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just a slightly irritating problem:

I have two wifi networks in my home, and both have their WPA keys stored in the keychain. However if I am connected to one, but need to change to the other in mid-session, it asks me for the WPA key. Irritating because keys are quite long and cumbersome.

It doesn't do this at login time: always selects the last network I was using (or tried to use), so the keychain clearly knows the keys.

How can I get this behaviour also when I change networks in mid-session?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Prompting for an administrator password is a preference (but I guess that's not what you see when being asked for the WPA key?):

  • Go to System Preferences, Network
  • Select your AirPort network
  • Click button Advanced
  • See the option "Require administrator password to: Change networks"

Advanced AirPort preferences

As you commented that you already have that option disabled, maybe OS X has forgotten the password for Keychain Access? Check the following then:

  • Go to Utilities, Keychain Access
  • Open its preferences, pane First Aid
  • Consider enabling "Keep login keychain unlocked"?

Keychain Access preferences

(As an aside: see MarcoPolo to switch automatically!)

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Actually that option was already unchecked, Arjan. – Thomas Browne Dec 27 '09 at 12:02
It might be prompting for Keychain access then? – Arjan Dec 27 '09 at 12:08
Thanks for your help,Arjan. Unfortunately my panel looks exactly like yours!! I'll play around with this and if I fix it I will post. – Thomas Browne Dec 27 '09 at 14:02

I had the same problem problem -- network A -- to which I was able to connect anytime without entering password and B that was asking for password all the time. The only solution was to turn the airport off and then back on.

The answer was in the Keychain Access. I realized that A has 2 keychain records, in keychain login and system while B only in system.

I had some problems creating login keychain as it was disappearing again but in the end I have both of them even on the B network and all works as expected. The login keychain should allow access to AirPort and SystemUIServer.

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I'm not sure, but it might be the AirPort admin setting:

  1. Go to the "Network" panel in the System Preferences App.
  2. Select AirPort on the left.
  3. Click on the (Advanced...) button
  4. Disable "Require Administrator Password to control AirPort˜
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looks like my panels are different from those on Arjan's answer - I'm running Mac OS X 10.5.8 – villares Dec 28 '09 at 15:31

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