How to Connect to a Wi-Fi Network

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.

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Windows prompts you to enter the Wi-Fi network security key.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

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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

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Click the Wireless Network icon.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

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."

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Turn on Wi-Fi and select the network you want to join.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

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.

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Click the Connect button.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

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.

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Type the security password.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

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.

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Windows 8.1 prompts you to connect to other devices on the same network.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

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

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Open the Network and Sharing Center.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

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.

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Click the Wireless Properties button.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

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.

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This network uses WPA-2 Personal security.
credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

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.

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