MacBook Pro showing Wi-Fi selection menu in menu bar
Khamosh Pathak

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

You can reorder the Wi-Fi network priority list from the Network section in System Preferences.

The easiest way to get to the Network Preferences is from the Wi-Fi section in the menu bar. Click on the Wi-Fi icon from the menu bar and then select the “Open Network Preferences” option.

Click on Open Network Preferences from the W-Fi menu bar menu

This opens the Network section from within the System Preferences.

RELATED: Six Alternative Ways to Access System Preferences on Your Mac

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

Click on Advanced button from the Wi-Fi menu


You’ll see a “Preferred Networks” section in the “Wi-Fi” tab that contains a list of all the networks to which you’ve previously connected. Everything is sorted by preference, meaning that the network on 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 hotspot). 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 and then release it.

Drag the network up to the top spot

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

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

Click on Minus button to remove a network from the preffered list

Once you’ve prioritized the list of networks, click on the “OK” button from the bottom-right corner.

Click on OK button from the Advanced section


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

Click on 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 stop your Mac from automatically connecting to a specific Wi-Fi network.

RELATED: How to Stop Your Mac From Automatically Connecting to a Wi-Fi Network

Profile Photo for Khamosh Pathak Khamosh Pathak
Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on Lifehacker, iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has nearly a decade of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.