Now that we've told you what Wi-Fi is and how it works, it's time to show you how to get connected to a Wi-Fi network! This lesson will walk you through the steps that you need to take in order to connect your PC, laptop, or mobile device (i.e. tablet computer or smart phone) to the Internet through Wi-Fi.
To connect most devices to Wi-Fi, you need to have a wireless adapter, and have it enabled. Then, you will need to go to your computer's network settings, tell it that you want to connect to a network, and select the Wi-Fi network that you want to connect to. You may also have to input a security password.
How to connect your PC or laptop to Wi-Fi
To connect your PC or laptop to Wi-Fi, make sure your device's wireless adapter is installed and enabled. Then, go to your Control Panel, and then your Network and Sharing Centre. Choose to Connect to a Network, select the network that you want to connect to, and input its security password (if applicable).
Need some help figuring that out? Here's what it looks like, from start to finish.
First, make sure that your computer has a wireless adapter, and that it's enabled. To do so, click the Start menu, then right-click on Computer, and then left-click on Properties. From there, click Device Manager, and you should see one with "wireless" in it among those under "Network Adapters". If you right-click it, you should be able to click Enable to make sure that it's working, if it isn't already.
If your computer doesn't have a wireless adapter, you may have to purchase an external one. You can usually get one that can plug into a universal serial bus (USB) port on your computer from most major electronics stores.
Click the Start menu, and then click Control Panel.
From your control panel, click Network and Sharing Centre.
Once you're in your network centre, click Connect to a Network.
You should be shown a list of Wi-Fi networks that you can connect to. The bars next to them should give you an idea of how strong their signals are. You can also move your mouse cursor over one to see other details, such as what frequency it is using. Click on a Wi-Fi network to select it, and then click Connect to connect to it.
(NOTE: The little icon at the bottom here, if available, can be clicked to go right to this step.)
You may be asked to enter a security password before you can connect to a Wi-Fi network. Click in the box labelled "Security Key" and type in the security password for that Wi-Fi network, and then click OK.
If all goes well, you should be connected to the Wi-Fi network, and thus connected to the Internet!
How to connect Wi-Fi to mobile devices (iPad, iPhone, Android)
To connect your mobile device to Wi-Fi, you will have to first go to its Settings area. From there, tap Wi-Fi, and select a Wi-Fi network to connect to. If there isn't one, create a new one by entering its name, security type, and password (if applicable). Then, make sure to turn on your device's Wi-Fi adapter.
Need a visual tour of those instructions? We've got one coming right up!
Turn on your mobile device, and navigate through the app manager until you find Settings. Tap it to select it.
Tap the Connections menu (if you aren't there already), and then tap Wi-Fi.
If you are not currently connected to a Wi-Fi network, or you wish to connect to a different one, tap Add Wi-Fi Network.
Tap in the box labelled "Network SSID" and use your device's (virtual) keyboard to type in the name of the network that you wish to connect to. Then, tap the drop-down menu labelled "Security" and select what kind of password this network has (if any). If the network has a password, tap the box labelled "Enter Password" and use your device's (virtual) keyboard to type in the password required for accessing the network. Finally, tap Connect.
If all of your information checks out, you should be connected to the network that you chose! Oh, but don't forget to make sure that your device's Wi-Fi adapter is enabled by tapping the switch beside "Wi-Fi" so that it's turned on!
So, now you know how to connect a device to an already-existing Wi-Fi network! But how do you set up a Wi-Fi network for people to connect to in the first place? We'll cover that in our next lesson on what Wi-Fi routers are and how to set them up.