How to Troubleshoot and Reset Wi-Fi Settings on Mac

Are you having trouble accessing the internet over Wi-Fi on your Mac? Or some crucial internet dependent applications won’t work for no apparent reason? I bet you have checked the internet source (router) and everything is fine. Other devices can access the Internet through the same network, but your Mac cannot. Do not worry. Many have been there. Here is what you can do. Reset your device’s Wi-Fi settings or network stack. This will restore your Mac’s network configurations to factory default settings and resolve connection issues.

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Reset Wi-Fi settings Main image of Mac network stack

Unlike other operating systems (eg Windows) with simple network reset methods, things are different with macOS. This guide will walk you through the solutions and highlight different ways to fix Wi-Fi connectivity issues on a Mac by resetting its network settings.

Note: You should only reset Wi-Fi settings on Mac when other troubleshooting methods (basic but effective) fail. In simpler terms, resetting Mac’s network settings should be your last resort to fix connectivity issues.

Before continuing, you should check out a few brilliant (but hidden) tools that allow you to diagnose your wireless connection on Mac. These tools analyze your Wi-Fi network, report connectivity issues, and recommend troubleshooting solutions accordingly. If you’re out of options and Wi-Fi still isn’t working properly on your Mac (pun intended), get ready to reset its network settings using the methods below.

Re-add the Wi-Fi interface

This involves removing Wi-Fi from your Mac and adding it back to your device’s network settings. It will also remove any previously connected networks and other Wi-Fi setups that may be causing network connection issues on your Mac.

Step 1: Launch System Preferences and select Network.


Reset Mac Network Stack Wi-Fi Settings

2nd step: Select Wi-Fi in the left section and tap the minus (-) icon in the lower left corner.


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This will immediately remove Wi-Fi from the list of connectivity options in the Network settings menu. Continue to re-add the Wi-Fi

Step 3: Tap the plus icon (+) in the lower left corner.


Reset mac 02 network stack wi-fi settings

Step 4: Next, tap the Interface drop-down button to display more connectivity options.


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Step 5: Select Wi-Fi from the list.


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Step 6: Tap Create to add a Wi-Fi connection to your Mac.


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Step 7: Finally, press Apply to save the changes made.


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And that’s all. You have successfully reset your Mac’s Wi-Fi settings.

Remove network configuration files

Another way to reset Wi-Fi settings on Mac is to delete Wi-Fi related configuration files. This is also quite easy to do. Simply go to the SystemConfiguration folder and delete the properties files (plist) containing the Macbook’s network configuration settings. Follow the steps below to do so.

Note: Before continuing, make sure your Mac’s Wi-Fi is turned off.

Step 1: Launch Finder and tap Go on the menu bar.


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2nd step: Select “Go to Folder” to open the path navigation window.


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Quick advice: You can use the “Shift + Command + G” keyboard shortcut to quickly launch the “Go to Folder” window.

Step 3: Enter the path below in the dialog box and press Go.


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Step 4: Select the following properties files (plist) from the SystemConfiguration folder and move them to another folder or trash (you can always restore them later) on your Mac.

  • com.apple.airport.preferences.plist
  • com.apple.network.eapolclient.configuration.plist
  • com.apple.wifi.message-tracer.plist
  • NetworkInterfaces.plist
  • preferences.plist

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You can move these (5) files to the Trash if you want, but saving them to another folder is a much better and safer option. In the rare event that your Mac’s network configuration is subsequently interrupted, you can easily restore these files to resolve the issue.

Step 5: Finally, restart your Mac.

Upon restart, macOS will automatically create all of these new plist files after resetting your Mac’s network settings.

Reset network stack or Wi-Fi connectivity settings on Mac

The “TCP / IP stack” is commonly referred to as a network stack on Macs. TCP / IP is an acronym that stands for Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol. Basically, these two protocols are responsible for connecting your device to the internet. If you’re having internet connectivity issues on your Mac and no other troubleshooting solution works, resetting the TCP / IP network stack to default settings may help. Here’s how.

Step 1: Launch System Preferences and select Network.


Reset Mac Network Stack Wi-Fi Settings

2nd step: Select the relevant network interface (Wi-Fi or Ethernet) and press Advanced.


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Step 3: Go to the TCP / IP tab.


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Step 4: Press the “Renew DHCP License” button and press OK when the process is complete.


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DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. By renewing your Mac’s DHCP lease, you are simply asking it to get new routing information or a new IP address from the DHCP server. When you do this, you have successfully reset your Mac’s TCP / IP network stack.

Stay logged in

As established earlier, resetting the Wi-Fi settings will remove any previously connected wireless networks on your Mac. If you can’t remember the passwords for each network, don’t worry. There are many ways to check the password (s) of saved Wi-Fi networks on Mac. Read this comprehensive guide for more information.

Then:

Wi-Fi or Bluetooth not working on your Android or iOS device? Do you want to reset network settings? Read the article below to find out what will happen.

Last updated Sep 28, 2020

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