Find Wireless Network Adapters in Windows XP Notebooks

See if your computer has a built-in adapter

WIndows XP logo

Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP, having released its last update in April 2008. Please consult our guide to network computer adapters for information relevant to modern operating systems and computers.

Newer notebook computers ship with pre-installed Wi-Fi wireless network adapters. Verifying the existence of these built-in adapters can be difficult because they're not visible from the computer's exterior. Here's how to confirm or deny the existence of wireless notebook adapters in Windows XP.

  1. Right-click My Computer on the Windows desktop or Start Menu.

    My Computer icon in Start Menu
  2. Select Properties from the pop-up menu that appears. A new System Properties window will appear.

    Hardware tab in System Properties window
  3. Select Hardware.

  4. Select Device Manager near the top of this window. A new Device Manager window will appear showing a list of hardware components installed on the computer.

    Screenshot of the Windows XP Device Manager
    Device Manager in Windows XP.
  5. Select the + to the left of the Network Adapters icon. You'll then see a list of all network adapters installed on the computer. To confirm the existence of a wireless network adapter on the computer, look for any item that contains any of these words:

      • Wireless
      • WLAN
      • Wi-Fi
      • 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n
  6. If such an adapter does not appear in the list, repeat the previous steps using the PCMCIA adapters list item in Device Manager. Although generally not installed by the manufacturer, some PCMCIA adapters are also wireless network cards.

  7. If you are still unable to find the correct network adapter, another issue could be the cause. Learn some facts about network adapters that could help you resolve the problem you are having.

  • Right-clicking the icon of an installed network adapter causes a pop-up menu to appear. The Properties option on this menu reveals more detailed information about the adapter.
  • Manufacturers choose the names of network adapters, and you can't change them.
  • If a network adapter is disabled or malfunctioning, it might not appear on the Windows list even though it is indeed installed. Consult the computer manufacturer's documentation if you suspect this situation.