Select Wi-Fi network when activating Mac Error
Select Wi-Fi network when activating Mac Error

When activating a new Mac, encountering the “Select a Wi-Fi network” issue, where the Wi-Fi network list remains empty, can be frustrating. However, this is a common problem with a range of potential solutions.

Understanding the Issue

The “Select a Wi-Fi network” prompt is essential for your Mac’s activation, as it requires an internet connection for various setup processes. If the network list is empty, your Mac can’t connect to the internet, hindering the activation.


The issue might stem from:

  • Hardware Issues: A faulty Wi-Fi antenna or adapter can prevent detection of networks.
  • Software Issues: Outdated or corrupted software might interfere with connectivity.
  • Network Issues: Problems like weak signals or incorrect router settings can affect connectivity.

Troubleshooting Steps

  1. Restart Your Mac: This can renew the internet address assigned to your Mac when joining the Wi-Fi network, potentially resolving connection issues​​.
  2. Check Date and Time: Incorrect date and time settings can interfere with network connections. Ensure they’re set correctly​​​​.
  3. Check VPN or Security Software: If you’ve installed VPN or security software that interacts with network connections, it could be affecting access to the internet​​.
  4. Diagnostic Tools: Use built-in diagnostic tools like Wi-Fi Recommendations and Wireless Diagnostics to identify and resolve issues​​​​.
  5. Update macOS and Wi-Fi Router Firmware: If possible, update your macOS and the firmware of your Wi-Fi router​​​​.
  6. Try Different Networks or Contact ISP: If the issue persists, try connecting to a different network or check with your internet provider​​.
  7. Remove Multiple Network Entries: Duplicate network entries can cause conflicts. Remove any extra network entries from your Mac’s settings​​.
  8. Set Service Order in Network Settings: Prioritize your network connections by setting the service order in your Mac’s Network settings​​.
  9. Forget and Reconnect to Wi-Fi: Sometimes, forgetting the Wi-Fi network and reconnecting can solve connectivity issues​​.
  10. Change DNS Settings or Renew DHCP Lease: Changing your DNS settings or renewing the DHCP lease can help if your Mac connects to Wi-Fi but doesn’t load web pages​​.
  11. Reset Network Preferences: If all else fails, reset your Mac’s network preferences by deleting specific plist files in the SystemConfiguration folder​​.

Additional Solutions

  • Turn off Bluetooth: Sometimes, turning off Bluetooth can help resolve Wi-Fi connectivity issues.
  • Disable Internet Sharing: Make sure that Internet Sharing is disabled in System Preferences.
  • Remove Connected Accessories: Disconnect any external dongles or wireless peripherals that might be causing interference.
  • Run Apple Diagnostics: This can identify serious issues related to Wi-Fi hardware.
  • Boot in Safe Mode: Starting your Mac in Safe Mode can help determine if the problem is software-related​​.


The “Select a Wi-Fi network” issue during Mac activation is often solvable through a series of troubleshooting steps. By understanding potential causes and systematically applying these solutions, you can resolve the issue and complete the activation process. If problems persist, seeking professional assistance may be necessary. Remember, keeping your Mac’s software updated and handling the device carefully are key to minimizing network-related issues.

Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

Shoot me a message at if you want to see a topic discussed or have a correction on something I’ve written.

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