I have a question re use of Network Location & Preferred Networks. I found two similar Q&A here: Q&A one, and Q&A two. Q&A one was posted 5 years ago, and closed 8 days ago because "the question already has an answer". That answer was Q&A two. However, that answer is now 8 years old, and refers to a 3rd party software app that doesn't seem to be available any longer. Furthermore, the OP for Q&A one stated he didn't want a 3rd party tool.

I'm not sure why Q&A one was closed only 8 days ago, but that's not why I'm posting this question. I'm posting this question because my question is very similar to Q&A one, and the answer that was provided does not seem to work at all.

I could phrase my question to be somewhat different from Q&A one, but before I invest time into formulating a new question, I'd like to get some feedback from those here about how to go about that. Also, @bmike recommended I ask here.

The answer to Q&A one seems logical enough, but when I follow the steps, I do not get the results I expected. The issue seems to be that there is one, and only one, Preferred Networks list. It doesn't seem to matter that a WiFi is re-named, or what Location is used - the choices in Preferred Networks are always the same. Perhaps it's all my confusion, but in any event I need some help to figure it out. Or perhaps there's just no way to do what I want to do, and in that case, an answer to that effect would certainly save me time and effort.

What I want to do is easily described: I want two Locations: HOME and AWAY. When I choose the HOME location, I only want to connect to one network: the WiFi I've set up. When I choose the AWAY location, I'd like for it to work much like Automatic does now, except I'd like to move my VPN to the "top" location. My primary OS in Catalina - 10.15.4 as of today, and the hardware is 2019.

Hope that's all clear; I'll look forward to your feedback.

1 Answer 1


The answer below is intended to provide, as you asked for, guidance on how to go about getting an answer to your question/problem. It's scope goes beyond the stated question itself and hopefully helps you. Nothing below is written with any ill intent; only constructive feedback. Here goes..


It's very difficult to follow the progression of the question. Probably, the largest issue is the over complexity in which you've presented it. The top half could have been condensed down to the third paragraph and you wouldn't have lost any of the gist of the question itself.

Diverting the readers attention

"5 years ago, no 3rd party apps, closed 8 days ago" are all points that have confused me as to how it relates. Unix is 50(ish) old and we still do things like it was done back then so "age" isn't really relevant if it is (one of) the correct solution(s). What makes this more difficult to follow is the use of links that draws the reader away from where you want to go.

Consider this...you walk up to someone to ask a question but in the middle of it, you throw a "grenade" off to the side, then another in another direction. It pulls their attention away from what's important, which, at the moment is your question. That's what happens with the Q&A one and Q&A two links. "Bullets" are much more effective here (see what I did there?):

Without a lot "dialog" and without even visiting those links, I can already have a clearer picture of where you're going.

What makes a good question

A clear, simple to follow description of what you want, what you tried and what the result was. A lot of questions go unanswered because halfway through, the reader simply gives up. Speaking from personal experience, I've only been able to answer them because I have so many years experience under my belt I was able to deduce what they're looking for. On the other side of that coin, I've gotten half way through, clicked on their YouTube link and never came back.

A well written question attracts more readers and increases the chance of getting an answer!

Let's rework your question.

This is just one way to approach this...

I need to set up two different networking configurations, one for when I'm home and another for when I'm away. I believe this is done with "Locations" but I'm not sure how to do this because in my "home" config, I just want to see and connect to one network and in my "away" config, I'd like it to work how it does with "Automatic" - it sees all the networks and I can connect to any of them.

I can't seem to set up a "Preferred Networks" for each location because it remains the same no matter what changes. Also, I'd like my VPN connection to remain on-top of the list for easy access.

I've attempted the solutions in the following questions:

Neither answer works because the first has reasons and the second has other reasons plus it references an app that's no longer available. It's basically potato.

  • macOS 10.15.x (Catalina)
  • MacBook Pro Something-or-other

How would I go about doing this? I prefer to do this without 3rd party apps if possible.

That question would get a lot more attention because it's succinct. It may even get closed as a dupe, but IMO, it gives an opportunity for someone to clear up your misunderstanding of how locations work, what preferred networks are, etc.

Someone can add more perspective to the concept, link back to the original questions thereby expanding the scope considerably.

You have a good question, it's just buried too deep.

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