What is the Airplane mode in Windows, and 5 ways to turn it On or Off

If you are a mobile user who travels a lot, you need a way to work or have fun, while flying. Luckily, just like a smartphone operating system, Windows has a feature called Airplane mode. You can turn it on so that you can use your laptop or tablet while flying, and disable it when you no longer need it. Here is what Airplane mode does, why you should use it and how, in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1:

What is the Airplane mode on a laptop, tablet or PC with Windows?

Airplane mode turns off all the wireless communications on your Windows computer or device. This feature exists only in Windows 10, and Windows 8.1. It disables the radio chips that might interfere with an airplane's communication and navigation systems or chips that you might not use while you are flying. As the name implies, this feature should be used when flying on an airplane. In Windows, when Airplane mode is turned on, it disables the following items:

  • The WiFi network card
  • The Bluetooth chip
  • Any mobile data connection (3G or 4G) that you may have

You should turn it on when boarding planes. After take-off, you can enable the Wi-Fi or the Bluetooth, if you need to use one or both of them. Airplane mode also helps you save power when flying. Because some of your device's components are turned off, they are not used, and they do not consume any energy. As a result, you get slightly better battery life. This benefit makes this feature useful even when you do not board planes, but you want to save as much power as possible, and you do not need wireless communications through Bluetooth, WiFi, or mobile connections.

NOTE: If you are interested in instructions for Windows 8.1, skip to page two of this tutorial.

1. How to turn Airplane mode On or Off from the Action Center in Windows 10

One of the fastest ways to enable or disable the Airplane mode in Windows 10 is to use the quick actions of the Action Center. There are many ways of opening the Action Center in Windows 10, and you can find them all here: How to use the notifications from the Action Center in Windows 10. However, if you are in a hurry and do not have time to read all the methods we showed in that guide, either press Windows + A on your keyboard, or click/tap on the Action Center icon from the system tray. Then, click or tap Expand, to see all the available quick actions.

In the list of quick actions, find the button for Airplane mode, highlighted below, and press on it.

This action turns on airplane mode, and you see the Airplane mode button activated, as well as an airplane icon in the notification area, on the taskbar, similar to the screenshot below.

2. How to enable or disable Airplane mode from the Networks list in Windows 10

Another method for turning Airplane mode On or Off in Windows 10 is by using the Networks list.

Click or tap on the Network icon from the notification area, on the taskbar.

Then, click or tap on the Airplane mode button to switch it On or Off, depending on what you want.

When you enable Airplane mode, you see that the WiFi is turned off, you can no longer see and use any wireless networks. Also, an airplane icon is shown in the notification area, similar to the screenshot below.

3. How to turn Airplane mode On or Off from the Settings app in Windows 10

The third and the slowest method of enabling or disabling the Airplane mode in Windows 10 is to use the Settings app. Open Settings, and go to the Network & Internet section.

In the left column, you will see an option called Airplane mode. Click or tap on it. In the Airplane mode section, you find the switch that enables or disables this feature. Here, Windows 10 also explains that turning Airplane mode On will "stop all wireless communication."

While you can use the main switch to turn all wireless chips On or Off, the Settings app also lets you do it individually, for each radio chip found on your device. If you just want the Wi-Fi network adapter to be disabled, use the Wi-Fi switch. If you only want to disable Bluetooth, use its switch.

If you are using Windows 8.1 on your laptop, tablet or PC, go to the second page of this tutorial, where you find instructions for this version.