How to Reset Network Settings on Mac

Wi-Fi and internet connection problems can be extremely frustrating. Whether you need your connection for work, watching movies, playing games, or just surfing the internet, it can make you feel disconnected from your digital world.

While there are some quick fixes, such as rebooting your machine and restarting your modem/router, this issue can sometimes require resetting your Mac’s network settings by deleting the files that contain those settings so they can regenerate on startup.

My name is Eric, and as a software engineer who works from home, I depend on my network connection daily. Without it, I feel helpless. Thankfully, I know how to reset my network settings, which usually solves this problem, and I can show you how to do this as well.

Keep reading below if you would like to see how to reset your network connections. After discussing some quick fixes that you might want to try, I will cover how you can fully reset the settings from your desktop or Mac Terminal.

Try These Quick Fixes First

I know that network issues can be frustrating, and you want to get them resolved quickly, but before you just go and start resetting your network settings, there are some quick fixes that you should try first. 

Most of these are even faster than resetting your network settings, and if they work, they will require little or no changes to your system. In any case, they are worth trying if you haven’t already done so.

If you have already tried the simple solutions below or are just ready to reset your network settings for whatever reason, you can skip to the next sections: Reset from Desktop Using Finder or Reset from Mac Terminal.

Reboot your System

Rebooting may seem too simple, but you will be surprised at the number of issues that a basic system reboot can solve. Our system often gets cluttered with processes and applications running, and data can often get corrupted. 

A reboot can clear and reset your memory, cache, and other things that may be affecting the basic operations of your Mac. Plus, it’s so easy and simple to do. I recommend a full shutdown and starting back up for the best results.

Just click on the Apple symbol in the top left corner of your computer. Click on Shutdown, let the system shut all the way down, wait a few seconds after you see the power is off, and then hit the power button to start back up.

Once your system is back up and running, check out your network and see if that makes a difference.

Restart your Modem/Router

Routers and Modems can have the same issue. Corrupt data and processes are running. Restart your router/modem, or if you have both, you can restart each of them. Wait for everything to come back up and reconnect your Mac to see if this helps your problem.

Check your Internet Service

Often, it’s your ISP that is at fault. The service may be down for whatever reason, and without it, you can’t get connected to the internet, or it is very slow. The easiest way to check this is to try another computer on the network.

If another computer has the same issues, there is a chance your service is down. If you don’t have another computer, you can always connect your phone or iPad and see if they work on the network. You can also check with your ISP to see if your area has known outages.


Resetting SMC and PRAM/NVRAM is a longtime solution to many Mac problems. I won’t go into details about what they are here, but both of them hold data related to your system, and over time, this data can get cluttered or corrupted. Clearing these can often solve issues like network problems.

If you have a newer Mac with Apple silicon (an M series processor), this data is automatically reset when you do a complete shutdown and startup of your system as described above. 

You must manually reset the SMC and NVRAM if you have an older system with an Intel-based processor. To reset SMC, shut your computer down, then start it back up while holding the Control, Shift, and Options keys until you hear the chime. Your SMC will then be reset.

To reset NVRAM/PRAM, shut the computer down. When starting it back up, hold down the Command, Option, P, and R keys for at least 20 seconds or until you hear the chime. When the startup completes, your NVRAM will now be reset.

Once your Mac starts back up, check if your network issues have been resolved. If so, then your problem is solved.

macOS Update

Does your Mac need a macOS update? If you are not up to date, it could be affecting the operation of your computer, and this could include problems with your Network. It is important to stay updated with the latest macOS. Otherwise, you may miss important fixes.

You may have seen notifications that you need to do an update. If so, click on the prompt, and it will take you to install the update. If you have not seen any notifications, you can check for them by clicking on the Apple menu and looking for notifications beside System Settings.

Click on System Settings, and you can perform the update by clicking on Software Update Available and then Update Now.

Once the update has been completed, restart your system and see if the issue has been resolved.

Disconnect From Networks

You can reset your network settings by disconnecting or deleting the existing network connections. This will not totally clear everything, but it can sometimes be enough to fix your connection. Use the following steps to disconnect and delete existing connections.

Before you start, make sure you know your network password. You will need it to reconnect to the network.

Step 1: Open System Settings

Click on the Apple menu in the upper left corner of your screen and then select System Settings.

Step 2: Click on Network in the left side pane of System Settings.

Step 3: Disconnect Network

Find your network in the known list of networks, then click on the icon on the far right side, as shown below, and select Forget This Network.

Step 4: Reconnect to the Network

Locate your network in the list of Other Networks and then click on the Connect button, as shown below.

You will need to enter your Wi-Fi password to connect. Once connected, you can check to see if you still have issues.

Reset From Desktop Using Finder

If you want to completely reset your network settings, the best way is to delete all plist files related to network functionality. This will completely remove any existing network settings, and fresh new ones will be generated when your Mac restarts.

This can be a great way to solve many network problems because the plist files that hold your network settings can often get stale or corrupted. Regenerating them lets you start them new from scratch, eliminating unused and unwanted data that can cause problems.

Once you do this, you will need to reconnect to your networks again, so make sure you know the network password before starting. Otherwise, you may have trouble getting back on again once the process is completed. 

You will also need to know your admin password to do this. This should be the password you use to log in to your system. You will be prompted for it when you go to delete the files. You can reset your network settings using Finder with the following steps.

Step 1: Turn off your Wi-Fi.

Click on the Wi-Fi symbol in the upper right portion of your screen. On the Wi-Fi menu, click on the switch to turn it off.

Step 2: Use Finder to Navigate to /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration

Start Finder, click on the Go menu, and then select Go to Folder.

In the Go to Folder window, enter the following path and click on the selection to go to it.


Step 3: Backup the network files

We will first make a backup of the plist files we will delete in the next step. That way, we will have a copy of them if anything goes wrong. To make the backup, find the following files in the current folder in Finder and drag them to your desktop. This will create a backup copy right on the desktop where you can easily find them.

  • or
  • NetworkInterfaces.plist
  • Preferences.plist

Once completed, you should see a copy of these files on your desktop.

Step 4: Delete the network Files

Now that you have a backup of the network files, you need to delete them to regenerate them. You can select each one and move it to the trash or select all of them at once and move them to the trash by right-clicking on them and selecting move to trash.

You will be prompted for your password to move the files to the Trash. Enter the password you use to log in to your computer.

Step 5: Reboot your system

Once you have removed the network plist files to the trash, as shown in the previous step, you must reboot your computer. When your computer starts back up, it will automatically regenerate fresh new versions of the files that you deleted.

Step 6: Turn the Wi-Fi back on.

You can now turn your Wi-Fi back on using the same method you used to turn it off. Click on the Wi-Fi symbol at the top right side of your desktop and click the switch to turn it on. You may need to select the Wi-Fi network and enter its password.

Step 7: Remove backup files.

Once you see everything is working, you can delete the backup files from your desktop. Just drag them from the desktop to the trash. 

Reset From Mac Terminal

If you’re a Mac Terminal user and prefer to do things like this from the command line, I understand because I also enjoy using the command line and often prefer doing tasks like this using Mac Terminal.

A word of caution before we start. Mac Terminal is a powerful tool, and it is important to type or copy commands properly to ensure you don’t accidentally remove files that should not be removed. Make sure you follow each step as directed, and if you are uncomfortable with this method, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using the Finder method shown above.

Use the following steps to reset network settings from your Mac Terminal.

Step 1: Turn off Wi-Fi

Turn off Wi-Fi by clicking on the Wi-Fi symbol on the upper right side of your desktop and clicking on the switch to turn it off.

Step 2: Open Mac Terminal.

Open the Mac Terminal using your preferred method.

Step 3: Navigate to the SystemConfiguration folder

From the command line in Mac Terminal, navigate to the following directory.

cd /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration

Step 4: Move the plist files

Here we will move the plist files to backup copies. This will serve two purposes. It will create backups of the files and remove them since it will move them to the new name with the .bak extension. Run the mv commands as shown below.

  • sudo mv
  • sudo mv
  • sudo mv
  • sudo mv
  • sudo mv NetworkInterfaces.plist NetworkInterfaces.plist.bak
  • sudo mv Preferences.plist NetworkInterfaces.plist.bak

You will need to enter your password when running the first sudo command. Enter the password you use to log in to your computer.

Note: Some of these files may not exist; if they do not, the command will return an error saying that the file does not exist. If this happens, moving on to the next file is okay.

Step 5: Reboot your system

Restart your system, and your Mac will automatically regenerate the plist files you just moved.

Step 6: Turn the Wi-Fi back on.

You can now turn your Wi-Fi back on using the same method you used to turn it off. Click on the Wi-Fi symbol at the top right side of your desktop and click the switch to turn it on. You may need to select the Wi-Fi network and enter its password.

Try out your network connection and see if you are still having issues. If you are not, you can go back to the SystemConfiguration directory and remove the .bak files if you would like, but it is not required. It will not do any harm to leave them there.


Resetting your network settings is often a good way to resolve network problems. It’s always good to try simple solutions first, but resetting by removing the associated plist files, as shown above, is not too complicated and can be done fairly quickly.

I hope the above information has helped you to get your network running smoothly. 

Let me know if you have any questions. I would love to hear from you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *