July 8th, 2021
How to fix a laptop that won't connect to Wi-Fi
It's happened to all of us: You grab your laptop to watch a movie, but when you sit down and open your browser, your computer won't connect to Wi-Fi. What should you do?
At Asurion, our experts help millions of customers get the most out of their tech and resolve their device problems. Here's their guide to why your laptop won't connect to Wi-Fi—and how you can fix it.
Why won't my computer connect to Wi-Fi?
There are many reasons why your Mac® or PC laptop might have trouble joining a wireless network. Here are some of the most common issues:
- Your device is in airplane mode or has Wi-Fi turned off.
- Your router is down.
- You're entering an incorrect Wi-Fi password.
- Your laptop is too far from your router.
- Your device may not support the Wi-Fi network it's connecting to.
How to fix your laptop so it connects to Wi-Fi
If your computer won't connect to Wi-Fi, the solution could be something simple—restarting it is always a good first step—or more involved. Try each of these options until one of them gets your Apple® or PC laptop back online.
Make sure Wi-Fi is turned on
It may sound simple, but checking to make sure your Wi-Fi didn't accidentally get turned off is the first troubleshooting step you should take.
On a Mac:
Go to the Apple menu in the top-left corner. Then click System Preferences > Network. If you see a Turn Wi-Fi On button, click it and connect to your network.
On a PC running Windows™ 10:
Click on the internet icon in the bottom-right corner. Make sure that the Wi-Fi box is blue, indicating that it's on. If it's not, click on it and connect to your network. Also check that airplane mode is turned off.
Restart your router
Rebooting your router can help to fix connectivity issues by clearing out cache and refreshing connections. Here's how:
- Disconnect all the cables from your router, then unplug it. Removing the cables can help clear out any static in the lines, which can impact your connection.
- Wait at least 30 seconds, then plug it back in.
- Once your router is on again, wait at least two minutes before trying to connect to Wi-Fi.
Confirm your password
Wi-Fi passwords are case-sensitive and can be long and complicated, especially if you're using the default one that came with your network. Make sure you're using the correct password for the network you're trying to join—and be precise when you enter each letter, number, or symbol.
Move your laptop near your router
If your laptop is far away from your router or there are many walls between the two, your computer might not be able to get a strong signal. Move your laptop to an area that is within 10–15 feet of your router and free of obstructions, then try to connect. Have that one spot in your space that always seems to have a weak Wi-Fi signal? A wireless mesh network could help.
Connect to a compatible network
Your router may have two Wi-Fi frequency bands, one labeled 2.4 GHz and the other 5 GHz. Typically, the 2.4 GHz band provides better coverage and the 5 GHz band provides faster speeds. If one band isn't working for you, try the other.
Run your laptop's troubleshooting software
Both Macs and PCs have built-in software to help with internet connection problems. Here's how to run it.
On a Mac:
- Quit all open apps and try to join your Wi-Fi network.
- Then click on the magnifying glass icon in the top-right corner.
- Type “wireless diagnostics" into the search bar, and press return.
- Follow the instructions and the program will analyze your connection, point out any issues, and provide potential solutions.
On a PC running Windows 10:
- Go to Start > Settings > Network & Internet > Status > Network troubleshooter. Follow the steps and the program will attempt to resolve your problem.
Reset your wireless network
If you've tried everything else and your computer still won't connect to Wi-Fi, try resetting your network. Make sure you have your wireless password, since you'll need to rejoin the network after you reset it.
On a Mac:
- Go to the Apple menu and click System Preferences > Network.
- Select Wi-Fi in the menu on the left, and click the minus button. Then click Apply.
- Click the plus button and select Wi-Fi on the Interface dropdown menu. Then click Create and click Apply.
- Find your network in the Network Name menu.
On a PC:
- Go to Start > Settings > Network & Internet > Status > Network reset.
- Click Reset now. Your laptop will remove your network adapters, then it will restart and reinstall them. You may need to reinstall any VPN software you're using.
- Go back into your Wi-Fi settings and try to connect to your network.
Make sure your laptop is covered
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