How to Connect an iPad to Wi-Fi in 6 Easy Steps

connect ipad to wi-fi
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While some iPad models offer always-on 4G LTE internet connections that get you online anywhere there's a cellular data signal, every iPad can get online using Wi-Fi. While not quite as ubiquitous as 4G cellular networks, Wi-Fi networks are pretty easy to find. Whether you're in your office or home, the airport or a coffee shop or a restaurant, it's likely there's a Wi-Fi network available.

Finding a Wi-Fi network is only the first step to getting your iPad online. Some Wi-Fi networks are public and available to anyone (though some of these require payment). Others are private and password protected. This article will help you connect your iPad to either kind of Wi-Fi network.

Connecting an iPad to Wi-Fi

When you want to get your iPad online, follow these steps to connect to Wi-Fi:

  1. From the iPad's home screen, tap Settings.

  2. On the Settings screen, tap Wi-Fi.

  3. To start the iPad searching for nearby wireless networks, move the Wi-Fi slider to on/green. In a few seconds, a list of all the networks near you will be displayed. Next to each network are indications of whether they're public or private, and how strong the signal is. If you don’t see any networks, there may not be any within range.

  4. In many cases, you'll see two kinds of Wi-Fi networks: public and private. Private networks have a lock icon next to them. To connect to a public network, simply tap the network name. Your iPad will attempt to join the network and, if it succeeds, the network name will move to the top of the screen with a checkmark next to it. You've connected to Wi-Fi! You're done and can start using the Internet.

  5. If you want to access a private network, you'll need a password. Tap the network name and enter the network's password in the pop-window. Then tap the Join button in the pop-up.

  6. If your password is correct, you’ll connect to the network and be ready to get online. If not, try entering the password again (assuming you've got the right one, of course).

Advanced users can click the i icon to the right of the network's signal strength indicator to access more technical configuration settings. Everyday users won’t need to look at these options.

Next to each network name is a three-line Wi-Fi icon. This shows the strength of the network's signal. The more black bars in that icon, the stronger the signal. Always connect to networks with more bars. They'll be easier to connect to and will deliver a faster connection.

A Shortcut to Connecting to Wi-Fi: Control Center

If you want to get online fast and are in the range of a network you've connected to in the past (for instance, at home or the office), you can turn on Wi-Fi quickly using Control Center. To do this, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. In Control Center, tap the Wi-Fi icon so that it's highlighted. Your iPad will join any nearby Wi-Fi network that it's been connected to in the past.

Connecting iPad to iPhone Personal Hotspot

If there are no Wi-Fi networks nearby, but there's an iPhone connected to a 3G or 4G network, you can still get your iPad online. In that case, you need to use the Personal Hotspot feature built into the iPhone to share its data connection (this is also known as tethering). The iPad connects to the iPhone via Wi-Fi. To learn more about this, read How to Tether an iPad to an iPhone.

If Your iPad Can't Connect to Wi-Fi

Having trouble connecting your iPad to Wi-Fi? Check out How to Fix an iPad That Won't Connect to Wi-Fi for great tips and techniques for fixing that problem.

Data Security and Wi-Fi Hotspots

While finding a free, open Wi-fi network when you need one is great, you should also be mindful of security. Connecting to a Wi-Fi network that you haven't used before and don't know that you can trust could expose your Internet use to surveillance or open you to hacking. Avoid doing things like checking a bank account or making purchases over an untrusted Wi-Fi network. For more Wi-Fi security tips, check out Before You Connect to a Wi-Fi Hotspot.