How to Connect to Hidden Wi-Fi Networks on Windows

As a precautionary measure, people and organizations hide their Wi-Fi networks, especially when it isn’t for public use. They choose not to broadcast the SSID so that when people turn on their Wi-Fi, it doesn’t appear on the list of available networks to connect to. Your best friend might hide their Wi-Fi network from their roommate and others in their building, but that also locks you out. This tutorial shows you how to connect to hidden Wi-Fi networks via the taskbar and Windows settings.

Connecting Through the Taskbar

Before connecting to a hidden network, you need to know the network name or SSID (Service Set Identifier), the type of encryption, and the network’s password. After obtaining this information from the owner of the Wi-Fi network, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Windows taskbar and click on the network icon.
  1. Scan the list of available networks and click on “Hidden Network.”
  1. Click on “Connect automatically,” then “connect” so that you don’t have to repeat this process for this network.
  1. Add the network name and click “Next.”
  1. Add the security key or password and click “Next.”
  1. When your PC verifies and connects, a message will appear asking if you want to make your PC discoverable. Choose “Yes” or “No.”

Connecting Through Windows Settings

The following steps provide an alternative method to connect to hidden Wi-Fi networks through the Windows settings:

  1. Go to “Settings” from the Start Menu or press the Win + I keys.
  1. In the Settings app, click “Network & Internet.”
  1. Click “WiFi,” then “Manage known networks.”
  1. Click on “Add a new network.”
  1. Add the network name, the security type and the security key.
  1. Click on the boxes that says”Connect automatically” and “Connect even if this network is not broadcasting” so that you don’t have to repeat this process.
  1. Click “Save” and give your PC a few seconds to connect to the added network.

How to Unhide a Hidden Network When You Have the Router’s Details

To unhide a hidden network, you’ll need the login information on your router’s website. The default login information will be in your manual if you haven’t set these. You’ll also need the network key, SSID, and encryption key, usually found at the back/bottom of the router.

If you’re having trouble finding your router’s IP address, you can check out our list of common router addresses for the brand of your router.

After getting all the necessary details, follow these steps:

  1. Enter the router’s IP address when connected to the network.
  1. Log in to the network and navigate to the settings panel.
Connect To Hidden Network Router Ip Address
  1. Select “WiFi Settings.”
Connect To Hidden Network Wifi Settings 2
  1. Uncheck the option to “Hide SSID,” or your provider might give the option to enable “Broadcast Network Name,” in which case you should select that. Ensure that you save these settings.
Connect To Hidden Network Broadcast Ssid 2
  1. If you follow these steps correctly, your network/router name or SSID will be visible to others. To add an extra layer of security, you could enable MAC filtering to manually enter the addresses you want to use to access your network.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a hidden network more secure?

No. Hiding your network only prevents your router from broadcasting your SSID. A hidden network doesn’t protect you from malicious hackers who actively pursue hidden networks. For added security, choose a strong password and encryption like WPA3, and if your device doesn’t support WPA3, opt for WPA2.

Can my network still be found after hiding the network?

Yes. Your network name or ID will be hidden but not the network itself. Wireless network analyzers – like Netspot, SolarWinds Wi-Fi analysis, and Acrylic Wi-Fi – can easily sniff out your network and provide other users with your network name or SSID.

Does connecting to a public Wi-Fi network expose my device to hackers?

Yes. Your PC is exposed to hackers when using a public network, as the information generated, including your data, is unencrypted. While using a public Wi-Fi network, cybercriminals can easily access and steal your personal information. Read our article on unauthorized logins to find out how to know if someone else is logging in to your Windows PC.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Tayo Sogbesan.

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