How to Forget Wi-Fi Networks on iPhone / iPad to Stop from Re-Joining Unwanted Routers

Feb 13, 2014 - 6 Comments

Forget a wi-fi network in IOS

iOS is usually smart enough to join the last functioning wireless network used within range, but if you’re in an area with many wi-fi networks available sometimes you’ll find an iPhone or iPad is persistently joining and re-joining a network that you don’t want it to, even if you consistently toggle over to join a different router. This can be pretty frustrating, but you can typically resolve that annoyance by simply choosing to forget the wireless network and manually dropping it from the settings.

Other than preventing the joining of unwanted networks, forgetting networks can also be used as a troubleshooting trick if wi-fi isn’t functioning as intended on an iOS device, since a side effect of this is clearing out DHCP info and related caches. Yes, that means if you re-join a forgotten network, you’ll typically be assigned a new DHCP address. Unlike resetting network settings, however, you won’t lose other network details like custom DNS settings or stored wireless passwords by doing this.

How to Forget Wi-Fi Networks in iOS

For the purpose of this walkthrough we’ll focus on the iPhone, but you can use the same steps to forget a wireless network on an iPod touch and iPad too.

  1. Open the Settings app and head to “Wi-Fi” settings as usual
  2. Look for the wi-fi router / network name that you want to forget, then tap on the (i) info button
  3. Get more info about the wi-fi network

  4. Tap “Forget this Network” then confirm to drop the network from the list by tapping on “Forget”

Forget a wi-fi network in iOS

If the currently connected network is dropped, so will the wireless internet connection, meaning you’ll want to join another hotspot when possible. Of course the iPhone will just fall back onto it’s cellular data transfer at this point, but iPod touch and iPad owners without an 3G/LTE version will be left without any internet connection.

The forgotten network/router will become re-listed under the secondary “Choose a Network…” category and will no longer be joined again automatically without specifically being chosen again. If you do need to join it again for whatever reason, just select it again from that section and it’ll join the trusted/preferred group again.

Separately, if you find that unwanted networks are being joined without your consent (like say, if you’re an AT&T user at Starbucks), you may want to turn on the “Ask to Join Networks” feature within Wi-Fi settings. This will make a network pop-up dialog appear when networks are found within range, but it does prevent automatic joining of so-called “known” or preferred networks, which can sometimes reach beyond identified home, corporate, and school networks, and often into public hotspots that are setup by the same cellular network provider as what carrier an iPhone is contracted through. Starbucks is a good example of this, but many airports and other locations have similar service agreements with Verizon, AT&T, and presumably other providers as well.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

6 Comments

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  1. Andy says:

    This is something that Android and Windows handles a lot better than iOS and OS X for that matter. Why can’t there be an easier “Forget Network” selection?

  2. MacJedi says:

    It would be far more effective if Apple put in an option check box something like this:
    Ignore all networks not already authorized.

    Especially for iOS devices, this would save a lot of battery, NOT constantly scanning for new networks…

    • hporwit says:

      Agreed completely, otherwise it’s always scanning for wi-fi if you don’t have the feature turned off. There is no happy medium, seems simple to fix.

  3. PL says:

    Yes For me the problem is not forgetting a network its too many to choose from. just let me join the two networks i use and no need to search for the hundreds of other irrelevant ones. Waste of my time and battery.

  4. clif says:

    iOs 7 on iPhone 5 s will not allow “forget WiFi network” that I cannot log onto. It is draining my iPhone in no time. How to stop trying to join someone elses secure network?
    Can only “forget” network I am logged onto. But if I can’t log on, How do I stop iOS from trying to join???

  5. stu says:

    Clif….I agree with you and I have the exact same issue. My neighbor has a new password protected wifi that us stronger than my wifi, do my iPhone and iPad keep trying to connect to my neighbors wifi. I want to block my neighbors wifi from my devices.

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