Wi-Fi is the lifeblood of modern computers, but sometimes the option to connect to Wi-Fi doesn’t show up in Windows 11 (or Windows 10!). This makes it impossible to connect to the Internet or LAN resources without a cable.
Here are some of the most likely tips to fix Wi-Fi issues and get you back online in no time, starting with the best universal troubleshooting tip.
That’s right, just restart your computer. In many cases, any wireless network craziness mysteriously disappears after a reboot.
Windows 11 has an airplane or “flight” mode that disables every radio transmitting device on your computer. That includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so it’s worth checking that you haven’t accidentally put your computer into airplane mode.
You can press Windows + A or left click on the speaker in the notification area.
The Flight mode button must not burn. If so, click or tap it once.
Windows 11 has a number of built-in troubleshooters that automate the detection and repair of common problems without resorting to the Command Prompt. You can use the network troubleshooter as follows:
- Open the Home menu†
- Select the Settings Gear to open Settings†
- Open System†
- Open Resolving problems†
- Select next Other Troubleshooters†
- Select Run next Internet connections†
Now select the option to troubleshoot your internet connection and follow the instructions on the screen.
It will notify you of any issues it finds and whether it can fix them.
Some troubleshooting steps may require an internet connection or you may need to surf the internet now and fix the Wi-Fi later. There are two ways to achieve this.
First, you can boot Windows 11 in safe mode. In this mode, no third-party apps are loaded at startup and Windows falls back to a generic network adapter driver. If your wifi is working in safe mode, chances are you have some driver issues and you may need to update the drivers. Go to Starting Windows 11 in Safe Mode for specific instructions.
Your second option is to switch to an Ethernet connection. Run an Ethernet cable from the nearest electrical outlet to your Windows 11 PC.
Is your Wi-Fi turned on in the first place? There are a number of ways it can be turned off. First, in Windows 11 itself, you can select the quick settings button in the notification area. This will reveal the Wi-Fi toggle switch in Windows. Turn it on and see if everything goes back to normal.
If you’re using a laptop, you either have a hardware switch on the side of the computer or a hotkey for Wi-Fi functionality. If Wi-Fi is disabled at the BIOS level, Windows will not be able to use the hardware.
You should refer to your laptop manual for the location of the button, if any. Wi-Fi switches on the keyboard are usually controlled by the Fn key and then press the corresponding key with a Wi-Fi icon on it.
Your Wi-Fi connection may have been disabled in Windows 11 itself for some reason. To diagnose and fix the problem, follow these steps:
- Open the Home menu with the Windows key.
- Type Control panel and then press Enter†
- Go to Network and Internet † Network Center†
- Select Change adapter settings†
Here you will see all your network connections and connected modems.
Look for a Wi-Fi connection listed for the correct network adapter. In most systems there will be only one. If it’s grayed out and labeled ‘Disabled’, right click on it and select Switch†
7. Check if your WiFi adapter is connected
If you’re using a USB-based Wi-Fi adapter, which is likely if you’re using a desktop system, make sure it’s plugged in properly.
You can also try it on another computer to make sure it still works. Also try using a different USB port. Just in case there is something wrong with the port itself.
The Device Manager application shows you a list of all the hardware on your computer and whether they are working properly or not.
- Open the Home menu†
- Type Device Manager†
- Open Device Manager from the search results.
You may need to double-click the computer category to expand it.
Look for the network adapters section and expand it to see all your network adapters.
Find your Wi-Fi adapter in the list of network adapters and check for a warning icon, such as a yellow exclamation mark. Right-click on the adapter and check its properties for specific errors.
If the adapter is completely missing from Device Manager, this indicates a hardware level problem or why the adapter is not detected. If the adapter only works in safe mode, it could be software or driver related.
If the adapter has a red cross through its icon, right click on it and select Switch† If that’s not possible, you can remove devices by right-clicking them and selecting Remove. Then restart your computer to detect the hardware again.
Most of the time, your wifi stops working because the hardware driver went wrong. You must either download and install the latest driver from the manufacturer’s website, use driver roll-back in the adapter’s properties under the device manager, or uninstall the driver completely and reinstall the latest version or the latest working version.
While resetting or reinstalling Windows is an effective way to fix most problems, it’s a bit of overkill for something as small as shaky Wi-Fi. Luckily you can reset nothing but the network settings:
- Open the Home menu†
- Select the Settings Gear to open the Settings app†
- To elect Network and Internet†
- Choose now Advanced Network Settings†
- Finally choose Network reset and then reset now†
This will reset all your network and adapter settings. Restart your computer to make sure the reset is done. If you have special network configurations, such as a VPN connectionproxy server or custom DNS settings, you need to reset them.
Chances are you found this article when you were looking for reasons why a specific Wi-Fi option isn’t showing up, though others do. The easiest solution here is to reset the router and your computer for good measure.
You can also login to the router settings page and make sure that “broadcast SSID” is enabled so that the network is visible.
If the network shows up, but you can’t connect to it, try forgetting it:
- Open the Home menu†
- Select the Settings Gear†
- To elect Network & Internetthen choose Wi-Fi†
- Select Manage known networks†
- Choose the Wi-Fi network and then choose To forget†
You will need to re-enter the network password, but in many cases where network settings have been corrupted or changed, forgetting the network solves the problem.
12. Update Windows
Microsoft regularly updates Windows 11 with new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements. Unfortunately, there are so many computers in the world that it is inevitable that some computers will have problems thanks to a Windows update.
If your Wi-Fi problems started after a recent update, check the internet for any indications that other users are experiencing this issue as well. If it appears that the issue is related to an update, please visit Uninstall and reinstall Windows Updates† Then uninstall that update and check for updates that fix the problem.
If you’re using Windows 11 Pro and your Wi-Fi icon is completely missing, it could be that a setting has been changed in the editor. If your computer is managed by someone in the company you work for, ask them to check it. On the other hand, if you have access to an IT department, you should ask them to fix your wifi problem in the first place!
- Press Windows + R to open the Run dialog box†
- Type gpedit.msc and press Enter†
- In the Group Policy Editorgo to User Configuration†
- Select now administrative templates † Start menu and taskbar†
- To search Remove the network icon and open it.
- Select Handicapped in the top left corner of the window, if it wasn’t already disabled.
- Select Okay and restart your computer†
If this policy was already disabled, don’t change or save anything else in the Group Policy Editor, just close it and try another solution.
This is a long list of solutions, but you should have a working wireless connection again unless something really weird has gone wrong with your Wi-Fi. To make that Wi-Fi connection even better, check out 10 ways to boost a weak Wi-Fi signal.