Do you need to set priorities for Windows 7 about which wireless networks to connect to, automatically? Do you need to make it stop connecting each time it detects certain networks? Do you want to modify the connection settings for a wireless network? Answers to all these questions are found in this article.
Opening the Manage Wireless Networks Window
In order to access and modify your settings related to wireless network connections, you need to open the Manage Wireless Networks window. First, open the Network and Sharing Center. There, on the left side column, click on Manage wireless networks. If you can't find it, we have its direct shortcut in our Library of Windows 7 Shortcuts.
In the Manage Wireless Networks window you can see all the wireless networks to which your computer connected in the past. For each of these networks, you can edit their connection settings.
Setting the Order in Which You Connect to Wireless Networks
One of the very cool things you can do is to set the priority between networks. Simply select each network one by one and use the Move up and Move down buttons to arrange their order the list of priorities.
What does this means? If a network is at the top of the list, Windows 7 will connect to it automatically, even though others from the list are available.
However, in order for this to work, you need to open the properties of the less important networks. Simply double click on them and, in the Connection tab of their Properties window, check the box which says "Connect to a more preferred network if available".
If you set the list of connection priorities and checked the box mentioned above for the less important networks, you can build an automated system for Windows 7 to manage your wireless connections.
To help you understand things, let's take this example: you are at exhibition center A, joining several presentations at a big event which goes on for a few days. In the exhibition center there is a Wireless Network A, available across the hallways and most of the rooms. However, its signal strength varies greatly between rooms.
In exhibition rooms B and C, there are individual wireless networks (B and C), which cover only these rooms but have a better signal strength than network A.
You will want Windows 7 to connect to networks B and C, instead of A, whenever you join the rooms where they are available. Therefore, in the priority list, put networks B and C at the top and A at the bottom. Also, edit the properties of wireless network A, so that Windows 7 connects automatically to the more preferred networks B and C, when they become available.
Stopping Windows from Automatically Connecting to a Network
When you connect for the first time to a wireless network, you most probably check the option which says "Connect automatically".
It can happen that you no longer want this behavior. If that's the case then, in the Manage Wireless Networks window, double click on the network for which you want this changed. In its Properties window, uncheck the option which says "Connect automatically when this network is in rage".
Other Advanced Wireless Network Settings
When accessing the properties of a wireless network, you can change also some more advanced settings.
For example, in the Properties window of a wireless network, you will find a tab called Security. There you will be able to change the security and encryption type of the network, plus the security key used to connect to it.
However, make sure you are changing these settings for good reasons. If your connection to a wireless network is working fine, do not change them. If the settings need changing for valid reasons (e.g. you changed the password on the router broadcasting this network), change them and click OK.
Clicking on the Advanced settings button will allow you to check if your network needs to be compliant with the FIPS security standard used for sharing sensitive information (valid only for government networks).
As you can see from this tutorial, the Manage Wireless Networks window gives you access to lots of cool options about managing wireless network connections, that can help in many scenarios. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to use the comments forms below. Also, look on the list of articles recommended below, where you will find more tips about wireless networks.