How to Prevent a Mac From Connecting to the Wrong Wireless Network

Dave Greenbaum

Your Mac remembers your previous wireless networks. That’s great until it starts to remember the wrong networks. Once you connect to the wrong network, your Mac remembers that wrong network. You can switch networks, but it’s easier to manage your wireless networks to prevent the problem from happening again. Proper wireless network management improves your security as well.

Need a stronger cup of coffee to help with Wi-Fi issues on your Mac? Let us help you.
Need a stronger cup of coffee to help with Wi-Fi issues on your Mac? Let us help you.

Why Your Mac Has the Problem in The First Place

When you connect to a new wireless network, your Mac asks you by default if you want to remember the wireless network. Once you put in the password and successfully connects, your Mac will connect to the network the next time it sees it. Depending on your situation, that’s not a good idea. If you’re just trying to see if you can get connected to an open network, always uncheck Remember this network. If it isn’t secure, you don’t want to attempt to reconnect again if you can avoid it.

rememberthisnetwork

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Unless you are going to connect on a regular basis, it’s safer to not remember the wireless network and password. Hackers know people do this and can create a wireless network and trick you into connecting to it. For example, I never remember the wireless network name and password to an occasional coffee shop.

Removing a Previously Remembered Wireless Network

You probably have a wireless network named linksys somewhere in your Mac’s memory. It’s a default router that doesn’t have a password. You definitely want to remove that from connecting each time. From the wireless icon in your menu bar, select Open Network Preferences ….

wirelessnetworkprefs

Click on Advanced to see a list of all the wireless networks your Mac knows. It’s a trip down memory lane! In this example, I have one of those linksys networks listed. To remove it, select it and then select the minus symbol in the bottom of that screen. Your Mac warns you that you’ll lose those settings on all synced devices. That’s fine since it’s what you want. Select Remove and it’s gone until you try to connect again.

networklist

removenetwork

Disconnect from a wireless network: The easiest way is to hold down the Option key while clicking on the wireless icon. There you’ll see Disconnect from and the wireless network name.

Connect to Your Preferred Wireless Networks

If you travel between a lot of places, your Mac will sometimes connect to the weaker wireless network first. The Mac connects to wireless networks in chronological order rather than strength. In other words, if your Mac sees the weaker wireless network first, it first tries that network.

Fortunately, you can change the order of connections manually if that’s a problem. In the Network panel of System Preferences, you can change the order by dragging. If, in this example, I want to connect to connect to Ft.Laud-Hlwd_Airport-Public before gogoinflight. I’ll drag gogoinflight above Ft.Laud-Hlwd_Airport-Public. That way I’ll connect to the public wifi before gogoinflight at the airport. That’s handy because while gogoinflight might be turned off, I could still get connect from the public wireless. I keep gogoinflight at the bottom of my list since I connect to it so infrequently.

networkhigher

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Keep Safe Out There with Your Mac

Managing your wireless networks and passwords on your Macs reduces your risk and increases security. It’s time to protect yourself.

Also See
#Tips & Tricks#troubleshooting

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Dave Greenbaum

Written By

Dave Greenbaum

I have a passion for helping people make technology work.

For my day job, I own a computer repair business in Lawrence, Kansas. Drawing on my support background, I focus on practical technology from the user perspective. I enjoy it all: Android, Chrome OS, iOS, MacOS, Windows and everything in between.