Modern Mac users have multiple ways to connect to a network or the Internet, including Wi-Fi and Ethernet. If you’re not careful, though, you might not be using the connection you think you are. But fear not, we’re here to help.

Apple might be systematically removing ports from its computers, but if you own one of the company’s desktop Macs, or are a resident of Dongle Town, you probably have multiple different network connections available to you at any one time. When maximum throughput is your goal, you’ll be connecting via an Ethernet cable. However, it’s important also to keep Wi-Fi active for some of Apple’s more fancy features, including unlocking your Mac with an Apple Watch and more.

You’ll probably need to keep Wi-Fi turned on, which can lead to a problem—your Mac could be using Wi-Fi, even if you have an Ethernet cable plugged in.

That is less than ideal for obvious reasons. Anyone who makes heavy use of any Network Attached Storage, or even just has a super fast Internet connection, needs to use the fastest connection available to them. Thankfully, macOS makes it easy to change the priority of connections. Here’s how to make sure Ethernet is at the very top of that list.

Changing the Order of Network Connections

To start, click on the Apple menu and then select “System Preferences.”

Next, click “Network” to open the network-specific preference pane.

Here, you can make changes to anything related to your computer’s network connection, including the order in which the different connection methods are used.

Click the cog icon at the bottom of the window and then select “Set Service Order.”


The resulting window will display every network connection type, or Service, that is available to you. Hopefully, Ethernet is at the top of the list although if you’re using a dongle, this name will differ. Don’t worry; it will be immediately apparent which entry is your dongle based on its name. Look for something that mentions either “Ethernet” or “1000BASE‑T.”

Drag any Service to a new location in the list as required. If you require the Ethernet service to be at the top of the list, click and drag it there and then click “OK.”

Finally, click the “Apply” button to confirm the changes.

Oliver Haslam Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam is a professional freelance writer with nearly ten years of experience. His work has been published on Macworld, PCMag, 1Password's blog, and other websites. He writes about all things Apple.
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