Wi-Fi is everywhere these days, from our homes to shopping centres, places of business and places of fun. It’s a huge benefit for all of us mostly, because it enables easy and substantially frictionless communication, whether that’s updating your Instagram profile, sending off that vital business email or online games to keep the kids entertained.
Prevalence does have its issues, however. There can be good reasons why you might not want to connect to a given Wi-Fi access point. For a start there’s the question of speed. It might have been useful the last time you in were in that shopping centre to hook into its free Wi-Fi for a quick search query, but what if it’s overloaded the next time you’re there? The data on your mobile plan might be way faster.
Security is the other big factor to consider. Public Wi-Fi networks are by their nature public, and if you don’t have a level of control over a network, you can’t be assured that it’s a safe and secure one. What you don’t want is for your phone, tablet, or laptop to preferentially hook into that public Wi-Fi if you’ve got a more secure, personally controlled connection to hand. You might not even realise that it’s done so if you don’t check your network connection specifically.
As such, it’s not a bad idea to give your Wi-Fi connections a bit of a spring clean from time to time. But how do you do that? Here’s how to get off Wi-Fi networks you don’t want to be part of anymore.
By default, Apple’s iPhones (and other connected devices on the same Apple account) will try to remember every Wi-Fi network you’ve ever connected to, which can lead to a huge and messy list of connected systems.
It’s easy enough to clear that list up. Open the Settings and tap on Wi-Fi. From there you should see a list of all currently available networks and the networks you’ve connected to in the past. Find the no-longer-welcome network and tap on the little “i” icon in the circle next to it. Right at the top in blue, there should be an option for “Forget this Network”. Tap it, confirm that you want it forgotten, and the job is done.
Android Phone (Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, etc)
The process for finding exactly where an Android phone hides Wi-Fi details can vary a little by Android version, but this should work for most phones.
Slide your finger down from the top of the screen to bring up the notification blind. Long press on the Wi-Fi icon (this may be called other things like “Internet”, but it’ll typically have the Wi-Fi icon as part of its button) to bring up your Wi-Fi networks.
From there, long press on the Wi-Fi network you want to forget. Forget should come up as an option. Tap on that, and your Android phone will drop that Wi-Fi pronto.
If that doesn’t work, check within that same Wi-Fi networks area for a cog or ellipsis menu option. Some phones have specific menus for managing connected networks that will let you forget specific networks as and when needed.
Windows can be tricky, because you usually don’t even bother looking at your Wi-Fi network settings unless something’s going wrong. That can lead to you connecting to older, slower less secure networks without you realising. I say that, because it’s happened to me with airport Wi-Fi, where I was left wondering why I couldn’t get any work done despite thinking I was paired to my phone’s much faster mobile broadband connection.
Luckily, this too isn’t too hard to manage. Open the start menu, and then the Settings App. Click on Network & Internet, and then click on Manage Known Networks. From there, you’ll get a list of every Wi-Fi network your Windows laptop knows about. You can then click on Forget to clear them in turn as needed.
The Network Preferences app in macOS can be accessed a couple of different ways. You’ll find it in the System Preferences app if you open that, or you can click on the Wi-Fi icon at the top right of your Mac display and choose it from there.
From there, make sure you have Wi-Fi connected, bearing in mind it may not be top of your network list if you also connect through a wired Ethernet adaptor of some sort. Click on “Advanced” and you’ll see a list of Preferred Networks, sorted in the order that your Mac will try to connect to them.
To forget a network, click on it to highlight it, and then click on the minus sign just below the list to remove it.
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