2 ways to connect to hidden WiFi networks in Windows 10
Hidden WiFi networks do not broadcast their names, so they are not visible in the list of available wireless networks that Windows 10 displays. However, that does not mean that you cannot connect to a hidden network: you can, but you have to know its name, password and other security information. Here are two ways to connect to hidden WiFi, that work on laptops, tablets and hybrid devices with Windows 10:
First, find the connection details for the hidden WiFi
When you connect to a wireless network that broadcasts its name and can be seen in the list of available networks, much of the network configuration is done automatically. All you have to do is enter a password or press the WPS button on the router. When you connect to a hidden wireless network, you need to know its security information and enter it manually. You have to know the following details:
- The network name or SSID (Service Set Identifier)
- The password for connecting to the wireless network
- The type of encryption (or security) used for the password. If the network uses WEP, note the WEP key. If is using WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK, note the Pre-shared key. If it is not using any security, you only need the SSID.
This information can be taken from the owner of the network, the IT administrator (if you are in a business environment) or from your home router if you are at home. Before trying to connect, make sure that you are in the range of the hidden WiFi.
Method 1: Use the Windows 10 wizard for connecting to wireless networks
Windows 10 makes it very easy to connect to visible WiFi networks that broadcast their name. However, for hidden networks, the process involved is not that intuitive:
First, open the list of available WiFi networks, by clicking or tapping on the WiFi signal, in the system tray (the bottom-right corner of the screen). If you do not see this icon, read this tutorial to bring it back: How to set the icons shown on the Windows 10 taskbar, in the system tray.
Windows 10 displays all the visible networks in your area. Scroll down the list to the bottom.
There you see a WiFi network named Hidden Network. Click or tap on its name, make sure that the "Connect automatically" option is selected and press Connect.
You are asked to enter the name of the hidden wireless network. Type it and press Next.
Now you are asked to enter the password (or security key) for connecting to the hidden network. Type the password and press Next.
Windows 10 spends a few seconds and tries to connect to the hidden WiFi. If everything went well, you are asked whether you want to allow your PC to be discoverable on this network. Choose Yes or No, depending on what you want.
This choice sets the network location or profile and your network sharing settings. If you want to know more and truly understand this choice, read this tutorial: What are network locations in Windows?.
You are now connected to the hidden WiFi.
Method 2: Use the Control Panel and the "Set Up a Connection or Network" wizard
If the options shown in the first method are not found on your Windows 10 laptop or tablet, then you might be using an older version of Windows 10. If you do not know which, read this tutorial: What version, edition, and type of Windows 10 do I have installed?
In this case, you need to try this method instead of the first. Open the Control Panel and go to "Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center." There, click or tap the link that says: "Set up a new connection or network."
The "Set Up a Connection or Network" wizard is started. Choose "Manually connect to a wireless network" and click or tap Next.
Enter the security information for your WiFi network in the appropriate fields, as follows:
- Enter the SSID or the name of the network, in the Network name field.
- In the Security type field choose the type of security used by the hidden wireless network. Some routers may name this authentication method. Depending on the security type you choose, Windows 10 may or may not ask you to also specify an encryption type.
- In the Security key field, enter the password used by the hidden WiFi.
- If you do not want others to see the password you type, check the box that says "Hide characters."
- To connect to this network automatically, check the box that says "Start this connection automatically."
When done completing everything, press Next.
NOTE: If you check the box that says "Connect even if the network is not broadcasting," Windows 10 searches for the hidden network every time it is not connected to a network, even if the hidden network is not in your area. This may put your privacy at risk because skilled professionals can intercept this search for the hidden network.
Windows 10 notifies you that it has successfully added the wireless network. Press Close and you are done.
If you are in the range of the hidden WiFi, your Windows 10 device automatically connects to it.
Why do you use hidden WiFi?
As you have seen from this tutorial, the procedure for connecting to a hidden network is a bit more complex than the simple process of connecting to WiFi networks that broadcast their name. Also, using a hidden WiFi doesn't make you more secure. Therefore, before closing this article, we would like to know why and where do you use hidden wireless networks. Comment below and let's discuss.