If your computer has a wireless network adapter, Windows will automatically detect wireless networks in range of your computer. You can see a list of wireless networks that Windows has detected in Connect to a Network.

  • Open Connect to a Network by clicking the network icon (Picture of the wireless network icon or Picture of the wired network icon) in the notification area.

If Windows doesn't detect a network that you think is in range of your computer, it could be because of one of the following reasons:

  • The wireless switch on your computer is turned off.

    Many laptops have a wireless switch on the front or side of the computer. If your computer has a switch, make sure it's turned on. Some computers also use a function key combination to turn the switch on or off. Check the information that came with your computer for details on locating the wireless switch.

  • Your computer is too far from the wireless router or access point.

    Move your computer closer to the router or access point. If the computer is portable, try moving it around to determine the range of the wireless signal and the best place to use the computer.

    If you can't get closer to the router or access point, consider buying and installing an external antenna for your wireless network adapter. Many wireless network adapters are set up so that you can attach an external antenna to them, which provides better reception than a built-in antenna. Check the information that came with your wireless network adapter to see if you can install an additional antenna.

  • The wireless router or access point is turned off or isn't working properly.

    There are two things to try:

    • Make sure the router or access point is turned on and that the wireless signal light is illuminated.

    • Reset the router or access point by unplugging it, waiting at least 10 seconds, and then plugging it back in.

      Warning

      • Resetting the router or access point will temporarily disconnect everyone from the network.

    If you don't manage the access point or network, contact the network administrator.

  • There is interference from other devices.

    Some home devices can cause interference between your computer and networks that might be in range. For example, microwave ovens and some cordless phones use the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) frequency, which is also used by 802.11b and 802.11g network hardware. Other cordless phones use the 5 GHz frequency, which is used by 802.11a network hardware.

    There are two things you can try in this situation:

    • If any devices like these are near your computer, turn them off temporarily or move them farther away.

    • Change the router or access point settings to use a different wireless channel, or set the channel to be selected automatically if it's set to a fixed channel number. Sometimes, one wireless channel is clearer than others. In the United States and Canada, you can use channels 1, 6, and 11. Check the information that came with your access point or router for instructions about setting the wireless signal channel.

  • The router or access point is busy.

    The router or access point might be too busy to respond to new requests if there are several computers or devices using it. If you have other computers that are connecting to the network, try temporarily disconnecting them.

  • The network you're looking for is set to not broadcast its network name.

    Wireless routers and access points can be set up so that they don't broadcast the network name. In this case, you can't detect that the network is in range (in order to connect to it) unless you've previously connected to the network or you manually connect to the network using the service set identifier (SSID). To connect to a network that's not broadcasting its network name, follow these steps:

    1. Open Manage Wireless Networks by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type wireless, and then click Manage wireless networks.

    2. Click Add, and then click Manually create a network profile.

    3. Type the network information.

    4. If you want Windows to automatically connect when the network is in range, select the Start this connection automatically check box.

    5. Select the Connect even if the network is not broadcasting check box, click Next, and then click Close.

    The network will be added to your list of networks and will be available to connect to when your computer is in range of the network. To connect to the network, follow these steps:

    1. Open Connect to a Network by clicking the network icon (Picture of the wireless network icon or Picture of the wired network icon) in the notification area.

    2. Click Unnamed Network, click Connect, and then type the network information.

      The network will be added to your list of networks and will be available to connect to in the future when your computer is in range of the network.

  • Your network administrator is blocking access to certain networks.

    If you're on a corporate network, your network administrator might be using Group Policy to control your access to wireless networks. If you think there are wireless networks in range of your computer that aren't visible or that you can't connect to because your network administrator has blocked access to them, contact your network administrator for assistance.

  • The wireless network adapter is in monitor mode.

    If a network monitoring program is running on your computer, the wireless network adapter will be set to monitor mode, which prevents Windows from connecting to wireless networks. To connect to a wireless network, close the network monitoring program or follow the instructions in the program to exit monitor mode.