What to Do When Your iPad Won't Connect to the Internet

A sign that reads

Marcelo Graciolli/Flickr

If your iPad won't connect to the internet, it may be a problem with your Wi-Fi network, your data connectivity or the router itself. But just as often, it's a problem with the app or website you're trying to use rather than the iPad itself. Let's break down where the problem is and how to address it.

Is It Them or Is It You?

The first thing you should do is open up your web browser and direct it to a major website like www.google.com or www.yahoo.com. If you can connect to these websites but have problem with an app or another website, it's not a problem with the iPad. It's a problem on the other side, and the only thing you can do is wait until it is fixed.

But if you can't even connect to a website like Google or Yahoo...

Wi-Fi: Check Your iPad's Connection to Your Network

Most of us connect to the internet through a Wi-Fi network, so the iPad's Wi-Fi connection is the first thing we'll check. When you are connected, you should see the Wi-Fi symbol at the top of the iPad's display on the status bar. The status bar is the area that shows the time, percentage battery, and it runs along the top of the iPad's screen.

The Wi-Fi symbol looks like a dot with two circular waves above it and appears either on the far left side of the status bar for iOS 11 and earlier versions of the operating system or the far right for iOS 12 and later versions of the iPad's operating system.

Wi-Fi symbol on iPad, enlarged

If you have a poor connection, one or more of the waves above the dot may be gray rather than black. If you only have a dot, your Wi-Fi connection may be so degraded that you can't connect to the Internet. This is usually solved by moving closer to your router or modem. And if you can't see this symbol, you may not be connected to Wi-Fi at all.

  1. Go to your iPad's settings. This is the app icon that appears to be gears turning.

  2. On the left-side menu, choose Wi-Fi.

  3. The Wi-Fi on-off switch is at the top left of the Wi-Fi settings. If it is on, the button should be on the right-side and the switch will be green. If it is off, tap the switch to turn it on. 

  4. You will also need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network. If connected, the network name will appear just below Wi-Fi at the top. If you aren't connected to a Wi-Fi network, you will need to connect to one under Choose A Network.

    Wi-Fi settings pane on iPad
  5. A lock sign on the far right of the network name indicates you will need a password to connect to it. If this is your home network, the password is usually printed on a sticker attached to the router. If you are at a hotel, coffee shop or some other location with public Wi-Fi, you will need to ask for the password.

  6. If the network doesn't have a lock sign, you may need to agree to terms and conditions. This is a common reason why an iPad may be connected to Wi-Fi but have no access to the internet. Many hotels and other public spaces require guests to agree to conditions before the internet is enabled. After connecting to the Wi-Fi network, wait about thirty seconds. If the network requires it, a form with the terms and conditions will appear in the Settings app.

You may also be able to connect to the Internet using a personal hotspot from your smartphone. This is great if you are in public but don't have access to a public Wi-Fi network. Find out more about using your smartphone as a hot spot.

Wi-Fi Works: But Where's the Internet?

It's quite possible to have a good connection to your Wi-Fi network but no iPad internet connection. There are two devices that could be causing this problem: your iPad or the router. The easiest way to check the router is to go to another device such as a PC, tablet or smartphone and see if the Internet is working on that device.

A TP-Link router with a full range of network lights on.
Firecracker PR/Flickr

No Devices Can Connect to Internet

t is a problem with the router or modem. You can try resetting the router or modem by turning it off for several seconds and then turning it on again. It may take several minutes for the router or modem to boot up and establish an Internet connection. If the router boots up but you still can't connect to the internet, you may have a problem with the router or your internet service provider may be experiencing an outage. It is usually best to wait to see if service returns, but it you still can't connect after an hour, you will need to call in to your internet provider.

Only iPad Not Connecting to Internet

That leaves the impression it's something wrong specifically with the iPad. Here are a few things we can try on the iPad to clear up any problems.

  1. First, reboot the iPad. This is the number one troubleshooting step for many problems simply because it works an unbelievable amount of the time.

    • Hold down the Suspend/Wake button at the top of the iPad for several seconds until the iPad beckons you to slide to power off.
    • Slide the Power button to the right to power down the iPad.
    • After the screen has gone completely dark for several seconds, power it back on by holding down the Sleep/Wake button again.
    • When you see the Apple logo, you can release the button.
  2. If rebooting doesn't work, we'll need to forget the network. This can clear up problems with the settings stored about the Wi-Fi network.

    • Launch the Settings app on the iPad and choose Wi-Fi from the left-side menu.
    • Tap the Information button next to the connected Wi-Fi network. This is the button with an 'i' and a circle around it.
    • Last, tap Forget This Network at the top of the screen. You will need to log in again to test the Internet.
    Forget This Network button in Wi-Fi settings on iPad
  3. If you have tried rebooting and forgetting the network to no avail, it is time to reset the network settings. Don't worry, this isn't as dire as it sounds, but it will delete all stored Wi-Fi passwords, so you will need to log in again to each network you use.

    • First, launch the Settings app and choose General from the left-side menu.
    • Scroll down to the bottom and tap on Reset.
    • Select Reset Network Settings from the list. You may need to enter your passcode to verify this choice.
  4. If you are still having problems connecting your iPad to the Internet, you may have a problem with your router and how it communicates with the iPad. The next step is to upgrade your router's firmware to ensure it is on the latest version. Read our guide for help on upgrading the firmware on your router.

iPad Won't Connect to the Internet Using Cellular Data

If you have an iPad with LTE and cannot connect to your cellular network or have trouble connecting to the internet even when connected to cellular, there are a few things to try.

A screenshot of iOS cellular settings showing the Cellular Data option.
  1. First, ensure that you are actually connected to the cellular network. You should see the name of your cellular carrier (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) in the status bar at the top of the iPad's display. If you do not see your carrier, you may be in a dead spot, or you may simply have cellular turned off. We'll cover turning on cellular after the next step.

  2. If you are connected, check the strength of the connection. You should have up to four bars next to the name of your cellular network. These bars rate the signal strength of your connection and anything under three bars is considered a poor connection. At two bars, you should usually still have access to the internet. At one bar, it may take several minutes or longer to load a webpage. You can download a tool that will test the speed of your internet connection to help with troubleshooting.

  3. If you aren't connected, launch the iPad's Settings app and choose Cellular from the left-side menu. If the on-off switch next to Cellular Data is off, tap it to turn it back on. It may take a few moments to connect to the network.

  4. If you are still having problems, reboot your iPad. You can do this by holding down the Sleep/Wake button and following the directions on the screen. When your iPad is powered down, hold the Sleep/Wake button to boot it back up again.

  5. If rebooting doesn't help, you should check for a carrier settings update. You will need to be connected to the internet to do this, so you may have to wait until you have Wi-Fi access. Launch the Settings app and choose General > About. If there is a carrier settings update, you will see a pop-up message about it.

  6. If there isn't a carrier settings update, remove and reinsert your SIM card. You can learn how to locate and remove your SIM card on Apple's website.

  7. If nothing else has helped, you will need to call your cellular carrier.