When the administrator of a wifi network changes the network password to something new, previously associated devices that have the old password saved will no longer be able to connect until they re-enter their wifi passwords.

Unfortunately OSX handles this situation in quite an unpredictable way:

Whatever happens seems to have to do with the network security protocol in use and also differ between vendors. Sometimes it will just fail silently, sometimes it pops up a "connection timed out" alert box, sometimes it seems to get stuck, forever animating the AirPort menu bar item

Is it possible to force my MacBook to forget and/or bring back the network password entry dialogue?

  • On most mobile devices, iOS & Android, it is trivial to make the device "forget" a wifi network, and on subsequently selecting it again, effectively bringing up the password entry dialogue again. (This happens very often if you frequent any number of (wifi-enabled) cafes, restaurants or public spaces.)
    – conny
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 13:23

3 Answers 3


Open Keychain Access (in your Utilities folder in your Application folder).

Use the filter in the type right to type in the name of the wifi you want to forget.

Right click on results with the network name and choose Delete "[network name]."

Use the wifi menu to connect to the network again and you will be prompted for the wifi password.

Alternatively, follow these steps. Beware: the network names aren't searchable and your network name may not appear in Network settings if you have not successfully completed connecting to it before.

Open System Preferences (in your Applications folder).

Select the Network pane, and in the left-hand list of sources, select Wi-Fi or AirPort (this differs in different versions of OS X).

In the lower-right hand corner, click Advanced…. A pane will pop out, and in the list of tabs at the top, either Wi-Fi or AirPort will be selected (depending on OS X). This is the leftmost tab; if it isn’t, then click on it.

You should see a list of Preferred Networks. This is a list of all the wireless networks that your Mac knows about, and thinks that it knows passwords for. Select the network which has a changed password in the list, and press the little - button which is to the lower-left hand corner of the list.

Then press OK in the lower-right hand corner of the pane, and then Apply in the lower-right hand corner of the System Preferences window.

This “forgets” the network. The next time you ask your Mac to connect to that network, it will see it as a new network and throw up a password prompt for you. Once you enter the new password, OS X will treat it as before (logging in and connecting automatically for you).


The only two ways I have found so far are:

  • Selecting "Join Other Network..." from the AirPort menu bar item, manually typing in the network name (can be quite tricky when the SSID contains foreign characters or whitespace), and manually selecting the correct security protocol
  • Turn wifi off, open Keychain Access, make sure you select "all" sources in the left pane, select Find, enter the network name, select all matching items from the list, Delete them (-may require authenticating as admin)

None of them are very user-frienly :-/

  • Why do you need to select "all" instead of simply "Password"?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 8:54

I've found that forgetting the network sometimes won't help. The software that hotels seems to keep on treating the connection as already established. I've resorted to changing the MAC address (the unique hardware based ID) for my wifi ethernet interface. That forces the hotel to re-establish the connection. Don't worry - the address will go back to normal on the next reboot.

  1. Turn off wifi

  2. Open a terminal and enter: ifconfig

  3. It will list your interfaces include something along these lines:

en0: flags=8863<UP,BROADCAST,SMART,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> mtu 1500 ether d2:00:3d:71:51:05 ...

  1. The six pairs of hex digits separated by colon are the MAC address. en0 is usually the primary network interface and your wifi. Tweak the last digit (e.g. by adding one to it as I have below) and enter this line into terminal to soft change the MAC address (it will prompt for your login/admin password):

sudo ifconfig en0 lladdr d2:00:3d:71:51:06

  1. Then turn wifi back on and connect to the hotel wifi. It should bring up the login prompt as if you are a new user.
  • 1
    This is the only answer that has worked every time for me (should be official answer). I created a Gist for my own records and so other can get help too: gist.github.com/sshadmand/c41846faa104a4ddf75d94b55aaebac7
    – Sean
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 10:33
  • Also quora.com/unanswered/…
    – Pacerier
    Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 8:54
  • Also confirmed working on macOS Big Sur. It makes sense that the MAC would be cached by the host. @Gareth Bonus points for making me aware that you can change your MAC temporarily like this! Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 17:10

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