How To Change The Network Adapter Priority In Windows 7
For a while after I got my Windows 7 computer I had no idea why it preferred to keep connected to my home wireless network over the wired network but that seems to be the default setting that Microsoft uses. Finally after scouring the interwebs I found the answer – it is very much the same as doing this in Vista so if you know how to do that you can probably stop reading. The problem with the wireless connection being preferred vs the wired connection for me is that the wired is a faster than wireless. As well, for me when I hit the “Turn off wireless connection” quick key on my laptop it turns off Bluetooth as well which is often annoying. Today, I thought I’d share with you the solution for telling your computer which network connection it should prefer.
Two things I thought I’d mention before we begin:
- To be clear, for this post I am using Windows 7 Home Premium with Service Pack 1 installed and all images and screen caps come from that version.
- All images can be clicked on to be full sized. They are downsized only so they can fit in the constraints of my WordPress blog’s theme.
First things first. You got to get to the network settings! Go to the Start Menu and click on “Control Panel” on the right hand side.
For the purposes of this post I am going to assume things are set to default settings so your Control Panel should be organized by ‘category.’ Now that you are in Control Panel you will see a number of different categories for setting on your computer as shown in the screen cap below. You are going to be looking for – as highlighted below – the “Network and Internet” category and click the line which reads “View network status and tasks.”
Once you click there you will be brought to the “Network and Sharing Center” which will look something like the image below. Notice how I am connected to two different connections at once for the internet and the basic network information says from my computer to the internet there are “multiple networks.” But none of that really matters right now because we are quickly going to be moving out of this screen. On your left hand side of the screen you’ll see the option (highlighted in red in the picture below) to “Change adapter settings.”
Once you have clicked the option to “Change adapter settings” you will be brought to another screen. Now, you may have noticed in Windows 7 that since Windows XP Microsoft has decided to do away with by default showing the familiar “File, Edit, Options, Help” Toolbar (aka the Menu Toolbar). As such, in order to get it to show anywhere in Windows what you need to do is hit the ALT button. Once you have revealed the Menu Toolbar* which is highlighted below in red click “Advanced” and then in the sub-menu that is shown go to to “Advanced Settings” also highlighted in red in the screen cap.
*There is a way to lock the Menu Toolbar there but we’ll deal with that another time.
Now you are in the Advanced Settings and you are almost done! The Advanced Settings screen as shown below has, like other screen caps I have shown, only been altered to include red highlighting boxes. You will see in the window two tabs but don’t worry, we are staying in the first one. Below that, you will see the instructions “Connections are listed in the order in which they are accessed by network services.” As you can see in my screenshot, my Wireless Network Connections are first in the list. This is why, until now, my computer was accessing wireless as the primary connection even when it was connected to a wired connection – here called Local Area Connection.
To the right of the “Connections” box you will see two arrows. Highlight the connection you would like to reorder (in this case Local Area Connection) and it will indicate to you where you can move it in the list. If the arrows are both green it means you can move the connection either up or down in the list, if one is grayed out it means you can’t move the connection in that direction in the list. As you can see, my Local Area Connection is at the bottom of the list so the down arrow is grayed out whereas the up arrow is green. All you have to do to move it to the top of the list is make sure you have the connection highlighted and click the arrow until you get the connection to the position you want. Then, click the “OK” button at the bottom and you’re done!