OS X Wi-Fi: Disentangling Yourself from the “Xfinitywifi” Network

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Lately I’ve been running into a lot of trouble with folks who’ve joined a Comcast “xfinitywifi” network. These nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots are provided by Comcast through the use of its customers’ modems, which I suppose is all right if you’re a Comcast subscriber who’s out and about and desperate for network connectivity. The issue starts, however, when computers begin auto-joining that open network after they’ve connected to it that first time. If you’re able to enter your Comcast credentials and access the Internet, great. But if you’re at home and should be on your own Wi-Fi instead—you know, the one with access to your printers, say—this can cause all sorts of frustrating issues that aren’t always easy for people to figure out. So if you need to stop the auto-joining madness on your own Mac or on someone else’s, here’s how. 

First, make sure you’re not actively using that Comcast network by clicking on the Wi-Fi icon at the top-right of your screen. The network you’re currently joined to will have a check mark beside it.

I have a very clever neighbor.

Then click on the Apple Menu at the upper-left corner of your screen and choose “System Preferences.”

When that application opens, click on the “Network” option, and then if it’s not already selected on the following screen, pick “Wi-Fi” from the left-hand list.

Next, choose “Advanced” at the bottom of the window.

On the drop-down that’ll appear, pick the Wi-Fi tab. You’ll scroll through your “Preferred Networks” list until you find the “xfinitywifi” one; then just select it and click the minus button to remove it.

Confirm that you know what you’re doing on Apple’s scary warning box.

Then you’ll have two final steps: Click “OK” for the current window, and then select “Apply” within the Network preferences pane when your Mac takes you back out there. And you’re done! No longer will you join that Comcast network automatically. Of course, you can re-join it manually if you must, but if you’re not a current Comcast subscriber, it won’t do you any good anyhow. 

And hey, what’re you doing going around randomly clicking on open Wi-Fi networks? Be careful with that, guys! Or at least use a VPN if you’re gonna do it anyway—I like Cloak myself.

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Additionally, if you want to remove that xfinitywifi from your home router all together… (after all why should people get a free ride on your router?):


Mike Lapinskas

If you are a Comcast customer, simply drag xfinity to the bottom of the list to give priority to the other known networks.

Melissa Holt

Hey ziploc,

Thanks for the suggestion! I think that’s a great idea.

Mike: While that’s a good thing to do (and I appreciate you pointing it out), the problem that I’ve had with a few people is that their home network goes down temporarily and then their Macs grab the only other known network available—i.e., the Comcast one. So removing it from the list won’t necessarily prevent the problem in all cases, but I definitely agree that folks should do what you suggested. grin


Melissa Holt

Er, I mean “moving the network down the list,” not “removing it from the list.” I need more coffee! wink


The problem with removing it from your Mac’s network list is that it also deletes it from your phone’s remembered networks.

So if you’re out and about and want to jump off n an open xfinitywifi network, you have to renter your credentials. And then, they’ll sync back to your Mac (if you’re using iCloud). It’s a mess.

Scott 2

The best “solution” to this problem would be for Apple to go back to the behavior of how Network Locations worked prior to 10.7, where the Wi-Fi “Preferred Networks” list was Location specific. That way, you could configure your Automatic Location with all the “hotspot” SSIDs, while also having Home and Work Locations with specifically defined SSIDs. I filed a bug on it, #9902012, that Apple closed as “Behaves Correctly”.

I travel a lot, to various client sites, some of whom have VERY specific Wi-Fi constraints (including that Wi-Fi needs to be DISABLED; I can be REMOVED from the site if my radio is on). The loss of this feature was regrettable for me. It also makes no sense, as some of the sites have specific network settings as well as specific SSIDs, so the SSIDs need to be Location specific. Further, Apple got whacked by a security issue BECAUSE of this behavior:

There is just no reason this issue exists given that OS X has functionality that can, and once did, solve it.

I’d suggest readers file Feedback or a Radar referencing Bug #9902012 and strongly suggest Apple work to reimplement Location-specific Preferred Wi-Fi SSID lists. (I’d also suggest that they ask that the Firewall activation be pulled up into the Location as well.)


~ Remove it? Like hell I will. It’s better than my own stinkin’ DSL service. I’ve moved it to the top of my list.

“Then click on the Apple Menu at the upper-left corner of your screen and choose ‘System Preferences.’
When that application opens, click on the ‘Network’ option..”

If you look at your first illustration, you’ll see that “Open Network Preferences” ia already there, at the the bottom of the list. Why go through all that other stuff?

Rick Landsman

Melissa, Your post is an extremely useful and appreciated contribution.

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