Figuring out how to connect to WiFi should be simple, shouldn't it?
The only problem is, the process is different depending on which WiFi provider you have and which operating system your device uses.
Luckily, I'm here to walk you through the process of connecting to a wireless network, no matter what the circumstance.
Keep reading for instructions on how to connect to WiFi with your Internet provider from your WiFi-enabled devices.
In This Guide
How To Connect To WiFi In General
I probably don't need to explain to you why having a wireless connection is absolutely necessary. You can connect to WiFi pretty much anywhere you go these days with numerous amazing WiFi-enabled devices. No matter what you're trying to connect, the process should be pretty easy.
What is WiFi?
WiFi is what computers, smartphones, and certain devices use to access the Internet wirelessly. You can access the Internet at home using a wireless Internet router, which is a box that sends and receives signals between an Internet network connection and the devices connected to it. Wireless Internet routers also require a wireless access point to allow communication between devices and the Internet.
WiFi Access Points
A wireless access point is a communication device built to support WiFi on Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs). Access points are receivers for wireless radio signals and are often used to support public Internet hotspots and business networks. If you were thinking about buying a second router for a broader range, a WiFi access point may be the perfect solution.
All WiFi devices, including WiFi access points, work with one or more modes including infrastructure and ad hoc.
- Infrastructure Network: In Infrastructure mode, your devices all connect through one WiFi access point within your network. If you have a router with an access point built in, every device connected to the access point should be set to infrastructure mode. Most WiFi networks work in infrastructure mode.
- Ad Hoc Network: An Ad Hoc network, on the other hand, doesn't require a central access point. Devices can connect directly to each other instead.
Wireless Network Adapter
A wireless adapter is a small USB device that plugs into your computer wirelessly. It can connect your game console or computer to a WiFi network or another computer wirelessly. Wireless adapters send data via radio waves to wireless routers. Then, the data is passed on to broadband modems or internal networks.
Laptops and smart devices usually come with a Wireless Network Adapter built in, but you may need to install them if you have a desktop computer. You can also purchase a wireless card network adapter. Many computers come installed with wireless cards, but you can also buy and install them yourself.
Wireless gateways provide the same functions as a wireless access point, a router, and a firewall all in one device. A wireless gateway can also work as a dynamic configuration protocol by automatically assigning IP addresses to devices that are trying to connect to the network. Check out this wireless gateway from Xfinity Wireless as an example. It can even power your cable!
General Steps To Connect To WiFi
1. Make sure your WiFi router is connected and your device is WiFi-enabled
If your wireless router isn't connected, nothing can connect to it. Make sure it's plugged into the wall and all lights are green. If this is not the case, you may need to refer to your router manual or call your Internet provider. If you're connecting to public WiFi, just make sure you're within the router's range. Also, make sure your device is capable of connecting to WiFi.
2. Go to your settings and look for a WiFi option
If you're on a smartphone mobile device, WiFi should be one of the first options in your WiFi-enabled device's settings. On a computer, this option can usually be accessed on your status bar and in your network settings.
3. Select a known network
Some public places like coffee shops, cafes, and airports have public wireless network connections that may require you to submit your email for security reasons. Otherwise, you'll be connecting to a private wireless network with your network's SSID username and password. Your password can also be called a security key or a network key.
4. Type in the password
You may have to type in a password depending on the network security settings.
How To Connect To WiFi on iPhone/iPad
Connecting to WiFi on an iPhone or iPad will take just a second. If you want to use your iPhone or Tablet's WiFi on an airplane, you can set it to airplane mode. Airplane mode turns off your cellular data capabilities while still allowing you to connect to your plane's WiFi network.
1. Go to your Settings.
2. Tap on WiFi.
3. Make sure WiFi is turned on.
4. Select the WiFi network you'd like to connect to.
5. It may prompt you to type in a password.
6. You'll see a blue check to the left of the network when you're connected.
How To Connect To WiFi On Mac
How you connect to your Mac depends on which type of connection you're using. For example, if you want to connect using an Ethernet cable, the process will be different in comparison to connecting wirelessly. Check the Apple website for more connection instructions.
Connect To Mac With Ethernet Cable
1. Plug in the Ethernet cord to your Mac and the wall.
2. Then, your Mac will connect automatically.
3. You may want to connect your Ethernet cable to your router instead, depending on the circumstance.
Connect your Mac Wirelessly
1. Click the WiFi network icon on the menu at the top of your screen.
2. Enter the password for the network if it requires one.
3. Check the box next to "Remember This Network" so you don't have to reconnect every time you turn on your computer.
4. You can also use a base station. Apple's base stations extend the range of your wireless network.
How To Connect To WiFi on Android
Connecting your Android phone to WiFi should be easy.
1. Go to your settings.
2. Tap WiFi from the Wireless and Networks section. It may say WLAN instead of WiFi on some devices.
3. Turn WiFi on.
4. Select the name of the WiFi network you want to connect to.
5. You may have to enter a password. Then click connect.
6. You will see a WiFi network icon at the upper right side of your screen in the status bar when you're connected.
How To Connect To WiFi on PC
1. First, you'll need a Broadcast Internet connection and modem, a wireless router, and a wireless network adapter. You'll also need to find the network SSID name and password of your wireless network. This should be on the box your router came in.
2. Click the WiFi icon on your desktop or laptop computer.
3. WiFi network options in the area will appear. Select a known network to connect to.
3. Check the box for "Connect Automatically" if you want to be connected each time you log on. Then click Connect.
4. Type in your WiFi password if it's required and click OK. You should then be connected to WiFi.
How to Connect a Chromecast to WiFi
Creating an Internet connection between your Chromecast and your wireless router is pretty simple. Once you're connected, you can watch all of your favorite movies and TV shows from the best streaming sites. Here's how to do it.
1. Plug in your Chromecast to your HDTV and connect its USB power cable to the wall.
2. Change the input on your TV until your screen is on says Set me up.
3. Download the Google Home App from the app store on your Android or iOS smart device.
4. If you don't connect using Bluetooth (with Chromecast 2 and Ultra), you'll need to connect your smart device to the same WiFi as your Chromecast device.
Connect to WiFi With iOS Mobile Device
- Go to your iOS tablet or phone settings.
- Click on WiFi.
- Connect to the network matching your Chromecast (maybe ChromecastXXXX).
- Click the home button once you're connected and head back over to the Google Home App.
Connect to WiFi With Android Mobile Device
You can also mirror your Android phone's screen onto your TV with the Chromecast. Here's how.
- Open the Google Home App on your Android phone.
- Open your navigation drawer.
- Tap "Select Screen."
- Choose your Chromecast device.
- If your phone is a Nexus, you can get to these settings through your quick settings menu.
5. Once you've done that, Click on Devices at the upper right corner of your Google Home App screen on your smart device.
6. Make sure the name of the Chromecast matches the one on your screen and click Continue.
7. It should say "Chromecast Found" once it's connected. Then a code will pop up on your TV screen. Click "I See It." This is just to make sure you're setting up the right Chromecast. Then you'll have to follow the directions to continue setup, but you will be connected to WiFi.
For more information and to see step-by-step instructions, you can check out our screen mirroring guide here.
How to Connect a Printer to WiFi
Every wireless printer may connect to WiFi a bit differently, but that's ok. I'll go through how general connection usually works and try to discuss any problems you may have on the road to connecting your wireless printer to WiFi.
1. Determine what you want to connect to. It can be a WiFi access point (can be built into your router), a computer, or a mobile device.
2. Next, you'll need to determine which mode you'll be using to connect.
3. Get the network SSID username and password ready.
4. Make sure DHCP is turned on. Otherwise, you'll have to assign your own IP address. Additionally, if you set the access point to connect with devices with specific MAC addresses, you need to type in those Mac addresses before you can install.
5. There should be an access point built into your router. You have to connect to this is connect to WiFi.
6. Your computer, smartphone or tablet should already be connected to the Internet, so you'll need to connect to the same network using your printer's WiFi settings.
7. Depending on which wireless printer you have, you'll need to navigate the WiFi settings and follow the instructions to connect. You can check your user manual or search Google for specific instructions for your printer.
Print From Your iPad or iPhone
It's pretty simple to connect your printer to iPad tablets and iPhones. Here's what to do.
1. Make sure your iPad or iPhone and your printer are connected to the same WiFi. You can check your printer's manual for set up instructions. Most wireless printers are completely compatible with the iPad and iPhone.
2. If you want to print something from your web browser, you can click the share button at the bottom of your screen.
3. Then tap print.
4. You should see a new page pop up that looks like this.
5. Click on the gray "Select Printer >."
6. Select the printer you want to print with. If it is connected to the same WiFi, it should pop right up.
7. Then you will see your printer next to printer on the previous page.
8. Click Print.
Print From Your Android Device
If you want to print from your Android Device, you'll need to add your printer to Google Cloud Print first. Here's how to do it.
1. Open your Chrome web browser.
2. Click on Menu at the top right.
3. Click on Settings.
4. Click "Show Advanced Settings."
5. Scroll down and click Manage under where it says "Google Cloud Print."
6. Click Add Printers.
7. Once you have this done, download the Google Cloud Print app from the app store on your Android device.
8. You'll be able to see your printer on the Google Cloud Print app as long as you're signed in on your smartphone to the same account as you Cloud Print app.
9. Then, simply go to the file you want to print and tap the menu button (it has three dots).
10. Click Print.
11. Tap the arrow for the drop-down menu to select your printer.
12. Then click Print again.
How To Connect WiFi on Xbox
The method of connecting to WiFi on your Xbox depends on which version of the Xbox you have.
Connect Your Xbox 360 to WiFi
Both the Xbox E and Xbox S have WiFi capabilities built in. Here's how to connect to WiFi.
1. Turn on your console.
2. Go to System > Network Settings > Edit Settings.
3. Set the network SSID name to your wireless router's name.
4. If your SSID doesn't pop up, select "Specify Unlisted Network." Enter a password if necessary.
5. Select Infrastructure as the WiFi mode. Then, select the same security mode as your wireless router.
6. Save your settings.
How to Connect to Xfinity Wifi
Getting a wireless connection through Comcast Internet from XFINITY wireless is easy.
1. First, you should download the Xfinity Internet My Account app on your smart device to figure out your Wifi name and password (a.k.a. security key or network key).
2. Then, click here for a Xfinity Internet video tutorial on how to connect to Xfinity wireless with your tablet, computer/laptop, and smartphone.
Now that you're connected to the Internet, you should learn how to secure your WiFi to keep strangers from using your network and protect your information. Need WiFi for the road? Take a look at our step-by-step instructions for enabling WiFi in your car.
Check out Network World for more WiFi news, tips and research.