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Change Wireless Network Priority to Make Windows 7 Choose the Right Network First

If you’ve got multiple wireless networks or you’ve got one of those dual-band Wireless-N routers that have two separate networks, you might wonder how to tell Windows what network to try to connect to first. Here’s the explanation.

For example, my home network has a lousy Verizon FIOS router that’s only Wireless-G, and so I’ve got a separate Linksys dual-band wireless-N router hooked up inside the FIOS network—the only problem is that we’ve got 3 separate networks going, and as you can see from the screenshot, the lousy YDQ48 network is above lhdevnet in the list, so Windows tries that one first.

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Note: naturally, you could disable the networks if you don’t need to use them, but for our scenario we’re assuming that you do.

How to Change the Wireless Network Priority

You’ll want to first head into Network and Sharing Center through the link at the bottom of the dialog, or from the Control Panel.

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Click the Manage wireless networks on the left-hand side.

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Now you can see the list of networks that you’ve connected to, and you can remove, rename, or move them up or down.

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To illustrate this example, I’ve moved YDQ48 down below lhdevnet in the list:

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And as you can see, it’s now higher in the priority in the list:

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Prevent Windows from Connecting to a Wireless Network Automatically

If you want to have a network in the list, but don’t want Windows to connect to it automatically, you can open up the properties from the Manage Wireless Networks dialog, and then uncheck the box for “Connect automatically when this network is in range”.

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The option for “Connect to a more preferred network if available” option will allow you to automatically switch to a better network once it becomes available. You’ll probably want to leave that one alone unless you have a real need for it—stick with using the up/down order in the wireless networks list to determine the priority.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/30/10

Comments (13)

  1. kyle

    great tip! didn’t know this

    windows 7 is so customizable :)

  2. Castro

    Wireless network priority has been around since XP

  3. eceplayground

    Yeah.. i use it on Xp..

  4. steve

    good tip, this the kind of information, that those of us, who don’t know, “everything” needs. keep up the good work

  5. Taomyn

    This is also a useful feature for detecting “fake” access points that pretend to be any SSID to lure unsuspecting victims.

    Simply create a manual entry called something you’ll never normally have as a valid SSID e.g. JohnDoeAP, then enter it has having no security/no key and to automatically connect and to connect even if not broadcasting. In your list of networks make this the top entry. Should you ever see this network connect automatically, then you’ll instantly know you’re being duped into a “man-in-the-middle” attack and to immediately disconnect.

  6. dave

    very good tip :)

  7. Abe

    I have a 2nd wireless router connected to my network to extend the range of my wireless network. Both wireless routers have the same SSID but use different channels. Is there a way to specify which router (ie. channel) a computer should connect to if both are in range?

  8. Antanius

    You can also sort network by drag and drop, no need to use the toolbar or the menu.

  9. Davin

    I have the same issue/question as Abe. Is there a way to specify which channel you connect to? Can I at least force my wireless card to scan for a better channel?

  10. Mohammad

    thanks a lot
    helpful information

  11. dookie

    win 7 is much more functional than lame XP

  12. weirdogeek

    xp is lame

  13. RVParkGuy

    Great tip, ran into this problem last night, thanks!

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