Blinking Yellow Light on an Apple Airport– what it means, what to do

Updated October 4th, 2020.

The Airport at the bottom right of all those screenshots is an older Airport Express, connected to powered speakers. The dotted line back to the Time Capsule shows us the Airport Express is connecting to the Time Capsule through the air, not via a cable. When we click on it, we see a button saying “Update”:

Airport Utility, updating Airport Express
Updating Airport Express

Clicking on the Update button gives us the warning about the network being interrupted temporarily, but then we see the result:

Airport Express after updating firmware
Airport Express after updating firmware

Sharp-eyed readers will notice there’s still one problem showing next to the Time Capsule. That’s because the device is overheating. The fan inside it isn’t working properly. That’s a different problem, and we can’t solve it with the Airport Utility. But at least we know what the flashing light’s about (and it will continue to blink yellow– this problem cannot be papered over).

How to use the Airport Utility app on an iPhone or iPad to update Airport firmware

Assuming your iPhone or iPad is on the Airport’s WiFi network, you can use Apple’s free Airport Utility app to do the updates. You’ll have to download the app from the App Store– here’s the link. When you launch it, you’ll see something like this (we are using a different network in this example):

Airport Utility on iPhone
Airport Utility on iPhone

Tap an Airport and you’ll see something like this:

Airport Utility on iPhone showing that a firmware update is available.

Notice the blue “1” in the blue bubble-oval. That’s how they show “one issue” on the iOS Airport Utility. Tap it, and you’ll see something like this:

iOS Airport Utility showing there is a firmware update for this Airport.
Firmware update available for this Airport

Tap “Download and Install” and you’ll see this:

iOS Airport Utility firmware update confirmation
Just checking…

Tap “Install” and in short order, the Airport’s firmware will be updated.

Note: a blinking yellow light on an Airport usually means “firmware update available.” However, there are several other conditions that might be the cause, including:

  • A disconnected or broken cable
  • Your internet service is down
  • The Airport’s been reset or is new and needs to be set up
  • The Airport is a Time Capsule with a failing hard disk

Opening up the Airport Utility, whether on your Mac or on your iPhone or iPad, is the first step in figuring out what that yellow light is trying to tell you.

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