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Retrieving Your WiFi Network Password

Mary, from Boston asks:

I lost the password to my WiFi network and can’t figure out how to get it back. Can you help?

With the advent of laptops and smart phones, wired internet is fast becoming a thing of the past. While it has not become obsolete completely, the widespread usage of Wi-Fi networks and the improvement in Wi-Fi technology has made it the de facto mode of internet connectivity in most homes and offices today. In fact, windows also provides you with the option of creating an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network with internet connection sharing (ICS) enabled in order to use a wired connection with a desktop / laptop as a Wi-Fi router in order to connect other machines to the internet. This provides you the flexibility of networking all your machines as well as doing away with wires and enjoying wireless connectivity.

One of the commonly faced problems while trying to get more computers onto the same network is that the password to the network has been misplaced and you do not know how to retrieve the password. Wi-Fi networks provide you with the option of encrypting the network with a WPA (Wi-FI Protected Access) or a WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) key.

Follow the below steps in order to retrieve the Wi-Fi Network’s Key

1. Navigate to the Control Panel by clicking on Start>Control Panel>Network and Internet


2. Click on Network & Sharing Center. Alternatively you can also open the Network & Sharing Center by right clicking your network (LAN) icon and choosing Open Network & Sharing Center. Then click on View network status and tasks.


3. Click on Manage Wireless Networks in the left menu


4. Right Click the required wireless network and select Properties


5. Click on the Security Tab

6. In the Wireless Network Properties dialog box, click on Show Characters to reveal the password


Note: The icon next to the reveal password option indicates that this option is only enabled for users who have Administrator level access. If you are a user with limited rights/privileges or a Guest user, then you will not be able to see the network password.

The above steps are designed to retrieve a lost password and not in order to obtain unauthorized access to a Wi-Fi network.

Using Above Approach to Modify a Network Password

This same sequence of steps can be performed to modify the existing password of a wireless network. For better security, use stronger passwords with a combination of upper and lower case alphabets as well as numbers and special characters. This will protect your network from unauthorized entry / access and ensure that all the devices on the network are from trusted parties only.

~Deepak Kannan