How to Prioritize Wi-Fi Networks on a Mac

MacBook Pro displaying the Wi-Fi selection menu in the menu barKhamosh Pathak

By default, your Mac automatically connects to the most recently used Wi-Fi network. But when you’re in a public place with lots of open networks, you might want to prioritize one in particular (like your own hotspot) on your Mac.

You can rearrange the Wi-Fi network priority list in the Network section of System Preferences.

The simplest way to access network preferences comes from the Wi-Fi section of the menu bar. Click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar, then select the “Open network preferences” option.

Click on Open network preferences in the menu of the W-Fi menu bar

This opens the Network section from System Preferences.

RELATED: Six alternative ways to access system preferences on your Mac

Here, in the sidebar, make sure that the “Wi-Fi” option is selected, then click the “Advanced” button.

Click the Advanced button in the Wi-Fi menu

You will see a “Preferred Networks” section in the “Wi-Fi” tab which contains a list of all the networks you have already connected to. Everything is sorted by preference, which means that the network at the top of the list gets the first preference.

From this list, find the network that you want to be your preferred network (such as your access point). Click on the network to select it.

Select a Wi-Fi network from the list

From there, drag the network name to the top of the list, then release it.

Slide the network up

Once you see the network at the top of the list, it means it has priority. You can now reorganize the rest of the Wi-Fi networks for second or third priority.

If you’ve already connected to an open Wi-Fi network and don’t want your Mac to connect to it, even if no other priority network is available, remove the Wi-Fi network from the list. Select the Wi-Fi network, then click the Minus button.

Click the Minus button to remove a network from the preferred list

Once you have prioritized the list of networks, click the “OK” button in the lower right corner.

Click the OK button in the Advanced section

Then, in the Network screen, click the “Apply” button to update the priority list.

Click the Apply button to save the Wi-Fi priority list

If you don’t want to remove a network from the list, you can also shut down your Mac automatic connection to a specific Wi-Fi network.

RELATED: How to prevent your Mac from automatically connecting to a Wi-Fi network

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