How to Connect to a Wi-Fi Network

By David Weedmark

Any computer with a Wi-Fi adapter can connect to nearby wireless networks, provided you have the network password. The process is essentially the same in both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.Before using any network, it's important to know how secure it is. If you are setting up your own network, always use WPA-2 security with a strong password. WEP is considered very poor security. Your data may be at risk if connected to a WEP network, or any network that doesn't require a password.

Connect to a Wi-Fi Network

Step 1

Click the **Wireless Network" icon in the notification area of the desktop. If Wi-Fi is on and connected to any network, the icon resembles a staircase. If it's off, it displays an "X."

Step 2

Click the Wireless **On/Off** toggle to turn Wi-Fi on. Wait a few seconds for a list of nearby networks to appear. If you don't see any networks, make sure your Wi-Fi router is on and that your computer is in the same room.

Step 3

Click the **Connect Automatically** check box so that your computer will connect to this network whenever it's in range. Click the **Connect** button to join the network.

Step 4

Enter the Wi-Fi security key when prompted and click **Next**. Security keys are case-sensitive. If you don't remember the security key and this is your own network, look at the documentation that came with the router. Often, the security key is on a sticker under the router.

Step 5

Click **Yes** on a Windows 8.1 computer if you want to automatically connect to other computers or devices on the same network, like a network printer or a smart TV. You should use this option only if you're at home or at work. If you're in a coffee shop or other public place, click **No**.

See What Encryption a Network Uses

Step 1

Right-click the **Wireless Network" icon in the desktop's notification area. Select **Open Network and Sharing Center**.On Windows 7, click the **Wireless Network** icon.

Step 2

Click the **Wi-Fi** connect link under the Internet access type to open the Wi-Fi Status window, and then click the **Wireless Properties** button.On Windows 7, Right-click the current Wi-Fi network and select **Properties**.

Step 3

Click the **Security** tab in the Network Properties window. The network security type is listed at the top. This is the same for both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.