Wi-Fi Tutorial: How to Connect to a Wireless Network

Connect to Wi-Fi on Windows and Mac

Connecting to a wireless network or a public Wi-Fi hotspot is a pretty straightforward process, but there are some slight differences between the various operating systems.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows and Mac computers. There are separate instructions for connecting to Wi-Fi on Android and iPhone devices.

What You Need to Connect to Wi-Fi

All modern smartphones, tablets, and computers come with a built-in wireless network adapter. If you're using an older device, or if your internal Wi-Fi adapter is broken, you can purchase a USB Wi-Fi adapter.

If the network is secured with a password, or the administrators have hidden the network name (SSID) from being broadcast, you'll also need to find out that information to get connected.

How Connect to a Wi-Fi Network on Windows

  1. Select the wireless network icon in the taskbar. It either looks like two computers or a set of bars in the lower-right corner of the screen.

    The wireless symbol is in the upper-right corner of the screen on Macs.

    A screenshot from Windows XP showing the wireless network icon
  2. Select the wireless network you wish to connect with.

  3. Select Connect.

    On Macs and some versions of Windows, you will automatically connect when you click on the network.

    A screenshot of the Wi-Fi network in Windows 10 with the Connect button highlighted
  4. Enter the security key if the wireless network is encrypted (with WEP, WPA or WPA2). This will be stored for next time, so you'll only have to enter it once.

    A screenshot of the credentials window in Windows 10 with the Next button highlighted
  5. When it says that you're connected, open a web browser and visit a website to confirm that you can access the internet.

    If you're connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot, you may be prompted to open your browser to accept the networks' terms and conditions.

    When it says that you're connected, open a web browser and visit a website to confirm that you can access the internet.

How to Stay Safe Using Wi-Fi

To mitigate the risks of using an unsecured wireless network, make sure you have a firewall installed and turned on before connecting to a public hotspot. You should also have the latest antivirus updates and operating system patches. On Windows, you can assign network location types to automatically set up the appropriate security level.

How to Fix Wi-Fi Connection Problems

If you have trouble connecting to a Wi-Fi network, there are several things you can check depending on your specific type of issue:

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