Forgetting WiFi networks in Windows 7 was a cinch. Just click Start, type “manage wireless” then start adding, removing, and ordering network profiles…
But how do you forget a WiFi network in Windows 8?
“Oh that’s easy” you say with a knowing grin on your face. “Just go to Settings, Windows Key + i, click the Wireless icon, right click the network and choose Forget This Network, easy”
That’s what I thought too; unfortunately, this option only appears if the network is in range. If the network isn’t in range then you can’t right click it to forget it because it doesn’t show up!
In order to completely delete an out of range wireless profile you actually have to pop open the command line interface and type a few arcane commands.
- Go to the traditional Windows Desktop
- Press Windows Key + x and then press c to open a command prompt.
First, we need to view all the WiFi profiles; enter the below command:
netsh wlan show profiles
I don’t want StRegisGuestRooms on my computer so I typed:
netsh wlan delete profile name="stregisguestrooms"
Case doesn’t matter, that’s why I typed the WiFi network in lowercase – but quotes DO matter. Without those it won’t work.
To reorder the WiFi networks so one has the highest priority, for example to make the network named 10110111 your preferred wireless network, first get the interface name by typing:
netsh wlan show interfaces
I’ve highlighted the interface name in yellow below. My interface name is simply called Wi-Fi
Now we’re going to set the wireless profile named 10110111 to be first; your wireless profile will undoubtedly be called something different, I just named my 10110111 to look cool.
netsh wlan set profileorder name="10110111" interface="Wi-Fi" priority=1
Priority=1 means that Windows will use this Wi-Fi network first; it becomes your goto Wi-Fi network. All the others are subordinate to this one.
On a side note, you can view the stored password in plaintext for any wireless profile, in my case 10110111, by typing the below command:
netsh wlan show profiles name="10110111" key=clear
This is a lot – I know.
To be honest I was aghast when I discovered Microsoft botched something so simple. This is a huge security risk because it’s a possible attack vector for hackers.
The problem is that Windows automatically connects to WiFi networks that are in range. This is a prudent move most of the time but if you’re connected to a public WiFi hotspot it’s not safe to have the computer reconnect without your permission.
There are bad people out there who setup rogue access points hoping unsuspecting users will connect just to get a free network connection. But these users don’t know their communications streams, every keystroke in some cases, is being monitored by someone with malicious intent.
For example, let’s say you’re at the Delta terminal at JFK waiting to board. You fire up your Windows 8 ultrabook and see a plethora of free networks – but two really stick out. The first with the strongest signal says, “Delta Free WiFi” and another directly beneath it says “Delta Air”.
Which one do you use?
Since you want to save some money and it has the strongest signal you choose Delta Free WiFi; however, in this case you would be connecting to a Honeypot, a WiFi network designed to look authentic but is really the work of some loser sitting next to you with a mobile hotspot in his pocket.
Now all your online transactions are being sent to a network monitoring app on his iPhone 5 and he’s capturing all your network activity and automatically uploading it to his Shared.com account.
Delta Air was the real Delta SSID but you didn’t know that because the sign advertising the company network was obscured by a fat dad with three crying kids.
So you picked Delta Free WiFi –
My point is that you don’t want malicious networks like Delta Free WiFi sitting on your computer. Fortunately, the above technique using netsh commands is guaranteed to solve the problem. Hopefully Microsoft clears this WiFi profile fiasco up in Windows 8.1, but honestly I haven’t heard anything about that, even as it relates to business. Currently all the commands in this article delineates the official way to remove WiFi networks in Windows 8.