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When I work at my desk, my laptop (a 2021 macbook pro) is plugged into a thunderbolt dock with an ethernet interface that's connected to my wired network. I am also connected to wifi. Sometimes, a meeting will run longer than expected, and I'll want to move somewhere else in the house to work, meaning I need to unplug the thunderbolt cable, thus disconnecting me from the wired connection. When I do this, it takes a few seconds to switch over to using wifi only. Most of the time, this is fine, but if I'm on a zoom meeting, the delay is long enough that I drop from the meeting for a few seconds, which is disruptive. Is there anything I can do to tell my computer to start sending traffic over wifi only before unplugging the thunderbolt cable, so that the transition happens more seamlessly? I've tried setting the interface to inactive in system settings before unplugging, but even then, it takes several seconds to switch over.

I know I can switch to wifi before my meeting starts and avoid this problem, but if it's already too late, and I'm in a meeting and want to move to another room, is there anything I can do to avoid the blip while macOS figures out that the wired connection is gone?

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    Before you start your Zoom session, switch to WiFi. It takes a few seconds because there needs to be time for macOS to “learn” that the Ethernet route is no longer available and to try WiFi.
    – Allan
    Apr 19, 2023 at 17:25
  • I'm specifically asking about a situation in which I'm already in a meeting and want to move to another location in the house (say, because it's gone longer than expected)
    – Cody
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:33
  • My answer covers that. There will be a delay as it learns the new path to route traffic.
    – Allan
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:42
  • Sure, but the question isn't "will there be a delay?". I already know that there is.
    – Cody
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:49
  • My answer is “you can’t avoid that delay.”
    – Allan
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:50

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Is there anything I can do to tell my computer to start sending traffic over the WiFi connection before unplugging the Thunderbolt cable, so that the transition happens more seamlessly?

Switch to WiFi first

Turn on WiFi (if off) and disable/disconnect Ethernet before you begin your Zoom meeting.

You can even create a Location and call it “Zoom Meeting” with a configuration of having WiFi as the highest priority interface and Ethernet disabled (though Ethernet disabled should be more than sufficient).

There’s going to be a delay because macOS needs to “learn” or “detect” that the network route (Ethernet) is no longer viable and to try another interface (WiFi).

Why should there be a delay when you’re already connected?

… with an ethernet interface that's connected to my wired network. I am also connected to wifi.

Just because you have two enabled network connections, it doesn’t mean they are being used simultaneously. In fact, you cannot use both WiFi and Ethernet aggregately on the same network; macOS will select the one with the lowest latency (usually Ethernet). The bottom line here is that you’re using just one connection - Ethernet. WiFi is idle.

The OS (macOS, FreeBSD, Linux, Windows, whatever) encounters all sorts of delays and latency on the network for a myriad of reasons. It has no idea that one particular delay is intentional and another isn’t

To be candid, even in High Availability (HA) scenarios where links are aggregated for both improved throughput and being able to “seamlessly” continue operating in the event of a down network link, there’s *still” a couple seconds of latency as the switch and the server adjust. Ultimately, data isn’t lost but there’s still that “blip” on the radar.

Unfortunately, while you can aggregate multiple Ethernet interfaces, you cannot aggregate WiFi and Ethernet together.

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  • I'm not clear on what you're actually suggesting. Does "Switch to WiFi first" mean "Switch to WiFi before you join the meeting", or does it mean some other specific set of steps to take before unplugging from the wired network?
    – Cody
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:37
  • Unplug the cable or go into Network Settings and turn off/disable Ethernet before you join the meeting. You can even create a Location called “Zoom Meeting” where Ethernet is off and WiFi is the first priority.
    – Allan
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:40
  • That's what I'm already doing, which is causing the (admittedly minor) problem that I'm asking about how to avoid.
    – Cody
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:45
  • If Ethernet is off/unplugged, you can’t be getting a delay because all the traffic is on WiFi. If you are roaming the building where you work, when you switch Access Points (like switching cell towers as you drive), there’s also going to be a short “blip”
    – Allan
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:49
  • "you can’t be getting a delay" -- you're telling me what i'm experiencing is impossible, which makes me think you're misunderstanding the situation i am asking about. to be clear, the situation is: 1. im in a zoom meeting. 2. my laptop is connected to both wired + wifi. 3. the meeting runs long, and i want to move to another room, so I need to unplug the wired connection
    – Cody
    Apr 19, 2023 at 19:00

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