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How to Reset Network Settings on a Mac

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Macs are very reliable nearly all of the time, but sometimes you may face difficulties while connecting to the internet or encounter slow browsing speeds. The internet could be working fine on your other devices, which can be annoying. It's often not obvious what the cause of a problem is, or even if there is one at all.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, you may want to reset the network settings on your Mac. There are various settings you can reset, and the details can be daunting. Fear not; we'll explain what you should try to resolve your network issues.

Why Might You Need to Reset the Network Settings on Your Mac?

Generally, you should feel confident using macOS. It's a solid operating system that is reliable 99% of the time. However, there may be times where you find yourself unable to connect to the internet or to browse websites. Wi-Fi is working, the internet is up and running on all your other devices but, for some reason, your Mac fails to connect.

If you frequently use a VPN, there's a chance that the network settings have gotten messed up on your system. Internet settings can be quite sensitive, as even the slightest change or tweak can result in a loss of connectivity to the internet.

How to Reset Internet Settings on Your Mac

The good news is that, like other operating systems, you can reset the network settings on your Mac. Unfortunately, there's some bad news. Unlike Windows and even iOS, there is no one-click method of resetting the network settings on your Mac.

There are two solutions you can use to reset your Mac's network settings. If you're facing temporary problems, you can simply reset the current Wi-Fi network you're connected to. Your Mac will forget the settings for the current network, and you can connect to it from scratch, just as you did when you first set it up. Doing this usually resets the Wi-Fi network settings, and should solve the problem.

However, if things still don't get resolved, you can use the second method to delete the network configuration files from your Mac. This is a complicated method, but it's the ultimate fix for any stubborn network issues you might face.

Before you proceed, make sure that the issue is with your Mac and not with your Wi-Fi connection itself. A simple way to do this is to check the internet connectivity lights on your router. You should also check whether the internet works on any other device (iPhone, iPad, etc.) connected to the same W-Fi network.

How to Reset the Wi-Fi Connection

The first and easier method involves resetting the network connection for either Wi-Fi or Ethernet. This will delete the connection and then reestablish it. It will also delete the Wi-Fi data (username and password) from your system, so it's essential you have the details noted down. This will help you recreate the connection later.

Here's how to reset the Wi-Fi connection. This is the default, and most common, connection in use, but yours may be different. You may be using an Ethernet connection instead, for example.

  1. Open up System Preferences on your Mac.
  2. Click on Network.
  3. Select Wi-Fi from the left-hand pane.
  4. Click the minus (-) icon below the list of connections.
    Remove Wi-Fi from Network Settings
  5. Click on Apply. This should disable your Mac's Wi-Fi.
  6. Now, to add it back again, select the plus (+) icon.
    Add New Wi-Fi Connection
  7. Select Wi-Fi and select Create.
    Adding a new Wi-Fi connection
  8. Click on Apply, and you should see the option to select a Wi-Fi connection. Select the connection you want to connect to and enter the password. Your Mac should now connect, and the internet should be working normally.

Reset the Network Configuration Files

If the method detailed above doesn't work for you, this one should help. It's a bit more complicated but it's completely safe. This process deletes certain system files relating to network settings. Your Mac will then restore them the next time you restart it.

To do this:

  1. Turn the Wi-Fi off from the Wi-Fi icon in the top menu bar.
    Turning off Wi-Fi from menu bar
  2. Open up Finder, and click on Go in the top-left menu bar. Select Go to Folder.
  3. Enter the following address into the text field and click Go./Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/
    Network Configuration Folder Address
  4. A Finder window should open up with some system files in front of you. Select the following files:
    • com.apple.airport.preferences.plist
    • com.apple.network.identification.plist or com.apple.network.eapolclient.configuration.plist
    • com.apple.wifi.message-tracer.plist
    • NetworkInterfaces.plist
    • preferences.plist
  5. Copy these files and save them to a safe location as a backup. This will help you restore the network settings in case you face any issues.
    Network Configuration Files
  6. Now remove those files from the SystemConfiguration folder. Select them and press Command + Delete to move them to the Trash.
  7. Once done, empty the Trash to permanently delete the files.
  8. Now restart your Mac.

macOS should now regenerate the network configuration files you deleted and all your network settings should be reset.

Try connecting to the internet to see if everything works properly. If all goes well, and you can browse the internet successfully, you can go ahead and delete the files you saved earlier as a backup.

Reset the Network Settings Using Terminal

If you're more comfortable using Terminal instead of the System Preferences app, you can use it to reset the network settings. This will reset the current Wi-Fi network and allow you to rejoin it, similar to what you did in the first section.

  1. Open up Terminal on your Mac.
  2. Enter the following command:
    sudo ifconfig en0 down

    You'll need to enter your password since sudo is a privileged command. Once you've entered it, the command should turn off your Wi-Fi.

  3. Now enter the following command to re-enable Wi-Fi:
    sudo ifconfig en0 up
  4. That's it. Try connecting to the Wi-Fi network again to see if it works.

Still No Luck?

If you've used the methods above and your issue remains, your Mac may have a hardware problem rather than a software issue. Your best bet would be to take it into an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Repair Centre to get it checked and repaired.

Updating Your Settings Can Solve Many Network Problems

Using the methods above should solve your network issues 99% of the time. But if you're still facing slow browsing across all your devices, you may want to consider contacting your ISP or upgrading to a higher network speed.

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