 31. The higher the SNR is, the better the Wi-Fi performance will be. Typically a SNR of 25 or higher will give you great Wi-Fi performance.

If you have competing networks on the same channel, you could possibly improve your reception by changing your channel on your router to one that's not used.

Click on the Performance tab if you're using Mountain Lion to see a chart of your live signal strength and noise meter (as well as network traffic). Basically, the wider the gap between the yellow and green lines, the better.

* Another article about this tool on OS X Daily.

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