Picture of the iOS "Choose Wi-Fi Network" Screen, with no networks connected.

How to Change WiFi Network on iOS Devices

Knowing how to change WiFi networks on your iOS devices allows you to quickly connect to local wireless networks anywhere you go.

You may need to connect your iOS mobile device to different WiFi networks as you move about among offices, stores, friends’ houses, and coffee shops.  Or, perhaps you have changed the name of your home WiFi network, or you want to connect your iPad to a different WiFi access point (WAP) in your home such as a 5 Ghz. network.  This can be accomplished by following the procedure below, which shows how add WiFi networks to the list of networks that your phone will connect with when in range.  This procedure is valid for mobile devices running iOS 7 up through iOS 11.

1.  Turn on your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), if it’s not already active, enter your four-digit PIN.

2.  Press the Home button, to get to the first Home screen page as pictured next.  You must start there because that’s where the  Settings   app is located, where we will visit in order to update the wireless network connections.

3.  Locate the Settings app icon, as circled in pink below.

Picture of the first home page on a typical iOS 8 Device with the Settings app circled in pink.
Home Page 1 on a typical iOS 8 mobile device, with the Settings app Circled in Pink.

4.  Tap the Settings app icon, and the Settings screen should immediately expand and fill the screen, as shown next.  Since we’ve previously selected the WiFi item in prior settings change sessions, it is selected here already, as shown.  This screen displays a list of the in-range WiFi networks, and in this case, the one we’re connected to at the top of the list with the blue checkmark to its left.  Note that we are currently connected to the 937T681J4059H_5G network.

Picture of the iOS WiFi Network Connections Screen, showing a list of available in-range, and connected WiFi networks.
iOS WiFi Network Connections Screen, showing a list of available in-range, and connected WiFi networks.

5.  Next, tap the connected network line, again the checked entry above.  The   Network Information   screen then appears, as shown below.

We’ve selected the WiFi network connections and settings item (far left, highlighted in blue and circled in pink).  In our scenario here, as noted earlier, we’re already connected to the 937T681J4059H_5G wireless network.  Below, we will disconnect from this network, and connect to another that is also in range or our iPad Air, the device we used for this demonstration.  You may use variations of this procedure to select in-range wireless networks for connection while roving among different locations.

Picture of the iOS Settings WiFi Page with WiFi option selected and circled in pink.
iOS Settings WiFi Page, WiFi option circled in pink.

6.  Next, tap the “Forget this network” item   pictured above in blue.  This forces disconnection from the current WiFi network.  But before detachment actually occurs, the   Forget Network Confirmation   dialog box appears as pictured next.

We “Forget” the current wireless network due to potential errors that might occur when the iPad / iPod Touch / iPhone automatically connects to the stronger or more reliable of the two networks, and drops the weaker one.  When two or more WAPs are in range of a WiFi enabled iOS device, and both sets of login credentials (SSIDs and passwords) for each network exist in memory, and both networks are configured to automatically connect when close enough to your device, the mobile device may unexpectedly switch connections among these if the current one becomes weaker or significantly slower than the other.  This can happen as you walk around your space with the device while streaming movies and radio shows to it.

This “behind the scenes” WiFi network switching can impact video streaming from digital video recorders, and result in stream interruption.  Even if both WAPs are wired to the same home network, and both have direct access to the DVR or other streaming player, an unexpected WiFi switch can cause the video to freeze or generate an error message; requiring a manual restarting of the show stream.  We anticipate that future releases of router, DVR, and iOS firmware will improve streaming recovery when automatic WAP switching occurs.  But in the meantime, you can minimize these sorts of errors by configuring JUST ONE in-range WAP, and making sure that no others are “remembered” by your iOS device.  To ensure that, we “forget” the currently-connected network information.  We confirm our desire to forget in the next dialog box.

Picture of the ''Forget Network Confirmation'' Dialog Box on iOS Devices.
Forget Network Confirmation Dialog Box on iOS Devices.

7.  Tap the   Forget    button, circled in pink in the previous picture.  The dialog box disappears, the current network (in this case, the 937T681J4059H_5G network) is relinquished, and the following screen is drawn.  This iPad Air is no longer connected to any network, which you can verify by looking at the leftmost column.  Under the blue “Wi-Fi” settings bar, the connection status field says, “Not Connected.”

iOS WiFi Network Information Page, Showing Disconnected Wireless Network. Note the blank IP address, subnet mask, et al fields, circled on the right.
iOS WiFi Network Information Page, Showing Disconnected Wireless Network. Note the blank IP address, subnet mask, et al fields, circled on the right.  We are no longer connected to the 937T681J4059H_5G network (also circled at the top of this screenshot.

8.   Tap the blue “< Wi-Fi”  link at the top of the picture just above here.  This closes the Network Information  screen, and takes you back to the Choose a Wi-Fi Network screen, as shown in the next picture.  We’ve circled the connection status at the left, showing “Not Connected” state, as well as the network that we were previously connected to, in the right column.  No networks listed near the top of this page, means that the iOS device does not remember connection information for any of the in-range WiFi access points (WAPs), or at least, has been configured NOT to automatically connect to any of them.  This is what you want, so that the network we’re going to connect with next, is the ONLY one in range at the current location that your iPad / iPhone / iPod Touch will connect to.

Also, on this screen, the iOS device automatically searches for and displays any in-range WAPs it discovers.

Picture of the iOS "Choose Wi-Fi Network" Screen, with no networks connected.
The iOS Choose Wi-Fi Network Screen, with No Network Connected.  Note that we’re no longer connected to the 937T681J4059H_5G network.

9.  Tap the desired in-range WiFi network.  In this scenario, we’re logging into the 937T681J4059H_2G access point, the 2 Ghz. SSID on our dual band WAP.  We tapped that and received the password prompt dialog box, as pictured next.

Picture of iOS, prompting for selected Wi-Fi network password prior to connecting.
iOS Prompting for Selected Wi-Fi Network Password prior to connecting.

10.  Enter the network password   via the virtual keyboard, pictured above, and then press the   Join   button.   You are then returned to the Select Wi-Fi Network   screen.  But now, the new network to which we’re connected is shown near the top, with the blue checkmark, and circled in pink.

Picture of the Select Wi-Fi Network Screen on iOS, showing the newly connected network on the right side top area of this settings page.
iOS Select Wi-Fi Network Screen, Showing Connected Network.

Your device is now connected to the new WiFi network, and will automatically connect to this network when it comes within range.

Note that logging into “visible” networks as we’ve done above, allows your device to receive some information about the network from the WAP, prior to actually connecting.  Among other tidbits, things like the SSID, type of authentication (WEP, WPA, WPA2), and encryption (TKIP, AES) are relayed.  Therefore you do not need to enter or even know these details when connecting.  But, if you want to connect to a hidden WiFi network, you must know in advance all of these network particulars and manually type them in.  This procedure is not addressed in this article, as we recommend connecting to visible networks to avoid the extra hardships involved with hidden ones.


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Revision History

  • 2018-02-22: Revised title and keyword targeting, and added a Related Posts section.
  • 2015-09-19: Added mention of iOS versions 7, 8, and 9, to which the above described procedure applies.
  • 2015-08-16: Originally published.