Saturday, March 10, 2012

How to enable "Select network" on the Motorola Atrix 1

If you are using a Motorola Atrix (version 1 or 2), you may realize that it that the option to "Select Network" is grayed out.

Ironically, AT&T posted a "how-to" video for selecting the network which actually shows the option grayed out.

This guide will show how to enable this option. However, if all you want is the ability to force your phone to use 2G or 3G only, there is a very easy way to do so, as described in this guide.

For the record, I am using version 4.5.141.MB860.
Note that you will need to root your Atrix for this guide.

1. Root your Atrix. Here is an excellent guide on how to do so. Unfortunately, there is no way around this because the files we need to modify to enable this setting are system-protected files that cannot be modified without root permissions
2. If you are willing to pay $3.99, download Root Explorer, which is what I will use for this guide. Otherwise, download ES File Explorer and enable "Up to Root" and "Root Explorer" in settings.

3. Open Root Explorer and grant it SuperUser privileges (once you root your Atrix, this option will pop up automatically)
4. Navigate to "/system/etc/motorola/" and select "Mount R/W"

5. Long tap defaults.xml and select "Open in Text Editor"
6. Change 'network_select_menu' value='false' to 'network_select_menu' value='true'

7. Select "Save Changes" and return to Root Explorer
8. Finally, delete the backup file created, which is defaults.xml.bak in this case

9. Navigate to "/data/data/"

10. Repeat steps 5-8 for ALL files in the share_prefs folder. Note that these files have slightly different syntax (i.e. using single quotes instead of double quotes). Just ignore this and change the value of network_select_menu from "false" to "true" in all files
11. Exit Root Explorer and go to Setting->Wireless & networks->Mobile networks. If you did everything right, the options should be enabled! Tapping "Select Network" gives you a pop up allowing you to select "2G only," "3G only," or "Automatic." Below is an image of what you get when you select "Operator selection"

Special thanks to mistadman, jjwatmyself, crnkoj, and liranm2 for their forum posts, which I compiled into this guide after running into a lot of trouble myself. Also, kudos to the Screenshot ER application, which allowed me to take all of these nice screen shots.


  1. Just a correction: in "default.xml" you should change network_select_menu' value='false' to 'network_select_menu' value='true' (I think typographical error of the author)

    Additional info:
    1. Upon saving changes in default.xml, immediately delete the automatically cretaed backup file (default.xml.bak). If it does not appear yet go out of the folder & immediately open it again, the back up will be there.
    2. Do the same for ALL files inside shared_prefs (in my Atrix 2 Android 2.3.6 it is 4 files not 3)
    3. You can use the free ES File Explorer instead of paid Root Manager. It also has the option of root manager which you need to manually enable (works only on rooted phones).

  2. Thanks. I updated the guide with your corrections.

  3. Thanks for the guide with screenshots. :).

    Worked well on Atrix 2 too. :)

  4. While following these steps does enable the "Select network" menu on the Atrix 1 (MB860) running Android 2.3.6, setting the network to "2G Only" doesn't actually change how the phone connects to the network. The icon at the top bar of the phone still says "H+", and if I go into phone diagnostics, it still shows "GSM/CDMA auto (PRL)". I've even rebooted the phone for good measure.

    1. Same here. Maybe there are no 2G networks around, so the Atrix picked the 4G one?
      If you really want to disable H+, you can go to Settings->Battery & data manager->Data delivery.

  5. Failed to do this. Even though I saved the file, changes are not reflected in defaults.xml

    1. Try rebooting your phone and following the steps very carefully. Note that I have not tested these steps with ES File Explorer.
      If you can get it to work, please post a comment back with what you did.

  6. Download Notification Toggle from Market. Make selection for 4G Toggle Switch. Open this 4G switch. Scroll screen. You will see Network selection. Make choice for required network mode.

  7. can you please let me know how to open the screen which is open in step 2. I have downloaded root explorer. But un-able to enable "Up to Root" and "Root Explorer"

    1. Step 2 only applies if you are using ES file explorer.

  8. will this method work on ICS?

    1. Not sure, but probably.
      If you try it out on ice cream sandwich, please post back whether it worked or not.