Long before routers were the default way to connect to the internet, when we had dial-up modems that were louder than car alarms, and wireless connectivity just wasn’t something your system had because it was a tower PC, we had the choice to select which connection, of those available, Windows should connect with. I can still remember the havoc I caused because I didn’t know what it was for and played around with it more than anyone would normally need to. Today, WiFi is the preferred way to connect to the internet simply because there are no restraining wires involved and it’s super easy. That said, laptops still come with Ethernet ports and they are still used to connect to the internet sometimes being preferred over WiFi. It’s common enough to see people connected to an Ethernet network when at their desk but still preferring to keep the WiFi switch on so that they don’t lose internet connectivity when they have to step away. If you’re in a similar situation, here is how you can tell Windows 10 to always connect to the internet over the Ethernet network when it’s available and only switch to a WiFi network when the cable is disconnected.
This will work in Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. Go to Control Panel and click on Change adapter settings on the left.
You will see the following screen with all networks, WiFi and Ethernet, listed. Hit the Alt key to view all menus available for this window. Click the Advanced menu and select ‘Advanced Settings…’
In the Advanced Settings window, you will see the types of connections listed in the Connections section. Select a type, in this case select Ethernet, and use the arrows at the right to re-order it so that Ethernet appears at the top. Click ok. Windows will now prefer the Ethernet network over the Wi-Fi network for connecting to the internet.
You can always change the order of the connection types if you no longer want to give the Ethernet preference over WiFi. This change won’t exactly let you go from Ethernet network to Wi-Fi without disconnecting but it does mean you won’t have to turn your WiFi switch on or off to connect over the Ethernet network when the Wi-Fi switch is on as well.