How to Connect Your Android Device to Wi-Fi

Use Wi-Fi on your Android to stream videos, browse the web, and more

Picture of a phone connecting to Wi-Fi on a blue background

To use your Android device on a Wi-Fi network, you have to know how to connect to Wi-Fi. You can join a wireless network by turning on Wi-Fi from your phone or tablet, selecting a network from a list of available ones, and then entering the password (if it needs one).

The steps for connecting your Android to Wi-Fi is the same no matter what network you choose. This means you can follow these directions to connect your phone to your home Wi-Fi, the wireless network at work, a public Wi-Fi hotspot, etc.

Once you're connected to Wi-Fi, you can watch online movies, stream music, download apps, etc.

These steps apply equally to Android 9.0 Pie, 8.0 Oreo, and 7.0 Nougat; other Android versions might work somewhat differently. You can follow along with these steps no matter who makes your phone or tablet, whether it's Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Find the Network SSID and Password

Wi-Fi connections on Android phone

You need to know the network name (the SSID) before connecting your Android to Wi-Fi so that you know which network to choose if there are several. Also necessary is the password, if you plan to access a password protected network. 

If you're connecting to your own home network, you can usually find the default SSID and password printed on the bottom of the router. Or, if your internet was just recently set up, the modem provided by your ISP probably came with paperwork including this information.

Networks that aren't your own aren't that easy to access, so you'll need to ask the owner for the Wi-Fi password and name.

Scan for a Wi-Fi Network

Wi-Fi icon in Quick Settings on Android

Access your Wi-Fi settings to make sure Wi-Fi is turned on and to ultimately view the available networks. The easiest way to open the Wi-Fi settings is to swipe down from the top-right of the screen and tap-and-hold the Wi-Fi icon.

Here's another method that works for Android 9.0 Pie:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Scroll down and locate Network & Internet.

  3. Under the Network & Internet section, locate and select Wi-Fi.

  4. Use the toggle switch to turn Wi-Fi on.

    Network & Internet, Wi-Fi, Toggle in Android Settings

If you don't see those menu names, you might be running Android 8.0 or 7.0, or something older. Here's how to open the Wi-Fi settings on those devices:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap Connections or Wireless & Networks.

    On some devices, these may just be headings in the general Settings app.

  3. Tap Wi-Fi to open up the Wi-Fi settings.

    Some devices might call the Wi-Fi option WLAN.

  4. Under the Wi-Fi settings, flip the toggle switch to enable Wi-Fi.

Pick a Wi-Fi Network to Connect To

Once Wi-Fi is enabled on your Android phone or tablet, and you're viewing the Wi-Fi page, you'll see a list of nearby networks that you can connect to. You should consider a few things before connecting to just any network.

Networks with a key icon signify those that require a password. If you know the password, these are preferred networks to use. Unsecured networks (such as those in coffee shops, some hotels or other public spaces) have no key icon. If you use one of these networks, your connection could be breached.

If you're going to connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi network, be sure you have a firewall program installed, antivirus software active and ready to scan files, and preferably a VPN service readily available so that you can access the web while tunneled through a VPN.

Never use an unsecured network to perform private browsing activities, like accessing a bank account, logging in to your online user accounts, etc.

Estimated signal strength is displayed next to each Wi-Fi network. The darker the icon or the more bars you see, the stronger the network signal. You might occasionally lose internet access if you connect to a network with a weak signal.

  1. Once you've figured out which network you want to connect to, tap on it to start the setup.

  2. If the network is open, your device will immediately try to connect. If it's password protected and you've never connected to it before with that device, a dialog box will pop open asking for the password. Enter it, and press Connect.

    Wi-Fi lists and Password fields on Android
  3. The dialog will close, and you'll see your chosen network shoot to the top o the list. Below it, you'll see updates on the connection process.

    Obtaining IP address, Connected messages on Android
  4. When a connection is fully established, you'll see your network at the top of the Wi-Fi listing with a Connected status below it. Your network will now be saved in your device to connect more easily, and without entering the password, in the future.

Also, once connected, a small Wi-Fi icon appears in the status bar at the top right of the screen.

Connect With WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup)

WPS setup dialog on Android

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) lets you join a secure WiFi network without entering the network name and password. This is a very insecure connection method and is primarily intended for device-to-device connections, such as connecting a network printer to your Android device.

WPS is a seriously insecure connection type, and it has the potential to compromise your entire Wi-Fi network. It should be disabled on your router at all times. Do not use this unless absolutely necessary.

  1. Your router initially needs to be configured to support WPS, usually via a button on the router labeled WPS. For Apple AirPort base stations, set up WPS using the AirPort Utility on your computer.

  2. Android devices can connect using either the WPS Push or WPS PIN method, depending on the requirements of your router. The PIN method requires that you enter an eight-digit PIN to connect two devices. The push button method requires that you press the button on your router when trying to connect. This is a more secure option but requires you to be physically near the router.

  3. To get started, navigate to your Wi-Fi settings page using the same steps as described in the first section above.

  4. Open the advanced Wi-Fi settings on your device. There are two common ways to get there. On most newer Android devices, scroll below the list of Wi-Fi networks. There, you'll see Wi-Fi Preferences. Select it.

    On older devices, locate the three stacked dots in the upper right of the screen, and tap them. That will open a small menu. Select Advanced in it.

    Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi preferences, Advanced in Android settings
  5. If you're on the Wi-Fi Preferences screen, you should see Advanced at the bottom of the listing there. Press to expand it.

  6. Under the Advanced settings, however you arrived, choose either WPS push button or WPS PIN entry, depending on your router's instructions.

    WPS Push Button and WPS Pin Entry on Android
  7. A new modal window will pop open with instructions to connect to your router within a certain time frame. Follow them within that window, and you device will connect.

Check Your Wi-Fi Connection

Once you've connected your Android to Wi-Fi with a valid password, and your device has obtained an IP address for use on the network, you can view details about the connection. This includes the signal strength, data transfer speed, frequency the connection is on, type of security, etc.

  1. To find out more about your current Wi-Fi connection, return to the Wi-Fi settings like before via Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi.

    Network & Internet, Wi-Fi gear icon, and Signal Strength indicator in Android
  2. Once there, tap the SSID(name) of the network you're connected to at the top of the list. Some versions of Android may have a settings gear icon to the right to eliminate confusion.

  3. You'll arrive on a new screen with all sorts of information about your Wi-Fi connection. At the top, you'll see the name of your network along with the option to Forget it, and remove it from your device.

    Below that, you'll see things like your signal strength, which frequency you're connected on, and the type of security being used.

    On some versions of Android, you'll see a lot more. On others, there will be an Advanced option. Tap it to see even more connection info.

  4. Below Advanced, you'll see things like your IP address, the address of the gateway(router) that you're connected to, and the speed of your connection. You can't really change any of this, but it's useful information for any number of networking tasks or just figuring out why your Wi-Fi seems slow.

Get Notified About Open Wi-Fi Networks

If you're often within the range of public Wi-Fi hotspots or other networks that don't use passwords, you can set up your Android to automatically tell you each time there's a network available with a strong connection, and that doesn't need a password.

On some Android devices, you need to instead tap the settings within the Wi-Fi page, choose Advanced, and then toggle on the Wi-Fi notifications or Network notification feature.

As long as Wi-Fi is turned on (even if not connected), you'll be notified each time your device detects the signal of an available open network.

  1. Open the Wi-Fi settings.

  2. Tap Wi-Fi preferences.

  3. Tap Open network notification.

    Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi preferences, and Open network notification toggle to ON on Android