How to Change the Priority of Wireless Networks in Windows 7

By Lowell Heddings on August 30th, 2010

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
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