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Something is enabling low data mode on wifi on my iPhone(s) from time to time. I usually only notice when I see apps not updating or when I install or want to update an app. It then asks "Are you sure because of xx MB?".

I use (automated) shortcuts in my daily life, but low data mode isn't even an option via shortcuts, only low power mode, which does not trigger low data mode switch inside the wifi profile. My shortcuts do control airplane mode and wifi switch, but I am at loss how any combo's of that could result in low data mode.

Qv1: Does anyone have any idea what could enable wifi low data mode (besides the manual switch inside a wifi profile)?

Additional remarks:

  • low data mode is also a switch somewhere under mobile data, this question is not about that switch; only the wifi variant.)
  • low power mode is not active when I encounter this state so the battery icon is green.

Additional remarks added after comments and time:

  • Wifi profiles are synced accross devices, iPhones and Macs. (Thanks jksoegaard.)
  • I disabled the checkbox 'Connect automatically...' for most Wifi networks inside the Mac settings because I do not want the Mac connecting to Wifi networks automatically. (It is connected via Cable.)
  • Due to unclear circumstances I had to uncheck all the checkboxes again, it seemed to have forgotten my preferences.
  • Later on, I encountered my phone in low data mode again.

The evolved question:

If there is a true causality, I don't know for sure; might be a coincidence. I can only guess on what caused the Mac (wifi) setting's amnesia, so I cannot reproduce it.

Qv2: Could you somehow unintentionally cause low data mode (inside wifi profiles) on your iPhone by changing settings on your Mac related to the same wifi profile?

(Low data mode does not exist on MacOS wifi profile as far as I know.)

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  • To turn off wifi low data mode, instead of cellular. Step 1: Open Settings and go to Wi-Fi. Step 2: Tap the name of your WiFi network. Step 3: Enable or Disable Low Data Mode. – ABC May 9 at 4:31
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As far as I know, there's nothing in standard iOS that automatically changes this setting.

However, there's a few pit falls you might have run into instead:

  1. The setting is synchronised across your devices using iCloud. This means that if you enable Low Data Mode for a specific WiFi network on your iPad, this setting is then automatically enabled on your iPhone. Perhaps a family member is changing this setting on another iOS device which triggers a change on your iPhone - lots of confusion.

  2. The setting is automatically enabled when connecting to Personal Hotspots. This means that if the WiFi network you're connecting to is not for example a home router or an office network, but instead an iPad or iPhone that is sharing its internet connection, then Low Data Mode will automatically be enabled every time you connect.

  3. You might have multiple SSIDs (network names) for your home network, and you're only changing the setting on one them - creating confusion. For example if you have separate SSIDs for 2.4 Ghz and 5 GHz, or separate SSIDs for a guest network or even separate access points in your home, you should be aware that changing the Low Data Mode setting only changes it for that specific SSID. If you later connect to a different SSID on the same network, you'll need to make the change again.

UPDATE: You have since updated your question to basically ask a different question:

There's no setting in the macOS GUI for Low Data Mode. There's no way to set this from System Preferences or any other built-in GUI tool or command line tool.

This means that it is extremely unlikely that you could turn on Low Data Mode for a WiFi network simply by changing a settings for the WiFi network on the Mac.

However, it does not mean that it is fully impossible. If it did indeed happen, it would indicate a bug in Apple's software where somehow changing an unrelated setting makes macOS synchronize a Low Data Mode setting for the network, which your other devices would then pick up.

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  • Thank you. When it happens again I'll backtrack if any other devices are responsible. (Pitfall #1). – user417100 May 10 at 15:02
  • Perfect - please mark my answer as accepted if it answers your question! – jksoegaard May 10 at 15:15
  • @jksoegaard Have you figured out if it is a possible third-party application he has installed causing this? – ABC May 11 at 3:12
  • Third party applications cannot change such settings. – jksoegaard May 11 at 4:49
  • I figured out some more. It seems that other iPhones/iPads are not responsible, but a Mac might. As you suggested settings are synchronised on iCloud and this also includes machines with MacOS. I will update the post reflecting this new information. – user417100 May 14 at 21:22
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In regards to my comment, triggering off low data mode for Wifi.

Wifi Low Data Mode

To turn off WiFi low data mode regarding your Wifi connection, instead of cellular low data mode. This should not interfere when you change your cellular connection to low data mode.

  • Step 1: Open Settings and go to Wi-Fi.
  • Step 2: Tap the name of your WiFi network.
  • Step 3: Enable or Disable Low Data Mode

Suggestions: Update to the latest operating system, as well.

enter image description here

You might also notice that sometimes applications will not be allowed to refresh their data in the background, and FaceTime calls as an example are not the same quality as they normally would be. The same goes for streaming video, as well.

Enable Or Disable Low Data Mode For Celluar

  • Step 1: Open the Settings app and go to Cellular Data > Cellular Data Options.

  • Step 2: Enable or Disable Low Data Mode.

  • Step 3: Might be Celluar Roaming

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  • I appreciate the extra information. The screenshot displays the switch I am talking about, however, it is not an answer to my question. I did not ask how to turn it on or off, I asked what automation or factor could enable this switch on its own so I can prevent it. – user417100 May 10 at 10:07
  • @user417100 It might be a third-party application you have installed, we do not know your exact variables your cell phone consists of. Yet even the operating system version or model. – ABC May 11 at 3:11

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