How to Connect to a Wireless Network in Windows 7

Get your computer on a Wi-Fi network

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With every iteration of Windows, Microsoft improves the ease in which we connect to wireless networks. This guide will show you how to connect to wireless networks and the configuration steps necessary.

As of January 2020, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7. We recommend upgrading to Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 7.

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View Available Wireless Networks and Connect

Screenshot of available networks in Windows 7

One of the first things that you will notice when you follow the steps in this guide is that there are many wireless networks out there. However, connecting to them could compromise your computer's security.

The biggest problem encountered by users that connect to public unencrypted networks is that someone can hijack your connection and see what you are transferring over the airwaves.

To put it simply, if a network is public and does not have encryption, avoid it. Now that you've been warned about the dangers of connecting to public networks, I can show you how to connect to wireless networks using Windows 7.

Each wireless network has a signal strength indicator that provides a visual guide to determine the strength of the wireless signal. All green bars means an excellent signal, one bar equals a poor signal.

View Available Wireless Networks & Connect

To view a list of available wireless networks, select the Wireless Networking icon in the Notification area on the left side of the Taskbar.

If the network you are trying to connect to is not listed, the router may not be broadcasting the network's SSID (wireless network's name). If this is the case refer to your router's documentation to determine the steps necessary to enable SSID broadcasting.

Once you identify the network you wish to connect to from the list, select the network name and then choose Connect.

Before you connect to the network you will have an opportunity to check Connect Automatically so that your computer will automatically connect to the network when in range.

If the network you are trying to connect to is unsecured, meaning that a password is not required to connect to the network, you should be able to access the internet and other network resources right away. However, if the network is secured you will need to follow the step below to connect.

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Enter Password and Connect

Screenshot of Type the network security key in Windows 7

Secured networks require authentication. If you are connecting to a secured wireless network you will have two options to authenticate. You can enter the required password or if your router supports it you can use the Secure Easy Setup button on the router.

Option 1 - Enter Password

1. When prompted, enter the password for the router you are connecting to. To view the characters in the text field, clear the Hide Characters checkbox. This is especially useful if the password is long and complex.

As soon as you enter a character in the password field you will not be able to use Secure Easy Setup to connect to the router.

2. Select OK to connect.

Option 2 - Secure Easy Setup

1. When prompted to enter the password, walk over to the router and press the Secure Easy Setup button on the router. After a couple of seconds, the computer should connect to the wireless network.

If Secure Easy Setup does not work, try again. If it is still not working it may be disabled on your router. Consult the router's instruction manual in order to enable and configure the feature.

You should now be connected to the wireless network. Learn more about sharing files and managing wireless network profiles.