I'm running Catalina, and the OS will always turn wifi on at boot. I've been looking into methods to turn wifi power off when I login, and I've created a .plist:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">

which is placed in ~/Library/LaunchAgents, and the file .wifi_off.sh is:

networksetup -setairportpower en0 off

Is this quickest and/or most efficient way to disable wifi at login? How can this be extended to disable wifi at boot, so that wifi is disconnected at the login screen, before anyone has logged in?

  • I'm assuming that you want it off at boot/login but you still want to remember the networks to connect to at a later point, correct? If that's the case, don't run this as a launch agent, but as a launch daemon. apple.stackexchange.com/questions/249446/… – Allan Jan 31 '20 at 6:26
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    Also, try using a logout hook to turn off WiFi when the user shuts down. WiFi power is persistent across reboots (my WiFi on my iMac is defaulted to off and stays that way across restarts) – Allan Jan 31 '20 at 6:29
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    if you put it in /Library/LaunchDaemons/ and make sure that it is owned by root, then you do not need sudo at all. And you don't need a separate shell script. You can just put /usr/sbin/networksetup -setairportpower en0 off in your plist as the ProgramArguments – TJ Luoma Feb 1 '20 at 3:04
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    If you're making changes to the plist, then yes, you should unload it. – Allan Feb 1 '20 at 4:54
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    I know some folks like the simplicity of crontab, but launchd is the way to go. You're right that you don't need a separate script for this. If you find it doesn't work, it might need to be in LaunchDaemons instead (that runs as root). – TJ Luoma Feb 9 '20 at 1:02

You may be asking two different things, but in the last paragraph you said:

The ultimate goal is to prevent the system from automatically logging into a network

Prevent System From Automatically Logging Into a Network:

I think the way to accomplish that is to un-check (disable) the Auto-Join feature for each WiFi network name/SSID that's stored. System Preferences, Network, Advanced.... Uncheck all checked boxes in the "Preferred Networks" list. enter image description here

Also note that there are a couple of other options here that may be of interest:

  • You can uncheck the option to "Remember networks this computer has joined"
  • You can check the box to "Require administrator authorization to: Turn Wi-Fi on or off.

To Disconnect WiFi Power at Boot Time:

To disconnect wifi power at boot time, you can use cron. It's certainly simpler than building a .plist, and it's invoked at boot instead of login. In my testing, it survives a login, but of course it could be "overruled" by other system settings -- YMMV. It can be re-started from the WiFi icon in the menu bar after login when you wish. Here's how to do this from the CLI:

crontab -e 

This will start your designated crontab editor, and open your current crontab. If you don't have a crontab (haven't used it previously), you'll be prompted to select from one of three choices for default editor. I'd suggest you choose pico or nano. That done, the default crontab will be opened in the editor of your choice.

Once the editor has started, make the following entry on the first empty line at the "bottom" the file:

@reboot /usr/sbin/networksetup -setairportpower en0 off

Save and exit the editor, and your new crontab becomes active. This command will now execute aach time your system boots, and (subject to the exception mentioned) your WiFi interface will be "OFF" until you turn it on.

  • So this is very helpful; I forgot about this option and I will use this. However, you're right that my original question asks two different things. For clarification, I'm looking to disconnect wifi power as well at boot or login. – irishwristwatch Jan 31 '20 at 5:45
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    @irishwristwatch: You've asked a very interesting question. I think my approach would be to disable the near-constant "network scanning" the system does instead of turning power off. (here's why) But I've not yet figured out how to do that. – Seamus Jan 31 '20 at 23:18
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    @irishwristwatch: Wrt your .plist, I'll mention this: 1.) A launchd 'User Agent' won't disable en0 until you log in. 2.) Consider the Launch Control app to use launchd; it will also allow you to invoke a System Agent 3.) If you wish to invoke at boot time, consider cron w/ @reboot schedule spec. (see revised answer) – Seamus Feb 1 '20 at 2:41
  • This "network scanning" to which you refer is very intriguing, but a little beyond me at the moment. Unless I'm missing something, that link states that this is problem in Linux and not in macOS. – irishwristwatch Feb 4 '20 at 23:46
  • @irishwristwatch: Yes - I was confused about the network scanning business - please ignore that comment. See my question here – Seamus Feb 5 '20 at 1:11

So I'm now using a combination of the crontab and the logouthook:

The crontab:

@reboot /usr/sbin/networksetup -setairportpower en0 off

The logout hook was generated like this:

sudo defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LogoutHook ~/.logouthook
echo '#!/bin/sh\nnetworksetup -setairportpower en0 off' > ~/.logouthook
chmod +x ~/.logouthook

I have not found a way to always display wifi status at the login screen, but it seems to show wifi connectivity if it is connected to a network, and not show any status at all if it is not.

I think these two items (crontab and logouthook) in combination may be a complete solution here, but I will also test global /Library/LaunchAgents so that I would not have to repeat any procedures if I want this new feature to automatically be applied to any new user that is created.

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