Connecting to Wi-Fi is an essential part of using any computer or mobile device these days. Whether you’re working from a laptop, streaming media on a tablet, or just browsing the web on your smartphone, having access to a fast, reliable wireless network is practically a necessity.
But what happens when you want to connect a new device to your home or work Wi-Fi? You need to enter the correct SSID (network name) and password in order to gain access. If you’ve forgotten what credentials you previously set up, or if you didn’t set up the network yourself, how can you find out that information?
Luckily, Windows 11 makes it easy to view the passwords for any Wi-Fi networks you have previously connected to on your PC. In just a few simple steps, you can access the wireless passwords needed to get new devices online.
Is it Possible to View WiFi Password Windows 11?
Yes, it is possible to view Wi-Fi passwords in Windows 11. Here are the steps:
- Open Settings and go to Network & Internet > Wi-Fi
- Select the network you want the password for
- Click Manage known networks
- Click the network name and click Properties
- Go to the Security tab
- Check the box for “Show characters” under Network security key
- The Wi-Fi password will now be displayed
So in summary, by accessing the network properties and enabling showing characters under the security tab, you can reveal the saved Wi-Fi password in Windows 11. This works for any network your PC has connected to previously.
The steps I outlined above show the password directly in the Windows interface. As an alternative, you can also use the ‘netsh wlan‘ command in Command Prompt to view saved Wi-Fi passwords. But the Settings interface provides the easiest way for most people to quickly see the key.
Prerequisites for Viewing Wi-Fi Passwords
Before diving into the process for viewing saved Wi-Fi passwords, it’s important to understand the prerequisites around this functionality:
- You must be signed into a local administrator account on your Windows 11 PC in order to view saved network passwords. If your account doesn’t have admin rights, you won’t be able to access passwords.
- Saved Wi-Fi passwords can only be viewed for networks that your Windows device has previously connected to. Networks it has never accessed before won’t show up.
- You can only view the passwords for wireless networks – wired Ethernet network credentials are not stored by Windows and therefore cannot be displayed.
As long as you understand those limitations, viewing Wi-Fi passwords is easy whether you just forgot what password you used or need to connect another device to the wireless network.
Step 1: Open Windows 11 Settings
The first step is simple – open up the Settings app within Windows. The easiest way to do this is click on the Windows icon in your taskbar and select the gear-shaped Settings icon near the left side of the menu.
Alternatively, you can press the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut to immediately launch Settings.
Step 2: Navigate to Network & Internet Settings
Once the Settings window opens, you’ll see a variety of options on the main page. Scroll down and select “Network & Internet” on the left side.
This will display networking-related settings that you can configure.
Step 3: Select Wi-Fi from the List of Connections
On the Network & Internet settings page, look for the “Change your network settings” header. Directly underneath this text, you’ll see a selection of network connection types. Look for the “Wi-Fi” option and click on it.
Selecting Wi-Fi specifically will allow you to view the stored passwords for any wireless networks your device has accessed previously.
Step 4: Choose Manage Known Networks
After opening the Wi-Fi network settings in the previous step, you’ll see a list of options related to wireless connectivity. Select the “Manage known networks” link under the list of nearby networks.
This settings page shows all Wi-Fi networks that your Windows device remembers connecting to previously.
Step 5: Click on the Wireless Network You Want to View
On the manage known networks page, you’ll see a list of Wi-Fi network names (SSIDs) that your device has connected to before. Click on whichever one you need the password for.
This will open more detailed settings for that particular network.
Step 6: Select View/Edit Properties of the Network
After selecting the Wi-Fi network you want, you’ll be taken to a page with general connection details and options for that network. To view the password, select the “View/Edit Properties” button near the bottom of the window.
This will open a connection properties popup window where you can view metadata related to the network, including passwords.
Step 7: Go to the Security Tab
Once in the Wi-Fi network properties screen, you’ll see several tabs running along the top (General, Security, Connection, and More Info). Go ahead and select the Security tab.
This specific tab contains authentication details, including the network password if one is set.
Step 8: Unmask the Password
Finally, under the Security tab, you’ll see the Network password section. This displays the Wi-Fi passphrase, but will mask most of the characters with dots initially.
To view the password fully, simply check the box next to “Show password.” Once checked, the actual password will be revealed, and you can now record or use it as needed on other devices.
And that’s all there is to viewing wireless network passwords in Windows 11! Keep in mind you’ll need to repeat this process for every distinct Wi-Fi network you want to view the password for.
Additional Methods for Accessing Wi-Fi Passwords
The steps outlined above represent the standard way of viewing saved Wi-Fi passwords in Windows 11 using only Settings app menus. However, there are a couple other methods worth mentioning as well:
Using the Control Panel (Windows Key + R)
The old Windows Control Panel still contains networking settings similar to Settings app, including saved Wi-Fi network information. To quickly open Control Panel, press Windows Key + R, then type
control and hit Enter.
Navigate to Network and Sharing Center > Manage Wireless Networks, then select your Wi-Fi network and click Properties, similar to before. The password will be under the Security tab here as well.
Using Command Prompt
For advanced users, you can also view networking information from Command Prompt or Powershell windows using built in system tools. The commands would be:
netsh wlan show profiles
netsh wlan show profiles name="NETWORK NAME" key=clear
The first line displays Wi-Fi profiles saved, while the second shows the password for the network name you specify. Requires admin rights.
Windows 11 offers several pathways to find passwords for wireless networks you’ve accessed previously on that device.
Why You Might Need the Wi-Fi Password
Now that you know how to view saved Wi-Fi passwords in Windows 11, you might be wondering when this information would actually be useful or necessary. Here are some of the most common scenarios:
- Getting a new computer or device online – Whether it’s another Windows machine, a Mac, smartphone, tablet, or even smart home gadget, they all need to access the password for your home or office wireless network before they can connect.
- Helping guests or visitors connect – When friends or family visit and want to access your Wi-Fi, providing the network name and passphrase allows them to quickly connect a phone, laptop, or other wireless device.
- Updating old network credentials – If your Wi-Fi password or network settings were changed, you may need the old credentials again when configuring some smart home or IOT devices to get back online.
- Resolving connection issues – Sometimes troubleshooting Wi-Fi problems requires confirming the network password was entered properly across all devices accessing that network.
So viewing your saved network passwords facilitates connecting new devices, assisting visitors, managing smart home tech, and resolving wireless issues. Having quick access to this information via Windows 11 makes connecting devices to your home or office Wi-Fi smooth and painless no matter the use case.
Limitations of Viewing Wireless Passwords
While the ability to view Wi-Fi passwords through Windows 11 provides convenience and makes life easier in many cases, it’s not without some limitations users should be aware of:
- You can only access passwords for networks your PC has already connected to in the past. Brand new Wi-Fi networks won’t be listed.
- Passwords are only revealed for wireless networks. Wired connections like Ethernet do not apply here.
- You must be signed into an administrator account on that Windows 11 PC in order to reveal saved credentials. Standard or guest user accounts can’t access passwords.
- The Wi-Fi password is only displayed in Windows settings, not in some utility apps or while trying to connect a device. You still need to manually enter the password from Windows onto that other device.
- If a Wi-Fi password or encryption type was updated, you’ll only see the outdated credentials previously used to connect.
So while extremely convenient in most cases, it’s important to be aware that some scenarios still require tracking down Wi-Fi network passwords through other methods.
Storing Wi-Fi Passwords for Easy Access
Seeing as Wi-Fi network access is so crucially important across virtually all modern technology, an even easier alternative to the above process is using a dedicated password manager app to keep all your wireless network credentials securely stored and accessible at any time.
Password manager software allows you to safely store Wi-Fi network names, passwords, login credentials for devices/accounts, and other sensitive information in an encrypted vault that you access with one master passphrase.
So rather than digging through Windows settings, you can simply launch your password manager app and instantly view or even copy/paste the Wi-Fi password whenever you need it on any device or operating system. Some examples include:
- LastPass – one of most popular free and paid password managers available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and as a browser extension. Offers secure password storage and syncing across devices.
- 1Password – very polished paid password manager with great apps and excellent UI design. Stores all kinds of network credentials, logins, documents, and personal details securely.
- Keeper – fast, reliable password manager with solid apps for every platform, business plans, and enterprise offerings available as well.
The benefit of a dedicated password manager over using Windows settings directly is portability, more granular permissions, and stronger encryption algorithms in many cases. While Wi-Fi passwords are handy to view directly within Windows itself when needed, storing those keys in a hardened password management app instead increases convenience while boosting security overall.
Changing Wi-Fi Passwords in Windows
While this article focuses specifically on viewing saved Wi-Fi passwords, if your goal is to update or change the password or encryption settings for the wireless network itself through Windows, the following steps summarize the process:
- Open Windows 11 Settings app => Network & Internet => Properties icon for your WiFi network
- Under the Security tab, select the Security Type (typically WPA3 if supported or WPA2)
- Enter your new Wi-Fi password under the Network security key field
- Save changes
All devices will now need to re-connect using the new password in order to maintain access your Wi-Fi network. Some smart home or IOT gadgets may require complete re-configuring using the updated credentials as well. This highlights the importance of storing these network details securely in a dedicated password manager for easy reference later.
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Frequently Asked Questions about View WiFi Passwords in Windows 11
Here we’ll touch on answers to some of the most common questions that come up around retrieving wireless network passwords in Windows:
Do Wi-Fi passwords expire at any point?
They can expire, but generally don’t on their own. The network owner can always change the password which expires the previously known credentials. Some corporate networks may auto-expire passwords periodically or have minimum complexity rules that the current keys may fail at some point.
Can someone hack my password through this visibility in Windows?
Extremely unlikely. The passwords are stored locally encrypted on your device’s drive and are not transmitted or exposed externally outside of your own PC. While no system is impossible to breach, there are far easier ways a hacker would attempt gaining unauthorized access than going this Windows settings route.
What about viewing Wi-Fi passwords on Mac, Linux, or mobile devices?
The methods described here only apply to Windows 10 and 11. However, most operating systems and mobile platforms do provide some way of viewing or temporarily revealing saved Wi-Fi passwords through their own settings/preferences as well, with proper admin rights. So the capability isn’t limited to just Windows, even if the instructions differ across platforms.
Is there any way to find out a Wi-Fi password without having connected to that network before?
Unfortunately no – if your PC has never accessed the target wireless network previously, Windows will not have the credentials saved anywhere to display. Without connecting in the past, the only way to reveal the password is to ask the network owner or administrator directly.
Accessing your saved passwords and connection details for previously accessed Wi-Fi networks is very simple on Windows 11. In just a few quick steps within the Settings app, you can view or export wireless network credentials as needed to get other devices online, assist visitors, manage smart home tech devices, and troubleshoot connectivity issues.
Keep in mind that while extremely convenient in most cases, this functionality does have some limitations as well. It’s also a good idea to keep a secondary record of any mission critical network passwords stored in a dedicated password manager rather than relying on Windows alone to avoid getting locked out.
But for most home users with basic wireless connectivity needs, having easy access to view stored Wi-Fi login details right within Windows itself covers the majority of use cases. So whenever you need to reference what password or encryption settings your PC is already using to connect to the wireless network, follow the steps outlined above to access that information.