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Archived - Using network locations in OS X v10.5 or earlier

The Location menu in Network preferences allows you to save and quickly switch between multiple Internet configurations. This article applies to 10.5 or earlier; for 10.6 or later, please see Using network locations in OS X v10.6 or later.

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

What is a "location?"

A "location" is a set of network preferences.

Network preferences has a Location menu that you can use for changing or creating locations. Users of portable computers frequently connect to the Internet or networks in different ways in different places, so "location" reminds you that Mac OS X has the ability to store different sets of network preferences, which you may name for the location in which you use them.

The "Automatic" location

By default, Mac OS X has one location named Automatic, and all available ports are set to active status. A port (or "network interface") may be a modem, Ethernet, AirPort card, or other device used to connect to the Internet. The name Automatic is to remind you that Mac OS X automatically searches all active network ports for your connection to the Internet. For example: You use a dial-up account at home but have Ethernet at work. If you set up both of these ports then travel between work and home, Mac OS X automatically detects which port is connected to the Internet.

Adjusting port priority

Mac OS X searches the ports in the order that they are listed in the Port Configurations list in the Network Port Configurations pane. You can drag a port configuration up or down the list to change its priority.

To access the Port Configurations list:

  1. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  2. Choose Network from the View menu.
  3. Choose Network Port Configurations from the Show menu (see Note).

Note:

The names of these preference items have changed over time. In Mac OS X versions 10.0 to 10.0.4, the Show menu is named "Configure," and the Network Port Configurations pane was named "Advanced." In Mac OS X 10.1 to 10.1.5, the Network Port Configurations pane was named "Active Network Ports."

Making new locations

However, you can create different "locations" in which different ports are active. A "Mobile" location could make only your AirPort card active, and a "Desk" location could make only your Ethernet port active.

 Follow these steps to make a new location: 

  1. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  2. Choose Network from the View menu.
  3. Choose New Location from the Location menu.
  4. Type a name for your new location, such as Mobile, then click OK. The name of your new location appears in the Location menu. Any changes you make to the Network pane now apply to this location. The previous location ("Automatic" by default) will remain as you left it.
  5. Choose Network Port Configurations from the Show menu to select the ports that should be active at this location. In Mac OS X versions 10.0 to 10.0.4, the Show menu is named "Configure." The Network Port Configurations pane (Mac OS X 10.2 or later) was named "Active Network Ports" in Mac OS X 10.1 to 10.1.5. In Mac OS X 10.0 to 10.0.4, this pane is named "Advanced."
  6. Use the Show menu to select the port(s) you made active, then set them up as desired. Each port is set up as its own Internet connection. If you need any help setting up for the Internet, see these technical documents.

    "Mac OS X: How to Connect to the Internet via Cable, DSL, or Local Area Network (LAN)"
    "Mac OS X: How to Connect to the Internet With PPPoE"
     "Mac OS X: How to Connect to the Internet via PPP (Dial-Up Access)"
  7. When finished, click Apply Now.
  8. Quit System Preferences.

Switching between locations

Once you have created locations, you may quickly switch between them by using the Location submenu of the Apple menu. Or you can change the Location menu in the Network pane of System Preferences and then clicking Apply Now.

Setting up the same interface for two networks

The default Automatic location does not accommodate having two configurations for using the same network interface in two different locations. For example, if you used your Ethernet port configured manually at work but via DHCP at home, the Automatic location will not let you avoid switching locations in its default state -- you would need to switch locations. You can avoid switching locations by adding a new port configuration to your preferred location. Depending on your network topology, you may only be able to use AppleTalk on one network interface at a time.

Last Modified: Jun 11, 2012
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  • Last Modified: Jun 11, 2012
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