How to Fix It When Your Laptop Won’t Connect to Wi-Fi

Even when your other devices are connecting fine

Your laptop may not connect to Wi-Fi in a few ways:

  • Your laptop may not see the available Wi-Fi network.
  • When you try to connect to a Wi-Fi network, you may see it's connected, but there's no internet access.
  • Your laptop may show an error saying authentication to the Wi-Fi network failed.

Issues with connecting to Wi-Fi typically occur when you're first trying to connect to a new network or after you've deleted a Wi-Fi connection and are trying to connect again.

Cause of Laptop Not Connecting to Wi-Fi

There are many potential causes when a laptop won't connect to Wi-Fi. The most common one relates to correctly authenticating with the target network.

Other possible causes include faulty Wi-Fi network configuration, a malfunctioning modem or router, corrupt or failing network hardware or drivers, or antivirus software or firewall blocking your connection.

How to Fix Laptop Not Connecting to Wi-Fi

This issue applies to laptops running Windows, Mac, or Linux. These fixes may also work for other devices like smartphones or tablets.

Does your laptop not connect to Wi-Fi when other devices will? If this is the case, you can step the first step below. You should only restart your modem and router if no device can connect to the network. Otherwise, you'll need to troubleshoot the laptop itself.

  1. Restart your modem and router. When left running for long periods, a modem and router can fail and either drop its internet connection or drop the Wi-Fi network. A reset will often repair this issue. If all your devices still can't connect to Wi-Fi, you may need to do a hard reset of your router or reconfigure your router.

  2. Ensure Wi-Fi is turned on. If your laptop has a hardware switch to control Wi-Fi, make sure this is on.

  3. Move your laptop closer to the Wi-Fi router. If you can't reposition your laptop, make sure your router is in the best location in your home so all devices can connect to it.

  4. Check your Wi-Fi network connection password. If your password is wrong (or someone changed it), you won't be able to connect.

    Don't see the Wi-Fi connection at all? Add a new Wi-Fi network, select your home Wi-Fi, and type the correct password to connect.

  5. Reboot your Windows laptop or reboot your Mac. You can reboot a Linux laptop from the command line.

  6. Change your laptop's Wi-Fi channel. Most users keep their Wi-Fi adapter working on the 2.4 GHz band, but the 5 GHz band may be required to connect to your network.

  7. Reset your Wi-Fi driver. Doing this will clear the network cache and hopefully remove any connection errors.

  8. Update your Wi-Fi driver. Network connection issues often result from outdated Wi-Fi drivers, and an update can resolve this. To simplify this process, you could use free driver updater tools to update all drivers on your laptop at once.

  9. Release and renew your IP address. You'll do this using the IPCONFIG command, which will drop any IP address your router has registered for your device and create a new one. It could clear any issues your router may have in allowing the connection from your old IP address.

  10. Run the network troubleshooter. You can access this by right-clicking the network connection and choosing Diagnose, Repair, or Diagnose and Repair. On Mac, this tool is called the Wireless Diagnostics app. These built-in troubleshooting tools will often automatically resolve any Wi-Fi connection problems.

  11. Disable your antivirus or firewall software. You'll also want to try disabling the Windows firewall and turning off Windows Defender.

  • Why won't my laptop connect to hotel Wi-Fi?

    If your hotel limits the Wi-Fi connection to one device only and you've already logged on with another gadget, try disconnecting on that device and connecting to hotel Wi-Fi using the laptop. If you have two Windows laptops, you could share the connection by turning a laptop into a Wi-Fi extender; go to Settings > Network & internet > and toggle on Mobile hotspot.

  • Why won't my laptop connect to free Wi-Fi?

    Some public networks require agreeing to terms of service on an authorization page to connect; open a web browser if this page doesn't automatically launch or forget the network and try reconnecting. Select the Wi-Fi icon > Open Network Preferences > Advanced > and choose the minus sign beside the name to delete a network on a Mac. Or, right-click the network icon in the taskbar and select Network and internet settings > Wi-Fi > Manage known networks > Forget to forget a network in Windows 11

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