Disable Automatic Wireless Connections on Windows

Stay secure by preventing automatic connections to some networks

The Wireless Connection
The Wireless Connection
Introduction

By default, your Windows computer automatically connects to any known, existing wireless connection. After you provide credentials and connect to a network one time, Windows automatically connects you to that network the next time it detects it. The connection information is stored in a network profile.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

Reasons to Prevent Automatic Connections

Usually, this practice makes sense, including on your home network. However, for some networks, you may want to turn off this capability. For example, networks in coffee shops and public places are frequently unsecured. Unless you have a strong firewall and are careful, avoid connecting to these networks because these are frequent targets of hackers.

Another reason to avoid automatic network connections is that your computer might connect you to a weak connection when a stronger one is available.

Another option is to disconnect manually from the network. When Windows detects that you have manually disconnected from a network, it prompts you for authentication the next time you connect.

Disable Automatic Connections in Windows 10

When you don't want your computer to connect to your ISP automatically, turn off automatic connections. On Windows 10, you do this through the Action Center.

  1. In the lower-right corner of the screen, select the Action Center icon, then choose All Settings. The WIN+I keyboard shortcut does the same thing.

    A screenshot of Windows with the All Settings button highlighted
  2. Select Network & Internet.

    A screenshot of Windows settings with the Network & Internet section highlighted
  3. In the left pane, select Wi-Fi.

    A screenshot of Windows Network settings with the Wi-Fi heading highlighted
  4. In the Related Settings section, select Change Adapter Options to open the Network Connections dialog box. 

    A screenshot of Windows Wi-Fi settings with the Change Adapter Options heading highlighted
  5. Double-click the relevant Wi-Fi connection to open the Wi-Fi Status dialog box.

    A screenshot of a Wi-Fi network in Windows settings
  6. Go to the General tab, then select Wireless Properties to open the Wireless Network Properties dialog box.

    A screenshot of a Wi-Fi status window in Windows with the Wireless Properties command highlighted
  7. Go to the Connection tab, then clear the Connect Automatically When This Network is in Range check box.

    A screenshot of a Wi-Fi network's properties in Windows with the "Connect automatically" option highlighted
  8. Click OK to save the setting and close out of the dialog box.

Disable Automatic Connections in Windows 8

On Windows 8, there's not a setting for disabling automatic connections, but you can forget networks, which accomplishes the same thing.

  1. Select the Wireless Networking icon in the system tray located in the lower-right corner of the desktop. This icon consists of five bars of increasing size from small to large.

    Alternatively, activate the Charms utility, select Settings, then select the Network icon.

  2. Identify the network name in the list. Right-click and select Forget This Network. This deletes the network profile.

Disable Automatic Connections in Windows 7

In Windows 7 you can disable automatic connections or forget a network to prevent your computer from connecting to Wi-Fi networks you've used before.

  1. Click the Start button, then click Control Panel.

  2. Select Network and Sharing Center in the Icon view. For the Category view, choose Network and Internet, then select Network and Sharing Center.

  3. Select Change Adapter Settings.

  4. Right-click the relevant network, then choose Properties to open the Connection Properties dialog box.

  5. Select the Authentication tab and clear the Remember my Credentials for this Connection Each Time I'm Logged On check box.

Forget a Network in Windows 7

Another way to prevent automatic connections in Windows 7 is to forget the network, essentially removing it in Windows.

  1. Click the Start button, then click Control Panel.

  2. Select Network and Sharing Center in the Icon view. For the Category view, select Network and Internet, then choose Manage Wireless Networks.

  3. Select the Wi-Fi connection, then select Remove.