The design of WiFi Explorer aims to make it easy for non-technical users to troubleshoot home or a small office wireless networks, but also to provide IT and WLAN professionals a tool for preliminary assessments and troubleshooting of larger and more complex networks such as the those found in enterprise environments.
Here’s a list of features in WiFi Explorer that IT and WLAN professionals, as well as users that are serious about Wi-Fi might find useful when it comes to troubleshooting wireless networks:
Annotations are custom labels you can assign to particular networks. They can be used, for example, to indicate the location of an access point (e.g. 2nd floor) or to help identify or monitor a number of networks with the same SSID. To assign a custom label to a network, you must make sure the Annotations column is being displayed. Go to WiFi Explorer > Preferences > Columns and select the Annotations column. Then, double-click the Annotations column’s field in the row that corresponds to the network you want to annotate and enter your custom label.
Annotations will be shown in the Signal Strength or Channels graphs, but only when the Annotationscolumn is being displayed. Also, if you have a large number of networks, you can create a text file with the annotations for each BSSID in CSV format and import it. For example:
To import a CSV file with annotations, choose File > Annotations > Import from CSV…, the choose the CSV file with the list of annotations. Similarly, you can also export the annotations so they can be edited outside WiFi Explorer or simply saved somewhere. To export the annotations in CSV format, choose File > Annotations > Export to CSV…, then choose a name for the CSV file.
2. Hiding DFS channels
WiFi Explorer can be configured to hide the DFS channels, UNII-2 (52 – 64) & UNII-2 Ext (100 – 144), from the Channels graph if no DFS networks are found. This option allows you to better utilize the available space to visualize nearby networks and it’s particularly useful for people who have small screens (e.g. 11″ MacBook Air).
If a DFS network is found, WiFi Explorer will automatically expand the graph so all networks, including DFS networks, are shown. To automatically hide DFS channels go to WiFi Explorer > Preferences > Advanced and check the option “Hide DFS channels if no networks are using them.”
3. Grouping networks by radio
Some access points allow you to define multiple networks (SSIDs) for the same frequency band or radio. You can choose to visualize the access point itself rather than these individual networks in the Signal Strength or Channels graphs (networks are grouped by band and channel). The access point will be plotted using the maximum signal strength of any of the networks it defines, or using the signal strength of a selected network that belongs to the group defined by the access point.
To group networks by radio, check the option “Group networks by radio” in the Signal Strength or Channels graph.
4. Setting the color of a network
WiFi Explorer assigns a random color to each network, which is not necessarily the same every time you run the app. If you use WiFi Explorer to monitor or troubleshoot specific networks on a regular basis (e.g. your home network), you can set a specific and permanent color for those networks so it becomes easier to identify them, especially after re-launching the app.
To set the color of a network, select the network, switch to the Network Details tab and click on the colored square at the bottom-right corner of the view, below the graph, then choose a color from the palette. The color you select will be used for that network every time you run the app.
5. Filtering by BSSID, band or channel
In addition to filtering by SSID, annotations or vendor names, the Filter field (top-right corner) gives you the ability to filter by BSSID, frequency band or channel.
To filter networks by BSSID, type either :XX or XX: where XX is an octect of the BSSID you are searching for. You can also extend the text with more octets (e.g. 00:11, 00:11:22) to search for more specific BSSIDs.
To filter networks by frequency band, just type the name of the frequency band, for example: 2.4 GHz, 2.4ghz, 24ghz, 5 GHz, 5GHz, etc. in the Filter field.
To filter networks by channel number, just type the channel number in the Filter field, e.g. 11
Other filtering tips:
- If you need to filter using an exact match, use quotation marks for the keywords, e.g. “ABC School”.
- You can negate a filter by simply prefixing it with “!” (exclamation mark). For example, to list all networks that don’t have the word “School” in their names, simply enter “!School” (without the quotes).
- You can filter on multiple fields by separating the keywords using semicolon (“;”). For example, if you want to filter networks so that only 2.4 GHz networks with an SSID starting with “School” are shown, simply enter “24ghz; School” in the Filter field.
6. Updating the vendors database
When you open WiFi Explorer, the app automatically checks (once a day) for newer versions of the vendors database. If a new version is found, you will be prompted to download the update. You can manually check for an update by going to WiFi Explorer > Preferences > Advanced and clicking the button “Check Now”, or you can disable automatic checks by unchecking “Automatically check for updates.”