How to Connect to Hidden Wi-Fi Networks on Windows

Person using blue Windows laptop

As a precautionary measure, people and organizations hide their Wi-Fi networks, especially when it isn’t for public use. They choose not to broadcast the SSID so that when people turn on their Wi-Fi, it doesn’t appear on the list of available networks to connect to. Your best friend may hide their Wi-Fi network from their roommate and others in their building, but that also locks you out. This tutorial shows how to connect to hidden Wi-Fi networks via the taskbar and Windows settings.

FYI: Forgot a saved password? Here are 5 ways to view saved Wi-Fi passwords in Windows.

Connect to Hidden Wi-Fi Using Taskbar

Before you connect to a hidden Wi-Fi network, you need to know the network name or SSID (Service Set Identifier), the type of encryption, and the network’s password. Obtain this information from the owner of the Wi-Fi network.

Then, click the network icon on the Windows taskbar. Bring up the list of available Wi-Fi networks to connect to. You can fix your Wi-Fi network not showing up with some quick fixes if you’re unable to see a particular network.

You’ll see a network titled Hidden Network. Click on it, ensure Connect automatically is checked, and click Connect.

Enter SSID for hidden network

You’ll be prompted to enter the SSID of the network. Based on the info you gathered from the Wi-Fi owner, enter the name in the box and click Next.

Screenshot of Wi-Fi networks on Windows 11

The next screen will ask you for the network security key or the password. Enter the password you obtained and click Next again.

Enter hidden network security key

When your system verifies and connects to the network, a message will appear asking if you want to make your PC discoverable. Choose Yes or No.

Tip: Can’t see taskbar icons? Fix an unresponsive Windows 11 taskbar.

Connect to Hidden Wi-Fi Using Settings

The following method provides an alternative way to connect to hidden Wi-Fi networks using the Windows settings.

Bring up the Settings screen by pressing Win + I. Select Network & internet on the left, then click Wi-Fi on the right.

Screenshot of Windows 11 network settings

Click Manage known networks.

Click manage known networks

Next to Add a new network, click Add network. Add the Network name, Security type, and Security key. Check the boxes next to Connect automatically and Connect even if this network is not broadcasting so that you don’t have to repeat this process every time.

Click Save and wait for your PC to connect to the added network.

How to Unhide a Hidden Network When You Have the Router’s Details

To unhide a hidden network, you’ll need the login information for your router’s website. The default login information in your product manual will work if you haven’t changed it. You’ll also need the network key, SSID, and encryption key, usually found at the back/bottom of the router.

If you’re having trouble finding your router’s IP address, you can check common router addresses for popular router brands and find the IP address for yours. In most cases, the IP address is known to work.

After getting all the necessary details, enter the router’s IP address when connected to the network. Enter the ID and password on the screen and navigate to the settings after logging in. The options will look different for different routers, but you need to find something similar to Wi-Fi Settings or Local Network.

Screenshot of router wifi settings, Local Network

On the settings window, find the WLAN or Wi-Fi settings and look for something titled WLAN SSID Configuration or SSID Settings.

Screenshot of router wifi settings, WLAN SSID Configuration

On this screen, you should be able to see an option to hide the SSID. Uncheck the option or select Off (based on your router’s settings page) to make the network visible. If there are multiple SSIDs listed on this page, you’ll have to do this for each network you want to make visible.

WLAN SSID Configuration SSID Hide

Click Apply or Save to save your changes.

If you follow these steps correctly, the network/router name or SSID will be visible to others. If you’re concerned about unauthorized access to your network due to it being visible, you can check and kick unwanted connections off your Wi-Fi.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a hidden network more secure?

No. Hiding your network only prevents your router from broadcasting your SSID. A hidden network doesn’t protect you from malicious hackers who actively pursue hidden networks. For added security, choose a strong password and encryption like WPA3, and if your device doesn’t support WPA3, opt for WPA2.

Can my network still be found after hiding the network?

Yes. Your network name or ID will be hidden but not the network itself. Wireless network analyzers – like Netspot, SolarWinds Wi-Fi analysis, and Acrylic Wi-Fi – can easily sniff out your network and provide other users with your network name or SSID.

Does connecting to a public Wi-Fi network expose my device to hackers?

Yes. Your PC is exposed to hackers when using a public network, as the information generated, including your data, is unencrypted. While using a public Wi-Fi network, cybercriminals can easily access and steal your personal information. But it’s possible to know if someone else is logging in to your Windows PC.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Tanveer Singh.

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Tanveer Singh
Tanveer Singh - Staff Writer

After a 7-year corporate stint, Tanveer found his love for writing and tech too much to resist. An MBA in Marketing and the owner of a PC building business, he writes on PC hardware, technology, video games, and Windows. When not scouring the web for ideas, he can be found building PCs, watching anime, or playing Smash Karts on his RTX 3080 (sigh).