How to Fix an iPad That Won't Connect to Wi-Fi

Most common problems connecting to the internet can be fixed in a few easy steps, and sometimes it is as simple as moving from one room to the next. Before we delve into deeper troubleshooting issues, be sure you've already tried these tips first. 

  • Move closer to your router. The first solution is to move closer to your router. If you are too far away, the Wi-Fi signal strength may not be strong enough for your iPad to connect to Wi-Fi.
  • Make sure the Wi-Fi network is running. Before spending too much time troubleshooting why your iPad is having a problem, make sure it's actually the device that has the problem. Use your laptop, desktop or smartphone to connect to the Internet and verify the router is working. It's preferable to connect wirelessly to verify the Wi-Fi is working, but if you don't have another wireless device, using your desktop will be fine.
  • Remove any case or covering from the iPad. If you have a case, it's a good idea to remove it while following these troubleshooting steps. This probably won't fix the problem, but any obstruction could cause the signal to lose some strength.
  • Verify the password. If you are being asked to join a network and keep getting denied after entering the password, it's a good idea to verify that you are typing in the right password. Some passwords can be quite long and complicated and it is easy to mistake an "8" for a "B" or a "0" for an "O".

 If none of these fix the problem, move to the (slightly) more complicated steps below.

Troubleshooting Your iPad's Network Settings

Troubleshooting network settings screenshots of iPad

It's time to check some of the basic network settings, but first, let's make sure it's not a public network causing you a problem.

  1. If you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot such as at a coffee house or cafe, you may need to agree to terms before you can access apps that use the network connection. If you go into the Safari browser and attempt to open a page, these types of networks will often send you to a special page where you can verify the contract. Even after you okay the contract and get on the Internet, you may not have access to all of your apps.
  2. If you're connecting to your home network, go into the iPad Settings and make sure everything is set up okay. Once you tap on the Settings icon on your iPad, the first setting you want to check is at the top of the screen: Airplane Mode. This should be set to Off. If Airplane Mode is on, you won't be able to connect to the Internet.  
    1. Next, click on Wi-Fi just below Airplane Mode. This will show you the Wi-Fi settings. There are a few things to check:
      Wi-Fi Mode is On. If Wi-Fi is set to off, you won't be able to connect to your Wi-Fi network.
    2. Ask to Join Networks is On. If you aren't being prompted to join the network, it may be that Ask to Join Networks is off. The easiest solution is to turn this setting on, though you can also input the information manually by choosing Other from the network list.
    3. Are you joining a closed or hidden network? By default, most Wi-Fi networks are either public or private. But a Wi-Fi network can be closed or hidden, which means it won't broadcast the name of the network to your iPad. You can join a closed or hidden network by choosing Other from the network list. You will need the network's name and password to join.

Reset the iPad's Wi-Fi Connection

Reset wifi connection screenshots of iPd settings

Now that you've verified that all of the network settings are correct, it's time to start troubleshooting the Wi-Fi connection itself. The first thing is to reset the iPad's Wi-Fi connection. Usually, this simple step of telling the iPad to reconnect will solve the problem.

  1. You can do this from the same screen where we verified the settings. (If you've skipped the previous steps, you can get to the correct screen by going into your iPad's settings and choosing Wi-Fi from the list on the left side of the screen.)
  2. To reset the iPad's Wi-Fi connection, simply use the option at the top of the screen to turn Wi-Fi Off. All of the Wi-Fi settings will disappear. Next, simply turn it back On again. This will force the iPad to search for the Wi-Fi network again and rejoin.
  3. If you still have problems, you can renew the lease by touching the blue button to the far right of the network's name in the list. The button has a > symbol in the middle and will lead you to a page with the network settings.
  4. Touch Renew Lease towards the bottom of the screen. You'll be prompted to verify that you want to renew the lease. Touch the Renew button.

This process is very fast, but it could correct some problems.

Reset the iPad

Three iPads with an arrow pointing to the power button

Apple Inc.

Before you start tinkering with some of the other settings, reboot the iPad. This basic troubleshooting step can cure all types of problems and should always be done before you actually start changing settings. Rebooting or restarting the iPad is simple and only takes a few moments to complete.

  1. To reboot the iPad, hold the Sleep/Wake button at the top of the iPad down for several seconds until a bar appears on the screen beckoning you to Slide to power off.
  2. Once you slide the bar, the iPad will display a circle of dashes before finally shutting down completely, which will leave you with a blank screen. Wait a few seconds and then hold down the Sleep/Wake button again to start the iPad back up.
  3. The Apple logo will appear in the middle of the screen and the iPad will reboot completely a few seconds later. You can test out the Wi-Fi connection once the icons reappear.

Restart the Router

Just as you restarted the iPad, you should also restart the router itself. This can also cure the problem, but you will first want to make sure no one else is currently on the Internet. Restarting the router will also kick people off the Internet even if they have a wired connection.

Restarting a router is a simple matter of turning it off for a few seconds and then powering it back on. If you are unsure how to do this, refer to your router's manual. Most routers have an on/off switch in the back.

Once your router is powered on, it can take from several seconds to several minutes to fully come back up and be ready to accept network connections. If you have another device handy that connects to the network, such as your laptop or smartphone, test the connection on this device before checking to see if it solved the problem for your iPad.

Forget the Network

Forget Network screenshots in Settings of iPad

If you're still having problems, it's time to actually start changing some settings to tell the iPad to forget what it knows about connecting to the Internet and giving the iPad a fresh start.

  1. This first option is on the same screen we visited before when we were checking the settings and renewing the iPad's network lease. You can get back there by tapping the Settings icon and choosing Wi-Fi from the left-side menu.
  2. Once you are on the Wi-Fi Networks screen, get into the settings for your individual network by touching the blue button beside the network name. The button has a > symbol in the middle.
  3. This will take you to a screen with settings for this individual network. To forget the network, tap Forget this Network at the top of the screen. You'll be asked to verify this choice. Choose Forget to verify it.
  4. You can reconnect by choosing your network from the list. If you are connecting to a private network, you will need the password to reconnect.

Reset the Network Settings on Your iPad

Reset network settings screenshots in Settings of iPad

If you're still having problems, it is time to reset the network settings. This may sound drastic, but for most people, it is about the same as simply forgetting the individual network. This step will fully flush all settings the iPad has stored, and it can solve problems even when forgetting the individual network doesn't do the trick.

  1. To reset the network settings on your iPad, go to Settings by tapping the icon and choose General from the list on the left. The option for resetting the iPad is at the bottom of the general settings list. Tap it to go to the Reset Settings screen.
  2. From this screen, choose Reset Network Settings. This will cause the iPad to clear out everything it knows, so you'll want to have your network's password handy if you are on a private network.
  3. Once you verify that you want to reset the network settings, your iPad will be at the factory default where it concerns the Internet. If it doesn't prompt you to join a nearby Wi-Fi network, you can go to the Wi-Fi settings and choose your network from the list.

Update the Router's Firmware

Linksys WRT160NL router


If you are still having problems connecting to the Internet after verifying your router is working by getting on the Internet through another device and going through all of the troubleshooting steps leading to this point, the best thing to do is to make sure your router has the latest firmware installed on it.

Unfortunately, this is something that is specific to your individual router. You can either consult the manual or go to the manufacturer's website for instructions on how to update the firmware on your individual router.

If you are really stuck and don't know how to update the router's firmware, or if you have already checked to make sure it is up to date and are still having problems, you can reset the entire iPad to factory default. This will erase all settings and data on the iPad and put it in a 'like new' status.

You'll want to make sure you sync the iPad before performing this step so that you back up all of your data. Once you have plugged the iPad into your computer and synced it through iTunes, you can follow these steps to reset the iPad to factory default settings.

If nothing's working and you've even tried going the Apple repair route, it could just be time to retire your iPad and get a new one. Don't just take whatever Apple tries to sell you, though. There are several iPad models that might work for your needs. Do your research before you plunk any pennies down.

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