How to Prevent Wi-Fi From Connecting Automatically

Change settings to prevent automatic Wi-Fi connections to public hotspots

Connecting to an open Wi-Fi network like a free wireless hotspot exposes your computer or mobile device to security risks. While not usually enabled by default, most computers, phones, and tablets have settings that allow these connections to initiate automatically without notifying you.

This behavior must be managed carefully to avoid security risks of using open networks. Check your wireless network settings to verify whether these settings are enabled, and consider changing them. Wi-Fi auto-connect should only be used in temporary situations.

You can also completely disable Wi-Fi to avoid using it altogether, regardless of the network type or whether it's a saved, new, open, or secured network.

Forgetting Wi-Fi Networks

Something else to remember beyond open networks is that your device may be set up to remember connections you used in the past, whether open or not. Saving network information is a great feature so that you don't have to keep re-entering or re-selecting each network you want to reuse.

However, if you want total and complete control over which networks you connect to, forget the network. Most devices have an option to delete the profile associated with the connection.

How to Disable Automatic Wi-Fi Connections

Computers and mobile devices work differently, so follow the directions that pertain to your device.

On Windows

In Windows 10, go to the network adapter settings, select Wi-Fi Status, and turn off the Connect automatically when this network is in range option. It's similar for Windows 8 and older versions of Windows.

screenshot - Connect automatically when this network is in range checkbox in Wireless Network Properties window

On iOS

iPhone and iPad devices associate an option called Auto-Join with each Wi-Fi profile. When enabled, your device connects to that network automatically when it's within range.

To stop that from happening for any specific Wi-Fi profile, go to Settings > Wi-Fi, and tap the small (i) next to the network name to find the Auto-Join button. Disable it to turn off the auto-joining feature.

This should work in iOS 11 and newer versions of iPhone and iPad.

Wi-Fi, info icon, and Forget This Network items on an iPhone

If you want your phone or tablet to quit asking you to connect each time you're within range of a network you haven't used before, such as an open network in a hotel or restaurant, go to the Wi-Fi settings page and disable Ask to Join Networks. If you keep it on, you'll be prompted to connect to each network your device finds, so having the feature off means you have to open this screen to manually select the networks you want to join.

On Android

To stop your Android device from auto-connecting to open networks, open the settings and go to Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi preferences. Then, turn off the Connect to public networks toggle switch to disable it.

Stopping connection to open networks on an Android phone

This is confirmed to work in Android 10 Q for Pixel, but might work in older versions of Android, too. If you don't see these specific screens, look through Settings for something like Mobile Networks or Connections.

Select the gear/settings icon next to the network you're currently connected to forget the connection details so that you don't auto-join the next time you're in range.

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