How to disable macOS’s hotspot login float-over window


Alfabeck Lauder discovers the way wherein Apple manages wireless logins at public networks a bit maddening:

When I’m travelling, I frequently gain access to the Internet on my Mac via public Wi-Fi networks. Before I can connect, I’m invariably confronted with a window, (“magic window”) giving me instructions and the means for connecting/disconnecting to/from the Internet and monitoring my usage. What on earth are these?

Lauder dislikes those home windows because they flow above everything else, can’t be resized, and don’t appear to be attached to any app. Lauder lives in a faraway place and makes use of an aggregate of a mobile hotspot and wireless router, so he sees this magic window (I just like the term) all of the time, and it interferes together with his capability to control his setup.

Among other things:

If I inadvertently leave a magic window open when putting my computer to sleep, the system sometimes freezes when waking, necessitating a restart.

Lauder is hitting a feature Apple added to make it easier to log in at Wi-Fi hotspots that use a so-called “captive portal” page with which you have to interact before you gain access to the network. iOS has a similar feature, presented in the same overlay manner, no matter what you’re doing.

Captive portals have to let a computer or mobile device connect to the Wi-Fi network, but intercept all that traffic until it’s been given approval. These portals fake the domain name system (DNS) lookup values for any network connection made, including in a browser, which lets them display a login page. (These portals also typically use the unique network identifier—the MAC address—built into all Wi-Fi and ethernet hardware, to prevent a bypass without approval.)


Gaining approval is now and again as easy as clicking an I Agree on a button or entering an email (even a fake one) and checking a box that says you compromise to network use rules. different instances, you have to enter account facts or pay for getting entry to, as in an inn or conference center. software like that from Boingo wi-fi that ties you into paid networks can pass all this via sending credentials and automatically become a member of a preferred network.

This captive portal display screen floats on top of the whole thing else as a layout choice to help people figure out that they don’t truly have the community get entry to. due to the fact you can’t reach the internet, every network interest you have interaction in or that your system handles in the historical past breaks. so you can see the thinking at the back of this.

How does Apple know you’re connected to a captive hotspot? This is what’s tripping Lauder up. In iOS and on the Mac, whenever you connect to any Wi-Fi network, the operating system tries to perform a DNS lookup for the address and then check in with an Apple server. If the returned address isn’t correct or the connection to a test page doesn’t go through but it gets some response, it means you’re connected to a portal. Apple then displays the page return in Lauder’s “magic window.” (Once Apple had trouble with its DNS, which prompted the hotspot login screen to appear on everyone’s attempt to connect to a network everywhere.)

In years past, you can regulate machine settings values or even use defaults write command, but those appear to have stopped operating with El Capitan. fortuitously, there’s a simple answer. the perfect way to disable this behavior is to rename the helper app that creates the login web page.

because of machine Integrity protection (SIP), a characteristic introduced in El Capitan to guard gadget documents against change via malware, you can’t simply circulate the record if you have that characteristic enabled (it’s on by using default). observe our instructions to restart your Mac in recovery mode and disable SIP. Restart and follow the steps underneath. Then restart once more to re-allow SIP. (The commands are for El Capitan, however, work identically for Sierra.)

  1. In the Finder, select Go > Go To Folder.
  2. Enter /System/Library/CoreServices and hit return.
  3. Find Captive Network Assistant, click it, and rename it with an extra word, like Captive Network Assistant Do Not Launch and press return.
  4. Enter your password when prompted to make the change.

Now, when you connect to any portal-protected hotspot or even Lauder’s home network setup, the app shouldn’t launch and you should be able to proceed in bliss.

Because macOS can be self-repairing and install missing components during updates, you may have to repeat these steps in the future if it recurs. This approach should work in Mac OS X 10.8 to 10.11 and macOS Sierra.


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