How to Forget a Wi-Fi Network in Mac OS X

Mar 9, 2014 - 26 Comments

Forget a Wi-Fi Network in Mac OS X

Once a wi-fi network has been joined in OS X, the Mac will default to joining that network if it’s within range and available again. This is undeniably convenient for joining our home, work, and regular wireless networks, but it can be a nuisance when the Mac rejoins a network that you no longer want to connect to. While setting the wi-fi network priority is one option, another option is to have the Mac “forget” the network, preventing it from automatically rejoining again. This is particularly helpful if you live or work within an area that has open networks available that you do not accidentally want to join.

Forgetting a wi-fi network in Mac OS X is very easy, though the option is a bit more hidden than some users may expect. Fortunately, like the iOS counterpart, learn to drop a network once and you won’t have to wonder how to do it again in the future.

Removing a Wireless Router from the Preferred Networks List in OS X

This will forget the chosen wi-fi network(s), preventing the Mac from automatically joining it again when within range.

  1. Pull down the Wi-Fi menu icon and choose “Open Network Preferences”, or go to the “Network” preference pane from  Apple menu and System Preferences
  2. Open Network Preferences in Mac OS X from the menu bar

  3. Select “Wi-Fi” from the network panel sidebar, then click the “Advanced” button in the corner
  4. Go to Advanced Wi-Fi Network Preferences in Mac OS X

  5. Go to the “Wi-Fi” tab and find the router/network to forget under the “Preferred Networks” list
  6. Select the network and then choose the [-] minus button to remove (forget) the wireless network
  7. Remove a Wi-Fi Network

  8. Confirm to forget the wi-fi network by choosing “Remove”
  9. Remove a Wi-Fi Router from Mac OS X

  10. Repeat as necessary for other wifi networks to forget
  11. Click “OK”, then exit out of System Preferences, choose “Apply” if asked

Once a wireless network has been forgotten, OS X will no longer join it automatically – even if it is the only network available.

If you change your mind, the forgotten network(s) can be re-joined or remembered again simply by choosing it from the wi-fi menu bar selection.

This is worthwhile to use for dropping public networks without wi-fi encryption, forcibly forgetting a dual-band router channel that has a flaky connection, and it’s also handy for when a bandwidth hungry Mac continuously joins an iPhone HotSpot that has a limited data plan just because it’s located nearby.

Though it’s fairly simple, being several layers behind preference panels has made this less-than-obvious approach to forgetting wireless networks a fairly common complaint from Windows users who have recently switched to the Mac platform. An easy way to prevent that confusion would be to add a menu bar option to drop networks from anywhere, but for now all versions of OS X work as described above.

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Dog scratcher says:

    Sorry but this is one thing that Windows does so much better than Mac. Forget a network by right-click and choosing forget. Done. Much faster and more intuitive.

  2. ricardo says:

    faster Dog scratcher? my “work” is not disconnect..


    keep running…

  3. Mauro says:

    if you have iCloud Keychain enabled, that network will be forgotten also on your iDevice, and that’s quite annoying!

  4. TheTruth says:

    It does not work at all. Try joining the same secured network again and it didn’t ask for password. So the password is still “remembered”

    • Pakino says:

      You have to forget the network, not just disconnect from it.

      Here’s how to forget a WiFi network on a Mac

      • Andy says:

        What is this? An infinite loop? A link on one article to the same article. This is why people who aren’t drunk on the Kool Aid have strong opinions about Mac and the folks who think Steve Jobs hung the moon (he didn’t).

    • sr77 says:

      Agree with Pakino. This (the method in the article) does not work (at least not in OS X 10.6.8) because even though the unwanted network is deleted from the Preferred Networks list, it continues to appear in the Airport dropdown menu.

      I’ve seen advice elsewhere that it can be removed fully by also opening Keychain Access (i.e., in addition to removing it in System Preferences > Network > Advanced), but I didn’t see the unwanted network listed there, so that didn’t help either.

  5. Sarah says:

    I tried this, but no “remove” dialog box appears :-(

  6. marcia says:

    Same here! In San Fran and no “remove” button. Very frustrating! Can someone brilliant troubleshoot this?😁

  7. Name says:

    If you’ve followed all the proper steps and no “remove” button pops up, just restart you Mac… That should do it.

  8. Bart says:

    Hi, this method is useful to delete preferred networks, but what about other networks proposed like free-wifi etc.
    They don’t show up in preferred networks an therefore can not be deleted. Thanks in advance,

  9. Tig says:

    hello, Bart,

    it sounds like the “ask to join new networks” box is checked. if it isn’t, then I’m out of ideas.


  10. kitty says:

    thanks very helpful as some wifi as bt-fon cut off your connection ext top advise well describe .

  11. Barbara says:

    But the problem is, the network’s information is still stored. I want to rejoin a network with different login details than the one it has stored. It won’t let me reset them, even when the network is supposedly ‘forgotten’. It isn’t forgotten, just removed from the list that is automatically logged into.

  12. Chris Davis says:

    My apartment building changed the wifi password and I’m having the same problem as well. I’ve deleted it from the preferred networks and it doesn’t appear on key chain. It still connects without prompting me to put in the new password for the wifi. I have no issues connecting on my iPhone 6 because I can simply forget the wifi and comeback and input the new password, not possible on OS X Yosemite 10.10.3. This is really annoying. It shouldn’t be that difficult to forget a network or re-input a new password if it’s changed.

  13. Supasweet13 says:

    I tried to use this method but it did not work for me. I also needed to put in a new password to a network I was already using. I tried to click on the alert connections and add the network I was on with the new password. It still didn’t work. So I tried joining a new network and I put the name of the network exactly how it was written put the security name is (WEP, WPA. WPA personal, etc) in and the new password. I did it twice and it took the second time because I wrote it exactly how it was written with upper and lower case in the proper place. Hopefully this will help someone else.

  14. Erwin says:

    worked perfect for me, tnx.

    question, is it bad to have many (50+) wifi networks in your list??

    Extra question, is it somehow possible to see when you last connected to each network? This way I can delete very old networks.

  15. Gabby says:

    Can i just jump on the bandwagon?!

    I want to ‘forget’ my network on my mac but it won’t let me either.

    I’m at a hotel wifi and want to upgrade because obviously the complimentary one sucks. But if i delete it, like above and try to reconnect, i guess since I’m logged in it for 24 hours, it automatically connects me. SO frustrating!

  16. Satish says:

    After u follow the above mentioned instructions.. Just join some other network available on ur WiFi scroll down menu.(u cant join without their password.. So type some random password and click ok) then try reconnecting to your network.. It asks you for Your new password. Type it in and your ready to go

  17. Michael O'Donnell says:

    This tip is just wrong – old networks keep reappearing even after they have been deleted. I have a list going back to at least 2007, even though this is my third iMac and third iPhone since then.

    • Robeo says:

      If the network is in range, it will reappear. Forgetting a network disconnects it and prevents auto-joining if it sees it again. You can turn off the router if you don’t want it broadcasting, or make it hidden SSID.

Leave a Reply


Shop for Apple & Mac Deals on

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates