Management frames are used exclusively to find, authenticate, and associate with an AP.

Figure 1 displays the field value of common management frames including:

Beacons are the only management frame that may regularly be broadcast by an AP. All other probing, authentication, and association frames are used only during the association (or reassociation) process.

Figure 2 displays a sample Wireshark screen capture of a management frame. The field values change to reflect the purpose of the frame.

Note: The example provided was captured using Wireshark. However, Wireshark must be specifically configured to capture WLAN traffic. The ability to capture traffic varies between operating systems and may require a special wireless NIC.