I have a Macbook Pro running Mac OS X, but it doesn't connect to Wi-Fi automatically. If I turn Wi-Fi on, I then have to manually select the network. Is there some way to change this behaviour?

  • I'd like to add that the same happened to me (with MBA 2011, 13", 10.7.2) when I switch from work to home: at home, the MBA can't automatically connect to my own —preferred— network, because there is another more "powerful" that is shown first in the list of networks. (Although this is randomly…)
    – F_Jofre_A
    May 7, 2012 at 3:35
  • did you ever find a fix for this? My laptop has started acting like this the last few months. Feb 16, 2017 at 21:59
  • Same here, seems it started after a system upgrade.
    – Max S.
    Jun 15, 2018 at 16:21
  • If you connect to wifi "OK" but want to automatically bypass the challenge prompt, see apple.stackexchange.com/questions/45418/…
    – rogerdpack
    May 23, 2019 at 14:58

5 Answers 5


I have spent about 6 years with 3 Macs with this kind of problem unresolved. I did not have it "in the very beginning", with some ancient versions of Mac OS X etc. Finally decided to look closer and it looks like it could be some "bug" that is related to the extra network settings that programs like VMWare Fusion, VirtualBox etc. leave on the Mac.

Essentially, OS X thinks the Mac is connected to these networks and does not need the Wi-Fi. Luckily, the automation service cron from the very old days seems to be still working in current Macs (I've read some complaints it doesn't), and I got it to execute a script to connect to Wi-Fi if disconnected. It is a two step process. First, run sudo crontab -e in Terminal, and paste in that editor:

*/1 * * * * /usr/local/bin/macWiFireconnect.sh

The most important line is the last, which executes macWiFireconnect.sh every one minute, you can change the 1 if you want. Then, the executable script macWiFireconnect.sh looks like this:

ping -c2 ${SERVER} > /dev/null
if [ $? != 0 ]
    networksetup -setairportnetwork en1 WifiName WifiPassword

Also enable the script to be executable.

sudo chmod 700 /usr/local/bin/macWiFireconnect.sh

So, the script runs the networksetup command if it cannot connect to Google.


Mac OS X should automatically join any known networks, as reported in the network applet. After you select the Airport service in the list of the network connection, you can click on the Advanced button, which will show a dialog that allows you to select your preferred networks, and to sort them.

first screenshot

second screenshot

The Mac will not automatically connect if it doesn't find any of the preferred networks, or if the preferred network requires a "password" that is unknown to the Mac.

  • Sorry, I should have added that the network is in preferred networks and that the password should be correct as it was auto-entered (I opened up the screen above, then added a new network by selecting a network I was already connected to)
    – Casebash
    Feb 23, 2011 at 10:52
  • If there are more networks available, it is possible the Mac doesn't understand to which you want to connect (even though it should follow the priorities given in the preferred networks). Verify the password is the correct one; if you entered one already, remove the network from the list of the preferred networks, and try again to connect. Also, verify the router is not blocking the computer basing on its MAC/IP.
    – apaderno
    Feb 24, 2011 at 5:04
  • 1
    I have the same issue. There are no other network, in my Preferred Networks there's only one.
    – Max S.
    Jun 15, 2018 at 16:21

In the Wi-Fi preferences, go into the advanced tab and drag your home Wi-Fi network to the top of the list. Remember to lock your settings once you are done. This should auto-connect once you switch on your AirPort.

  • Done that, doesn't work.
    – Max S.
    Jun 15, 2018 at 16:20

This helped for me... On the list of networks, my home network was actually listed twice. One instance was on the top, and the second way down the list. I moved the second instance to the top (both instances now at the top) and it now connects to the home network automatically.

I couldn't figure out how to delete the old instance, but it seems fine so far for both of them to exist.

Hope this helps


macOS Ventura 2023

System Settings > Wi-Fi > Choose ... of the network you wanna connect automatically > Choose Auto-Join

enter image description here

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