How to Turn Off (Or On) Airplane Mode on Laptops

Suspend or reinstate radio frequencies on Windows 11, 10, and 8.1 devices

What to Know

  • You can use the Network icon or the Start button to find the Airplane Mode option.
  • Easiest method: Click the Network icon on the taskbar -> click Airplane Mode.
  • Next easiest method: Start -> Settings -> Network & Internet -> Airplane Mode. Toggle on or off as needed.

This article explains how to use Airplane Mode on laptops and other devices using Windows 11, 10, and 8.1. Scroll down for separate Win 8.1 instructions.

How to Turn Airplane Mode On or Off

There are two ways to enable or disable Airplane mode on Windows 10 or 11 devices.

Use the Network icon on the Taskbar

The easiest way is from the Network icon on the Taskbar (that thin strip at the bottom of your display where the Start button exists and program icons appear). Simply position the mouse over that icon and select it. From there, select Airplane mode.

Networking setting showing Airplane mode.

Get to Airplane Mode Using the Start Button

You can also use the Start button in Windows. Follow these steps:

  1. Select Start.

    The Start menu in Windows 10.
  2. Select Settings.

    Selecting Settings in Windows 10.
  3. Select Network & Internet.

    Windows 10 control panel.
  4. Select Airplane Mode. There are also options there that let you fine-tune this and only disable Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (and not both). If you don’t use Bluetooth, you might as well turn it off to keep Windows from looking for available devices.

    Airplane mode in Windows 10.
  5. To turn Airplane Mode off, just follow these steps again.

In Windows 10, the Airplane mode icon is near the bottom of the list. It’s gray when you disable Airplane mode and blue when it’s turned on.

When you turn on Airplane mode you’ll also notice that the Wi-Fi icon changes from blue to gray, as does the Mobile Hotspot option, if they were enabled to begin with. This happens because starting Airplane mode disables all these features immediately. If your computer is a desktop PC, it might not have wireless networking hardware. In this case, you won’t see these options.

How to Turn Airplane Mode On or Off in Windows 8.1

In Windows 8.1, you start Airplane mode using a similar process. You'll select the Network icon on the Taskbar. However, in this case, there’s a slider for Airplane mode (and not an icon). It’s a toggle and is either off or on. Like Windows 10, enabling this mode disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well.

In Windows 8, follow these steps:

  1. Select Settings or use Windows key + C.

  2. Select Change PC Settings.

  3. Select Wireless. If you don’t see Wireless, click Networks.

Reasons to Enable Airplane Mode

There are many reasons to turn on Airplane mode beyond being told to by the captain of an airplane to do so. Using Airplane mode will increase the remaining battery charge of a phone, laptop or tablet. If you don’t have access to a charger and your battery is running low, this is a good place to start since only a few airplanes have power outlets.

You may also enable Airplane mode if you want do not want to be disturbed with phone calls, texts, emails, or internet notifications, but you still want to use your device. Parents often enable Airplane mode when their child is using their phone. It keeps the kids from reading incoming texts or being disrupted by internet notifications or phone calls.

Another reason to enable Airplane mode on a phone is to avoid cellular data roaming charges while in a foreign country. Just keep Wi-Fi enabled. In larger cities, you’ll often find free Wi-Fi anyway, and you can message contacts over Wi-Fi using apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and email.

Finally, if you can get to Airplane mode fast enough, you might be able to stop unwanted messages from sending. Say for example that you write a text and include a picture, but just as it’s starting to send you realize it’s the wrong picture! If you can enable Airplane mode quickly enough, you might be able to stop it from sending. This is one time you’ll actually be happy to see the “Message failed to send error”!

Finally, if the phone or device isn’t transmitting its location (or even its existence), you’ll be harder to locate. If you’re feeling especially vulnerable and want to make sure your phone won’t give you away, enable Airplane mode.

  • Why Is Airplane Mode so Important to the FAA?

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) contends that the radio frequencies admitted by cellphones and similar devices can interfere with the airplane’s navigation and communication systems. Some pilots believe that these signals can also interfere with a plane’s collision avoidance system.

    Thus, the FCC put rules into place to limit cell phone transmissions on planes, and thus the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits the use of cellular phone features during takeoff and landing, and, in flight. It is also a common belief at the FCC that lots of fast-moving cell phones may all ping several cell towers multiple times and at once, which can confuse the mobile phone network.

  • How Does Airplane Mode Work?

    Airplane mode works because it disables the device’s data transmitters and receivers. This prevents data from coming into a phone, and thus, stops notifications and calls that would normally arrive when enabled. It keeps anything from leaving the device too. Notifications include more than phone calls and texts though; they are also announcements from Facebook activities, Instagram, Snapchat, games, and so on.

    Additionally, when Airplane mode is enabled the device requires fewer resources to function. The phone or laptop stops looking for cellular towers. It stops looking for Wi-Fi hotspots or Bluetooth devices too, depending on how you’ve set it up. Without this overhead, the device’s battery can last longer.

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