Fixing Wi-Fi on macOS when you can't turn it on

Mac, Guide

September 06, 2021

I was unable to turn on my Wi-Fi on macOS, the buttons in the menu bar and system preferences did nothing. In this post, I go over how I fixed it.

When I opened network preferences, the window looked like this:

Network preferences screenshot

Pressing the “turn Wi-Fi on” button did absolutely nothing.

The solution that worked for me was:

  1. Remove /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/, or at the very least the files NetworkInterfaces.plist,, and You need root/admin privileges.
  2. Shut down your computer.
  3. Reset the SMC: on a computer with a non-removable battery, connect the charger, hold down shift+control+alt+power button, then let them go at the same time. The charger will change colors for about 1-2 seconds.
  4. Reset the PRAM. Press the power button, then immediately hold down command+alt+P+R, and keep holding them until the screen goes black and you hear the startup chime.
  5. Continue booting normally. Wi-Fi should work now.

Your mileage may vary.

(Update: in the end, this still works as a temporary fix, but for me it turned out to be a hardware issue. Replacing the Wi-Fi cable fixed it permanently.)