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Without going into specifics of why I might like to do this, or whether this is a good idea or not, I would like to know how I can disable use of wireless networking on my MacBook Air, either via removal of software or drivers or similar, such that the machine is unable to connect to a WIFI network in any way without I undo those changes. The intention is for the machine to be unable to communicate wirelessly when out of the house, and for those changes to not be easily reverted until I return (for example requiring some piece of external storage that does not travel with me and which contains copies of whatever I have removed).

How can I easily remove and then re-allow WIFI access (without losing my stored profiles/passwords or disturbing anything else)? Is it possible to simply copy a certain app or plugin to an external drive, delete it from my laptop, and later copy it back, again having everything as it was before?

One year later

I have been happily using Daniel Lawson's solution below for quite some time now. I have created two applications with automator, one that deletes the .kext, one that restores it from an USB stick.

First, copy /System/Library/Extensions/IO80211Family.kext to a USB stick and leave that stick at home.

Open Automator, select to create an "Application", then choose "Utilities" from the "Library", then "Execute Shell Script". (I'm translating this from my German menus, so the exact names may differ.)

For the "Disconnector" app, enter the following into the text area of the "Execute Shell Script" event:

echo YOUR_ADMIN_PASSWORD | sudo -S rm -rf /System/Library/Extensions/IO80211Family.kext

Replace "YOUR_ADMIN_PASSWORD" by your admin password. Then save the app and drag its icon to the Dock.

Now, when you are sure you want to be free of all online distractions, click the app icon, and the IO80211Family.kext is gone. Just restart your laptop and you can no longer connect to WLAN:

No hardware installed

For the "Reconnector" app, enter the following into the text area in Automator:

echo YOUR_ADMIN_PASSWORD | sudo -S cp -r /Volumes/NAME_OF_YOUR_USB_STICK/IO80211Family.kext /System/Library/Extensions/

Replace "YOUR_ADMIN_PASSWORD" by your admin password and "NAME_OF_YOUR_USB_STICK" by the name of your USB stick. Save the app etc.

Now when you return home, insert the USB stick that carries the IO80211Family.kext into your laptop, click the Reconnector app icon and then restart your laptop. Now you can connect to WLAN again.


There are some security issues invovled when you echo your admin password, because by that it is written to the shell history and can be found there. I don't care, but you might, depending on your circumstances.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Discussions of willpower aside, my research suggests that the file you need to copy to the USB stick and later restore is /System/Library/Extensions/IO80211Family.kext. This will require a reboot to take effect.

Before removing any system files, be sure you have a working bootable backup of your system and time on hand to restore things should anything go wrong. I have not tested this solution on my system and am not willing to do so.

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I've answered similar questions before, so I'll just link to those for reference and provide a TL;DR here

"Anything you can do or install or configure in order to produce a technical block to stop you running these apps, can also be undone", so the only real answer is to work on your will power.

The best you can hope is to try to make it more hassle than it's worth to mess around instead. Try to create a new user account without any WIFI passwords stored etc, and force yourself to have to log out or switch users to procrastinate. This isn't perfect, and it probably won't work.

As you say, you know the passwords by heart, so perhaps you will have to do something like set a static IP that won't route over the WIFI even if you connect because it will be different from the DHCP details you would normally be given, but obviously, as a technical measure, even this can be undone.

If this is a big big problem, you might need a combination of techncial workarounds that are backed up by another person you trust maintaining the administrator passwords to stop you from being able to undo the blocks put in place.

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Your answers don't work for me and are not what I'm asking for. Note that my question includes the word "deinstall", while the other questions don't. I had a Windows laptop and there simply deleted the software that did the WiFi connection. No more WLAN for me and no way to reinstall it while not at home. Foolproof. And with software like Firefox, you can copy your app to a different HD, delete it from your computer, later copy it back and run it as if it was never gone. Maybe something similar is possible for WLAN. That's what I'm asking for. –  what Aug 22 '13 at 10:46
Well, it was worth answering anyway. Your question falls into the trap of you having already decided the answer, and merely wanting assistance in achieving it. So you would be better to either accept ideas for other ways to solve your actual problem, or narrow the question to remove the why and focus on just getting clarification for your chosen solution. –  stuffe Aug 22 '13 at 10:53
lol, usually when I ask something straightforward without explaining the context there is a lot of back and forth about why doing what I want is not a good idea or what else I might do for what people think I want to achieve :-) Thanks for trying to help me! –  what Aug 22 '13 at 10:59
I've edited your question, and you may get some better answers now, but this is still a technological way to solve a non technological problem. And this is coming from someone who isn't unaware of the issues. I foresee a time when you might one day think "I'll just carry these files I removed on a USB stick, for emergencies only rather than leave them at home", etc etc, and be on the slippery slope again. Best of luck. –  stuffe Aug 22 '13 at 11:21
Thank you, but no, I have to study :-) –  what Aug 22 '13 at 12:05

Just delete the login credentials of the WLAN of the university library.

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That doesn't work, because I have memorized the login credentials (they are the same for all electronic services and everyone knows theirs by heart). If I delete the login credentials, I can re-enter them in a matter of seconds. –  what Aug 22 '13 at 10:29
You could in addition prevent non-admin users from joining new WLANs and use a non-admin user for your daily work. Still not what you need but at least better than nothing (and I agree with @stuffe that you can't win the fight against procrastination with technology) –  patrix Aug 22 '13 at 11:46

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