By Jason Snell
August 11, 2022 4:19 PM PT
Network Locations is a feature of macOS that, ever since version 10.0, has allowed users to switch between different sets of network configuration preferences in different environments and situations. It’s not visible in the redesigned System Preferences app of macOS Ventura—and Tyler Loch discovered that the disappearance is not an accident. Loch’s Feedback submission to Apple has been marked as “works as currently designed.”
Length of service in macOS is not reason enough to keep any feature around, but I’ve heard from several people who say they still use this feature and are upset that it’s seemingly been terminated. It’s useful in business situations where different networks have different properties. One colleague of mine says he uses the feature to debug network problems without messing up existing settings and to connect to specific devices when visiting a relative’s house.
If Apple’s truly done with this feature, it seems ripe for a third-party developer to jump in with a replacement.1
This story jogged my memory of Mac utilities past. Way back when, two apps filled a similar role: MarcoPolo and ControlPlane (itself a fork of MarcoPolo). Both apps did Network Locations one better by automatically switching all sorts of settings, and doing it based on triggers such as changes in the network, mounted disks, discovered Bluetooth devices, and more.
Unfortunately, MarcoPolo was abandoned more than a decade ago, and ControlPlane hasn’t seen much action in a few years, with maintainer Dustin Rue announcing in May 2021 that he was looking for someone to take over the project. So clearly this hasn’t been an area with much recent interest.
Perhaps the arrival of macOS Ventura and the removal of Network Locations will spur the revival of an old project or the creation of something new. Under the hood, the control seems to still be there—Apple’s
networksetup command-line tool for controlling all of this is still there in the latest Ventura beta. For the sake of those who still rely on Network Locations, I hope someone will fill the gap.