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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength Network
Whenever I visit a cafe, library, or other public place with my laptop, I like to check my AirPort Status in my Mac's menu bar to see what wireless networks are available. But sometimes, if I find myself in a particularly busy place full of 'hotspots,' I would like to be able to view the list of networks sorted by signal strength.

Well, OS X allows you to do just that! First, though, you need to have the AirPort Status menu show up in your menu bar. This is done by going to the Network preferences in System Preferences. In the Network Status drop-down menu, select AirPort. Click on the AirPort tab, then at the bottom, click on the checkbox labeled 'Show AirPort status in menu bar' to enable it. A pie slice-looking icon will then show up in the menu bar.

When you want to see all the wireless networks available to you sorted by signal strength, simply hold down the Option key and click on the AirPort icon on the menu bar. The networks will then be sorted by signal strength, from strongest to weakest.

[robg adds: This definitely seems to work, and in both 10.3 and 10.4 (I tested both). I have two wireless networks visible from my home, and pressing the Option key puts the stronger signal at the top of the list.]
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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength
Authored by: Zoltak on Dec 02, '05 07:54:58AM

Very usefull tip that I didn't know.
I guess I should start trying to hold down some of the keys while clicking to see if what I am looking for changes, since it happens so much in other places anyway.



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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength
Authored by: fbitterlich on Dec 02, '05 08:30:09AM

The option key enables another feature in that menu, too: There is an "About Airport" menu item if you hold down the option key before opening the menu. Selecting it gets you a window with version information of your Airport components.



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and access to AirPort Admin & Setup utility
Authored by: rameeti on Dec 02, '05 08:46:11AM

... which also gives the user direct access to AirPort Admin & Setup applications.



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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength
Authored by: Dephex Twin on Dec 02, '05 04:17:55PM

I don't understand. I am in an apartment, and there is a nearby wireless network, but the other one always appears above my network in the list when I hold down option. The other network's signal is very clearly weaker than my own. I get a full signal on my network, while I get less than half on the other one.

I'm running the latest version of Tiger also.

---
"Knicks suck, Yankees suck, Mets suck..."
"...Krypton sucks"



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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength
Authored by: genericuser on Dec 03, '05 04:15:32AM

yup same thing here too



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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength
Authored by: brachiator on Dec 03, '05 04:47:46PM

Me three. Althougth the "About Airport" menu option does show up as advertised.



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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength
Authored by: sjk on Dec 03, '05 08:03:08PM

A neighbor's SSID (that dang "linksys" that's always there even when I lose signal to my own router!) is always sorted first here, too, even when I'm a meter away from my WRT54G downstairs or AirPort Express upstairs . I've got an older 802.11b AirPort card in this iBook G3, if that matters. Component versions listed in the About AirPort box:

AirPort Menu Extra: 421.8.0
AirPort Framework: 421.13.0
AirPort Driver: 344.2.0
AirPort Admin Utility: 420.31.0
AirPort Setup Assistant: 420.17.0

Cool option-key hint anyway, thanks!



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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength
Authored by: beaton on Dec 04, '05 08:56:16AM

shift-option appears to sort by some other criteria. I've named my network with an underscore at the beginning which makes mine always show up first in the list by default, and it is the strongest signal so an option-click gives the same result. When I shift-option click it appears third.



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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength
Authored by: sjk on Dec 04, '05 04:05:00PM

Yeah, shift-option-click seems to do something different... and still unpredictable here.



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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength
Authored by: tofergregg on Dec 03, '05 05:12:50PM

Good hint, although there's a bug for me: if I opt-click, I get my strongest signal first, but then when I click on it, it asks for my WEP key, which I already have saved in my keychain. When I normally click on that router, it connects (with the saved WEP key) just fine. I tried re-saving it in my keychain, but it still requires me to type it in.

-Chris



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Command-click?
Authored by: scphysics on Dec 04, '05 06:04:26PM

Does anyone know what command-click does? It seems to refresh the list of networks, but I may be wrong. If I'm right, this might be useful...



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Command-click?
Authored by: feyd on Dec 04, '05 11:25:06PM

CMD clicking anything in the menu bar simply allows you to pick it up and change its placement on the bar. Also you can drag it off to "poof" it like the Dock



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Sort wireless networks based on signal strength
Authored by: gunnmjk on Dec 05, '05 05:15:30AM

If you activate the menu this way, Aiport will ask you for the 64bit hex keys for servers that use WPA Password Security.



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Reminder: Changes to the meaning of the Airport status menu bar...
Authored by: alienfetis on Dec 13, '05 12:30:47AM

In 10.4, Apple has changed the meaning of the "Signal Strength" airport menu bar item. The AirPort menu extra now reflects transmission rate, not signal strength. The same is true for Internet Connect.

If you're using an 802.11g network, such as AirPort Extreme, the AirPort menu extra's signal bars now indicate these transmission rates:

4 bars - 36 Mbits/s or higher
3 bars - 12 Mbits/s or higher
2 bars - 5 Mbits/s or higher
1 bar - 1 Mbit/s or higher

If you're using an 802.11b network, such as AirPort models prior to Extreme, the AirPort menu extra's signal bars now indicate these transmission rates:

4 bars - 11 Mbits/s or higher
3 bars - 5.5 Mbits/s or higher
2 bars - 2 Mbits/s or higher
1 bar - 1 Mbit/s or higher



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