How to Connect to a Wireless Network in Windows 7

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View Available Wireless Networks & Connect

Connect to available wireless networks.
List of available wireless networks.

With every iteration of Windows, Microsoft improves the ease in which we connect to wireless networks. However, there are still some of us that are baffled by the steps necessary to connect to wireless networks and the configuration steps necessary.

That's why in this guide I will show you step-by-step how to connect to a wireless network using Windows 7.

Wireless Networks Surround Us

One of the first things that you will notice when you follow the steps in this guide is that there are a lot of wireless networks out there, however, this doesn't mean you should connect to them because you could be compromising your computer's security.

Public Wireless Networks Are Unsafe

The biggest problem encountered by users that connect to public unencrypted networks is that someone can hijack your connection and see what you are transferring over the airwaves.

To put it simply - if a network is public and does not have encryption, avoid it. Now that you've been warned about the dangers of connecting to public networks, I can show you how to connect to wireless networks using Windows 7.

View Available Wireless Networks & Connect

1. To view a list of available wireless networks click the Wireless Networking icon in the Notification area on the left side of the Taskbar.

Note: If the network you are trying to connect to is not listed, the router may not be broadcasting the network's SSID (wireless network's name). If this is the case refer to your router's documentation to determine the steps necessary to enabled SSID broadcasting.

A Word About Signal Strength

You will also notice that each wireless network has a signal strength indicator that provides a visual guide to determine the strength of the wireless signal. All green bars means Excellent signal, one bar equals poor signal.

2. Once you identify the network you wish to connect to from the list, click on the network name and then click Connect.

Note: Before you connect to the network you will have an opportunity to check Connect Automatically so that your computer will automatically connect to the network when in range.

If the network you are trying to connect to is unsecured, meaning that a password is not required to connect to the network, you should be able to access the internet and other network resources right away. However, if the network is secured you will need to follow the step below to connect.

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Enter Password and Connect

Authenticate Wireless Network
If prompted you must enter password to wireless network or use SES on the router.

Secured Networks Require Authentication

If you are connecting to a secured wireless network you will have two options to authenticate. You can enter the required password or if your router supports it you can use the Secure Easy Setup button on the router.

Option 1 - Enter Password

1. When prompted enter the password for the router you are connecting to. To view the characters in the text field uncheck Hide characters.

This is especially useful if the password is long and complex.

Note: As soon as you enter a character in the password field you will not be able to use Secure Easy Setup to connect to the router.

2. Click OK to connect.

Option 2 - Secure Easy Setup

1. When prompted to enter the password, walk over to the router and press the Secure Easy Setup button on the router. After a couple of seconds, the computer should connect to the wireless network.

Note: If Secure Easy Setup does not work, try again. If it is still not working it may be disabled on your router. Consult the router's instruction manual in order to enable and configure the feature.

You should now be connected to the wireless network. Learn more about sharing files and managing wireless network profiles.

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