How to Enable a Wi-Fi Adapter

Windows 10 Wi-Fi adapters can be turned on and off with just a few clicks

What to Know

  • Open Settings: Network & Internet > Change Adapter Settings, select your Wi-Fi adapter > click Enable this network device.
  • You can also right-click the Windows 10 Wi-Fi adapter name and select Enable.
  • Repeat these steps and select Disable this network device or Disable to turn off your Wi-Fi adapter.

This article explains how to enable the Wi-Fi adapter in Windows 10 if another user, a virus, or an unexpected glitch turned it off. You can also use these steps to disable the Windows 10 Wi-Fi adapter if you want to disconnect your device’s wireless internet functionality.

Changing the Windows 10 Wi-Fi adapter settings is a simple yet relatively advanced process, usually part of a more extensive troubleshooting session for fixing a buggy Windows 10 Wi-Fi connection.

If you want to turn off Wi-Fi temporarily while traveling or working, you can do so by selecting the Wi-Fi icon in the Windows 10 Action Center. You can also use Windows 10’s Flight mode to quickly turn off Wi-Fi and other wireless signals such as Bluetooth.

How Do I Enable the Wi-Fi Adapter in Windows 10?

Here’s the easiest method for how to enable your Windows 10 device’s Wi-Fi adapter if you suspect it’s been disabled.

  1. Click the square icon in the lower-right of the screen to open the Windows 10 Action Center.

    Windows 10 desktop with a ship background image.
  2. Click All settings.

    Windows 10 desktop with Action Center open.
  3. Click Network & Internet.

    Windows 10 Settings app.
  4. Click Change Adapter Settings.

    Windows 10 Network and Internet settings.
  5. Select the Wi-Fi adapter you want to enable.

    Windows 10 network adapter settings.
  6. Click Enable this network device. If the enable option isn’t available, the Wi-Fi adapter is probably already enabled, and the Wi-Fi problems you’re having are related to something else.

    Windows 10 network adapter settings.

    Alternatively, you can right-click on the connection and select Enable.

  7. After a few seconds, your Wi-Fi adapter should turn on. If your Windows 10 internet settings allow it, your device may also automatically connect to any nearby recognized internet connection.

    If you ever want to disable your Wi-Fi adapter, repeat these steps and select Disable this network device.

    Windows 10 network adapter settings.

How to Enable and Disable Wi-Fi Adapters with Command Prompt

If you prefer to use the Windows 10 Command Prompt tool, you can view the current status of your device’s network adapters by typing:

netsh interface show interface

To enable a network adapter in Command Prompt, type:

netsh interface set interface enable

Type the following to disable a network adapter:

netsh interface set interface disable

How Did My Wi-Fi Adapter Get Disabled?

If you’ve discovered one or all of your Windows 10 Wi-Fi adapters have been disabled and you don’t remember making this change, one of the following things happened:

  • Another user disabled your adapters. If you share your Windows 10 computer with someone else, this is likely the case.
  • Malware or a virus disabled your Wi-Fi adapters. A computer virus or malware is likely if you’ve noticed this change after recently downloading a file or installing a new app. 
  • A suspicious program made the change. It’s possible a new app you or someone else installed somehow disabled your adapters.

Regardless of the cause, you can help protect yourself from future incidents by updating Windows 10 to the latest version, keeping your apps up-to-date, and only downloading apps from trusted websites. It can also be good to read up on online scams so you don’t get tricked into downloading any suspicious files that can make system changes.

Why Is My Wireless Adapter Not Working?

The most common cause of a wireless adapter not working in Windows 10 is it’s been disabled. In this case, you can re-enable it by following the steps above. If your wireless adapter can’t be enabled and refuses to work, you may want to try updating its driver, running the Internet Connections troubleshooter, or performing a network reset.

Why Should I Disable Windows 10 Wi-Fi Adapter Settings?

There are few reasons for most people to disable a Wi-Fi adapter on a Windows 10 device, though some may choose to make their device completely offline permanently.

You may want to disable a Wi-Fi adapter if you don’t need it. Also, disabling and then enabling an adapter may fix some problems associated with it.

In general, though, choosing to disable a Windows 10 Wi-Fi adapter isn’t something most users will ever need to do.

How Do I Enable Wi-Fi When Disabled?

Once your Wi-Fi adapter is enabled, you’ll still need to connect to a network via the Network icon in the Taskbar or Action Center.

Make sure Wi-Fi is turned on in the Action Center and Flight mode is turned off.

  • How do I reset a wireless adapter?

    To reset your wireless adapter, which removes all its network settings, go to Settings > Network & Internet and choose Network reset > Reset Now. For a less drastic option, disable and re-enable the adapter instead: Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Change adapter options and select Disable. Wait a minute, and then click Enable.

  • How do I increase the signal strength of a USB wireless adapter?

    To boost your USB wireless adapter's signal strength, try a USB extension cable, which will let you position the adapter in the line of sight of the router. Also, move your computer closer to the wireless router, or consider upgrading your adapter to one with external antennas.

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