Tell AirPort to Use a Specific Network

In my house, I am using a router that has allows me to setup a 802.11b and 802.11n network. It replaced a router that only supported 802.11G. Some of the devices on my network only support the slower network connect. However, my Macbook can use both the faster and the slower connections.

Now, the problem I run into is that the slower network connection is the one that my Airport picks first. What I need to do is figure out a way to force OS X to pick a specific network. I scratched my head on this for a few weeks but it turns out it’s really easy to do.

What you need to do is tell the AirPort interface what your preferred network is. This is done through the System Preferences.

This video should show you how to do it:

Prioritise Airport Networks in Mac OS X from Simon Thomson on Vimeo.

The first step is to open the Advanced AirPort preferences

  1. Open your System Preferences
  2. Select your Network preference
  3. Choose Airport
  4. Click the Advanced button

Then, you are presented with a list of networks. Basically, the list is all the networks you’ve ever connected to. Actually, now might be a good time to prune some of these.

Next, select your preferred network and drag it to the top of the list.

Close the preferences and now, when you need to connect to a network, it will choose your preferred one first.

Secret to Blocking Porn on OS X

OS X includes Parental Control software and it’s a great way to filter out unwanted content on your family computer. However, sometimes this program causes problems with other applications. We used it for a while and noticed that we couldn’t use the iTunes Music Store or Gmail. In order to use these other applications we had to disable Parental Control.

Searching the Internet for an answer, we found another way to filter out porn and other offensive material on the Mac that is completely free. OpenDNS. If you want to learn how to do use OpenDNS, read on.

If you want more control then OpenDNS offers, check out NetNanny.
What is DNS?

DNS is a service that translates the a websites name (i.e., www.learningosx.com) to it’s IP address (192.168.1.100). When your computer is connected to your ISP, it sets it’s own DNS server. However, you can override this setting, change it to OpenDNS and in addition to having fast DNS lookups, you can add parental filters.

The filtering works by comparing the website address you are trying to go to to a “blacklist” of sites you want blocked. Any that are found in the blacklist are denied.

What’s really cool about this service is the basic features are totally free. You only need to have some comfort in adjusting your internet settings. The steps below will show you how.

Before you can use the free Internet Porn filter, you need to first sign-up at OpenDNS. Go to OpenDNS.com and create an account now and come on back here when you are done.

Open the System Preferences


Click on Network

Select the network connection marked Connected. It’s likely the first one.

Click the Advanced button

Select the DNS tab


Add 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220 to the list of DNS servers.

Click OK

Then, the next step is to go back to the OpenDNS site and setup your filters. Go to the OpenDNS dashboard, signing in again if you have to.

On the top of the Dashboard you should see a Settings tab. Click it. It will take you to the Settings page.

You should then see a Web Content Filtering dialog that lets you adjust the filtering you want for your machine. I leave mine set to Moderate. Change yours and click Apply. Don’t worry, if you need to you can change it again.

At this point you are done. It usually takes a couple of minutes for the filters to kick in. You can test your configuration by going to Google and typing search terms that you think will return inappropriate results. I’ll leave the specifics as an exercise to the reader.

Special Note for Mac Book users. If you carry your laptop around and are often on other networks, you will need to run a utility that tells the OpenDNS website about your web address. You can read how to do this here.

Remove Previous Recipients from Mail.app

Mail.app OS X Mail ClientMail.app sometimes is a little too smart, especially when it comes to completing addresses as you type them in the address fields.

When you send an email to someone Mail.app stores it in a list called Previous Recipients. Then, each time you send an email, the software tries to guess who you want to send an email to as you type it in. This generally works well. If, however, you have old email addresses that you know longer use, it will sometimes show up first in the completion field. This adds a few extra keystrokes to finding the right recipient, slowing you down.

It is however possible to clean up this list. This is one of those tips that is super easy but bugged me for sometime until I found it.

  • Open Mail.app
  • Choose Window -> Previous Recipients.

Inside this window you can do a number of things including:

  • Adding a recipient to your address book
  • Removing them from the list

Your turn!
Do you have any cool Mail.app tips or tricks? Tell us about it in the comments! If you include your Twitter handle, I’ll follow you back.