How to Join a Wireless Network From Any Device

The method depends on what you're using

What to Know

  • Windows 10: Right-click the network icon, then select Open Network & Internet Settings > Network and Sharing Center.
  • Mac: Select System PreferencesNetwork or select the network icon in the main menu bar and select Open Network Preferences.
  • You can access wireless settings on most smartphones and tablets via the Settings app.

When you have multiple devices, making wireless network connections with each of these devices is similar. However, special considerations apply, depending on the type of device you use. Here's how to connect to wireless networks on PCs, Macs, smartphones, tablets, TVs, printers, and other devices.

Microsoft Windows PCs

To join a wireless network in Windows 10, go to the Windows taskbar, right-click on the network icon (displaying a row of five white bars), select Open Network & Internet Settings, then choose Network and Sharing Center. Or, go to Windows Start, select Settings, choose Network & Internet, then select Network and Sharing Center.

Basic network configuration in Windows

Windows supports network profiles that enable the operating system to remember the network configuration parameters so that your computer detects and rejoins a network automatically.

PCs fail to join networks when wireless drivers are out of date. Check for driver upgrades in the Microsoft Windows Update utility. Driver updates are also available in Windows Device Manager.

Check for Updates in Windows Update

Apple Macs

The macOS Network dialog can be launched in two ways. Select System Preferences, then choose Network. Or, click the network icon (four curved bars) in the main menu bar and select Open Network Preferences.

Network in macOS System Preferences

macOS remembers recently joined networks and, by default, automatically connects to them. You can control the order in which these connection attempts are made. To prevent your Mac from automatically joining undesirable networks, set the Ask Before Joining an Open Network option in Network Preferences.

Network pane in macOS System Preferences

Install Mac network driver updates through Software Update.

Tablets and Smartphones

Almost all smartphones and tablets incorporate both built-in cellular network capability and local-area (LAN) wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. These devices automatically connect to the cell service when switched on. They can also be configured to join and use Wi-Fi networks simultaneously, using Wi-Fi when available as the preferred option for data transfer, and automatically falling back to using a data connection, if necessary.

Wi-Fi settings pane on iPad

Apple phones and tablets control wireless connections through the Settings app. Select Wi-Fi to scan for nearby networks and display them in a list under Choose a Network. After successfully joining a network, a check mark appears next to the network name.

Android phones and tablets feature a Wireless & Network settings screen that controls Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell settings. Third-party Android apps for managing these networks are also available from multiple sources.

Printers and Televisions

Wireless network printers can be configured to join home and office networks, too. Most wireless printers feature an LCD screen that displays menus where you can select Wi-Fi connection options and enter network passphrases.

Samsung UN55H6350 LED/LCD Smart TV - Photo - Network Settings Menu

Televisions capable of joining wireless networks are becoming increasingly common. Some require you to plug a wireless USB network adapter into the TV, but most have integrated Wi-Fi communication chips. Use the on-screen menus to connect the TV to your home network or to configure a bridge device, such as a DVR, that joins the network via Wi-Fi and transmits video to the TV via cable.

Other Consumer Devices

Game consoles such as Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation feature on-screen menu systems that are used to configure and join Wi-Fi networks. Current versions of these consoles have built-in Wi-Fi, while older versions require you to set up an external wireless network adapter plugged into a USB port or Ethernet port.

Screenshots of Samsung SmartThings home automation app

Wireless home automation and wireless home audio systems create proprietary wireless local networks within the home network. These setups use a gateway device that connects to the home network router using a cable and joins all of its clients to the network through proprietary network protocols.

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