That is, are there nvram boot-args to disable wifi or a startup key sequence that does? Safe mode is said to PARTIALLY disable Wi-Fi on some Macs.

I googled and couldn't find an answer.

Haven't managed finding/searching the source code because that's hard to do from ths iPhone. My Mac is not booting normally... Even in safe mode. (Diagnostic running now. ) I'm getting an error about AWDL mode suspending and I recently enabled AirDrop and so I want to see if I can boot if I completely disable Wi-Fi.

  • This is an XY Problem. Instead of trying to disable wifi, how about asking why your Mac doesn't boot? Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 18:21
  • 1
    @IronCraftMan, This may well be an XY Problem however sometimes to diagnose an issue disabling a given piece of hardware may be beneficial in the diagnostic process. So to that end I've provided an answer that will turn off power to the Wi-Fi network adapter in normal mode once rebooted from single-user mode. This may or may not help in the diagnostic process but it does answer the question asked. :) Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 18:43

2 Answers 2


I have a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013) and tested the following on it.

With my Wi-Fi network adapter turned on and connected, I shutdown my MacBook Pro. (This was to ensure the change I was about to make did indeed disable my Wi-Fi network adapter when rebooted.)

With the MacBook Pro shutdown, I then started it in single-user mode.

Start up in single-user mode or verbose mode

Use these steps to start up your Mac in single-user mode or verbose mode:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press the power button to start up your Mac.
  3. Immediately hold down the following keys:

    • Hold down Command-S for single-user mode.
    • Hold down Command-V for verbose mode.

You've successfully entered single-user mode or verbose mode when you see white text appear on the screen.

In single-user mode, run the following commands:

/sbin/fsck -fy
/sbin/mount -uw /

Once the filesystem has been checked and you've mounted the / volume as writable, use the following command to disable the Wi-Fi network service, which will turn off the power to the Wi-Fi network adapter when rebooted into normal mode.

networksetup -setnetworkserviceenabled Wi-Fi off

Now reboot using the reboot command, type reboot and press enter.

Once rebooted and in normal mode you can reenable the Wi-Fi network service, thus restoring power to the Wi-Fi network adapter, by doing the following.

In Terminal, use the following command:

networksetup -setnetworkserviceenabled Wi-Fi on

You'll be prompted for your password, as shown in the image below.

networksetup is trying to modify

Type in your password and click the Modify Configuration button, or press enter.

Note: While in single-user mode, if your wireless network service is not named "Wi-Fi" then use the following command to determine what network services you have.

networksetup -listallnetworkservices

On my system, after using networksetup -setnetworkserviceenabled Wi-Fi off the output was:

An asterisk (*) denotes that a network service is disabled.
Display Ethernet
USB Ethernet
Display FireWire
Bluetooth DUN
Thunderbolt Ethernet
Thunderbolt FireWire
iPhone USB
Bluetooth PAN

So, "Wi-Fi" was the right choice for me.

Note: I do not have FileVault enabled and if you do, you may have additional steps to take to access single-user mode.

  • Great answer presentation. Doesn't seem to work on my MBP. Am able to run the set command while my boot disk is writeable and the list command shows it worked but when I boot into safe-verbose mode (Cmd-shift-v -- yes its a valid combination) the output seems to but perhaps didn't Indicate the Wi-Fi is still on: (cont.) Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 5:34
  • (Oh and my Mac still isn't booting even in safe verbose mode. But I'd bet you've provided an answer to my question that will work for most people who look for it. ) Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 5:37
  • 5 "AirPort_Brcm4360_P2PInterface::"... Messages,half regarding AWDL. But I may be on the wrong troubleshooting path... Maybe I do need to ask why doesn't my computer booting question… If I do I'll link to it. I didn't think such a generic question was appropriate here. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 5:46
  • Looking at extant My Mac won't boot questions like apple.stackexchange.com/questions/225226/… now. FYI: MacBook Pro (13-inch Mid 2012) AHD run 3 times, found nothing wrong. Internal boot partition cloned to a partition on an external drive. Doesn't boot there either. PRAM resetn and Disk and Permission repairs didn't make it bootable. Verbose mode shows it is in an infinite loop. Warranty expired recently. I think it's time to restore from Time Machine. Genius Bar.is also an option. LitttleSnitch stuff is logged. Warrants uninstall. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 6:35
  • HD not failing per SMART status. 20% free space. Was seeing a lot of unexplained disk activity before I shut it down and found it wouldn't boot up. I can boot into Recovery Mode. Like OP at link in prev. comment, I have a 13" but may still be having the problem noted at apple.com/support/macbookpro-videoissues ... And sorry if these comments are becoming a bit OT! I can remove them after a while.. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 6:45

Yes, there is a workaround.
I have a faulty wifi card and it is stopping my system from booting.
By inserting a non-bootable CD and holding 'c' while powering on the system, I'm able to boot from a USB drive after the CD boot fails.

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