The curse of the flashing amber LED | Rickard Andersson

The curse of the flashing amber LED

The new Mac came with an AirPort Express Base Station. I read up and it turns out this thing can be used to stream iTunes music to my stereo located in the next room. Something Apple calls “AirTunes”. Cool! I have no real use for the unit as a wireless client/repeater, so I figured AirTunes was worth checking out. I opened up the box and followed the installation instructions. They pretty much say:

  1. Hook up the AirPort Express to your stereo via the mini-jack.
  2. Insert the AirPort Express into the power socket.
  3. When the status LED shows green, you’re good to go.

Done. I await the green light from the status LED, but all I get is an amber colored LED that flashes. So I look in the manual and apparently, “flashing amber” means:

Startup is complete, but AirPort Express didn’t get an IP connection. Depending on your setup, it may mean AirPort Express is out of network range, unplugged from Ethernet, lacks a path to the Internet (or local router), or that there’s an issue with your Internet service provider.

Out of network range? At the time, the AirPort Express was two feet from the Mac. Unplugged from Ethernet? Damn right. I thought this thing was wireless? Lacks a path to the Internet? What the hell does this thing need the Internet for?

Oh, well. To cut a long, long story short. It turns out that the “flashing amber” signal is to be expected when you’re using AirTunes. You might want to mention that in the manual, Apple! Still didn’t work though. With the help of some people in the Apple discussion forums (yay for forums!), I was later able to get it going. Thing is, I’m not 100% sure what I did in order for it to start working. I know I had to connect to the unit via a regular Ethernet cable and run the AirPort Admin Utility to change some of the settings, but it was one of those things where it just started working all of a sudden. I hate it when that happens.

Apple: I’m very pleased with my Mac, but you really need to revise the manual for the AirPort Express. Not even the article in your knowledge base mentions the fact that “flashing amber” is what to expect when using AirTunes.


  1. Posted January 3, 2007 at 13:09 | Permalink

    One thing I seriously don’t get… Why are you questioning why the AirPort Express Base Station requires internet?

    The primary function of the base station is to act as a router.

    AirTunes is a secondary function.

  2. Posted January 3, 2007 at 13:40 | Permalink

    I was trying to point out that the information in the manual is extremely misleading. I followed the instructions for setting it up for AirTunes and it didn’t work. Instead of a green light, I got flashing amber. The manual then told me I should check that I have access to the Internet, a plugged in Ethernet cable etc. This is 100% wrong. Flashing amber is perfectly normal when using the AE for AirTunes.

  3. Posted September 27, 2008 at 05:47 | Permalink

    Same thing is happening to me, flashing amber doesn’t make me feel very comfortable.

  4. Stephen.k.sharma@goo
    Posted November 21, 2008 at 20:24 | Permalink

    I installed my AE and connected it to my network to use it for AirTunes, It has been working great for the best part for 2-3 weeks but for late it has been – during music playback – losing wireless connection from the router. It is only situated 3 metres from the router!! Anyway, this has happened a few times resetting the AE or my router usually fixes the problem at a great deal of inconvenience! It’s currently working right now although, it’s flashing amber i don’t understand the problem? surely if it’s working why doesn’t it just show a solid green light.
    I like Apple, and I want to continue to like Apple because I love the design of all their products however, if my AE persists to spontaneously disconnect I’m going to get a refund because it’s not worth the hassle!

  5. Posted November 22, 2008 at 17:06 | Permalink

    I have to agree. I’m not even using my base station anymore. Worst Apple product I’ve encountered to date.

  6. claudia robinson
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 19:35 | Permalink

    i have just purchased airport express and gets a good connection but i am not sure if the connection is right as manual says flashing amber light is wrong it should be showing solid green light. my broadband connection says its unpluged and lan connection is also unplugged. i want to secure my connection but not sure to do so at this stage.


  7. matt
    Posted May 12, 2009 at 18:22 | Permalink

    I used to love everything from apple, apple could do no wrong.

    However after 2 unusable Airport Extremes. 2 fried logic boards on my ibook and declining customer service- now I gotta pay $25 to talk to a service rep? I remember the good ole days.

    Anyway I am constantly having to reset the airport express. This product has not worked without flaws since I got my first one 3 years ago.

    useless POS.

  8. Hawkster
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 19:43 | Permalink

    I’ve had exactly the same problems with Airport Express. Occasionally, it worked for weeks at a time. Then unexplicably, the amber light starts flashing and the option disappears from itunes.

    All of this occurred using a PC. Then I finally bought a new iMac. I figured all would be well, especially when it worked immediately with iTunes on the mac. For a few days!!!! Then the exact same thing as with the PC. Flashing amber on the AE, no options for other speakers in iTunes. Settings are correct to “look for remote speakers connected with Airtunes”. I’ve toggled that off and on; closed, opened, closed, opened iTunes. Shut down and restarted computer. Same BS as before.

    And the manual is the absolute worst I’ve ever seen. No help with this problem and completely misleading.

    A disgrace to any reputable company.

  9. Phil
    Posted February 28, 2010 at 00:00 | Permalink

    This is driving me absolutely nuts!!! Whatever I do, it flashes amber in my face! Apple, this is simply not good enough!!!!! AAAARGHHH!

  10. Dave
    Posted February 28, 2010 at 12:22 | Permalink

    Have you seen this?

    This did the trick for me

    “Using AirPort Setup Assistant
    Plug AirPort Express into a power outlet.
    On your computer, join the wireless network created by AirPort Express.”

    this is how you ‘join the wireless network created by AirPort Express’:

    a) find the network icon – looks like a spreading wave or fan – click on it
    b) you should see the new network which the airport express is broadcasting

    “Open AirPort Setup Assistant. Mac users: Find it in /Applications/Utilities/. Windows users: On the Start menu, point to All Programs and click AirPort.

    etc…” [14 total steps – see site for full instructions]

    Also see this page for more details and illustrations:

  11. YSL
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 01:37 | Permalink

    The idea with apple is that it is much more user friendly but the problem with that is that if a problem occurs you can’t access the neccesary files to fix the problem. MAC has the worst wireless system in the world!

  12. YSL
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 01:37 | Permalink

    The idea with apple is that it is much more user friendly but the problem with that is that if a problem occurs you can’t access the neccesary files to fix the problem. MAC has the worst wireless system in the world!

  13. Anonymous
    Posted October 22, 2011 at 14:37 | Permalink

    Some picturs of yellow flashing light

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