How to manage wireless networks in Windows 8.1

Windows 8 has extreme UI changes for management of wireless networks. The good old user interface of Windows 7 was removed, and now, Windows 8 provides you a touch friendly network pane to connect to a wireless network, and does not provide any GUI to remove the stored network profiles.
Let's see how we can make Windows 8 forget the stored network profile.

All tasks related to wireless network profile management in Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 must be done from the command prompt. The first thing you have to do is to open the command prompt. Please refer to the following article: Do you know all these ways to open an elevated command prompt in Windows?. Also, there is yet another way to open an elevated command prompt from Task Manager.

Well, in the opened command prompt, type netsh and press Enter. The following prompt will appear on the screen:

In the netsh console environment, we can perform several tasks.
To view stored wireless network profiles, type the following command and press enter:

wlan show profiles

This command will list stored wireless network profiles:

To view the stored wireless network key, type the following command:

wlan show profile name="Profile Name" key=clear

Replace the "Profile Name" part with the actual profile name from your PC which you can see in the Metro-style Network pane. The result will be as follows:

To delete a stored wireless network profile, you should execute the following command:

wlan delete profile name="Profile Name"

Replace the "Profile Name" part with the actual profile name from your PC which you can see in the Metro-style Network pane.

To change the wireless network priority, use the following command,

wlan set profileorder name="Profile Name" interface="Wireless Network Connection" priority=1

Replace the "Profile Name" part with the actual profile name from your PC. In this command, 'Wireless Network Connection' is the connection name of the W-Fi adapter, which you can see in Control Panel\Network and Internet\Network Connections:

So, in my case, the commands could be as follows:

Just for note:
Windows usually connects to networks in this order:

  1. Ethernet
  2. Wi-Fi
  3. Mobile broadband

When you connect to a new Wi-Fi network, it’s added to the list, and Windows will connect to that network while it’s in range. If you connect to another Wi‑Fi network while in range of the first network, Windows will prefer the second network over the first one.

Mobile broadband networks are treated differently. If you manually connect to a mobile broadband network when there is a Wi-Fi network in range, the mobile broadband network is preferred just for that session. The next time you’re in range of both networks, the Wi‑Fi network is preferred. This is because mobile broadband networks typically are metered.

If you want to force your PC to prefer a mobile broadband network over Wi‑Fi, tap or click the Wi-Fi network in the Metro-style list of networks, and then click Disconnect. Windows won’t automatically connect to that Wi-Fi network.

Also, you can prevent Windows from connecting automatically to any Wi-Fi network. Use the following netsh command:

netsh wlan set profileparameter name="Profile Name" connectionmode=manual

Replace the "Profile Name" part with the actual profile name from your PC.

Closing words
For some reason, Microsoft made wireless connection management extremely hard for a novice user. The good old UI is gone forever, and everyone is forced to use the command line or some third-party apps. This is not convenient for most users.

If you want a graphical way to manage wireless networks which doesn't involve using netsh or command prompt, see this article.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

8 thoughts on “How to manage wireless networks in Windows 8.1”

  1. Yep, obviously switching to using the command prompt to manage your wifi profiles is 100% touch screen friendly. Dumb asses at Microsoft, pull your head out of the sand!!!

    1. My guess is that the idea is that they’re trying to give Windows independent intelligence to deal with profile management itself, i.e. identifying behaviours and dealing with them accordingly. Though it completely removes flexible control and as you mentioned, isn’t suitable for their new target audience; touch screen users.

  2. Hi,
    I have no profiles and wanna to add one, however, it can not find my profile xml. Any idea?


  3. I’m not really sure what fixed this but in windows 8.1 we can manage wireless networks through the PC settings:
    PC settings => Network and then ‘manage known networks.’

  4. You need to run the command prompt as Administrator to see the Key Content. Yes, it’s obvious from the screen shots but why not just say it instead of referring us to other links about elevated command prompts?

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