Windows Vista Tip: How To Setup And Connect To A Wireless Network


Of all the Windows Operating Systems that have been released, setting up a wireless network in Vista is much more intuitive to manage. Vista includes many improvements for connecting to wireless networks starting with support for non-broadcasting wireless networks and new dialog boxes to easily configure connections to wireless networks.

This following guide will step you through setting up and connecting to a wireless network on Vista and get you on your way to surfing the Net.



Two methods exist for setting up a wireless connection on Vista. This guide assumes your Wi-Fi router or access point is already setup and running on the Network and your PC or Laptop wireless card has been installed.

Before you can get started with setting up a Wi-Fi connection, the following information will be needed from your wireless router or access point:

  • Wireless Network Name (SSID)
  • Security Mode or Type (WEP, WPA, WPA2, etc…)
  • If using WPA or WPA2 the encryption type (AES or TKIP)
  • Security Key or PassPhrase

Automatic Setup For Wireless Connection

1. Click on the Start button and select Connect To from the menu on the right to display the Connect to a network dialog box.


2. The list of available networks will depend on the types of wireless networks detected, such as infrastructure mode or ad hoc mode networks. If you see the name of your Network, double click it to proceed to the next screen. If you see other Networks in the list, they are probably your neighbors…hopefully they are all secured just like yours!

If you do not see your Network, follow the steps described below for Manually Setup A Wireless Connection below.


3. Enter Security Key or passphrase: (from the information found from your router or access point). Check Display Characters to view  characters/numbers being typed. Click Connect to continue to next step.


4. At the next screen, Vista will attempt to connect to your wireless router or access point. Once the connection is established, you will be prompted to save your connection by checking the Save this network and Start this connection automatically boxes.


Click Close. You will now be connected to the wireless network.

Manually Setup A Wireless Connection

1. Click on the Start button and select Connect To from the menu on the right to display the Connect to a network dialog box.


2. The list of available networks will depend on the types of wireless networks detected, such as infrastructure mode or ad hoc mode networks. If you do not see your network in the list, or if no networks can be found, Vista displays Windows cannot find any networks, then your Wi-Fi router may be set for non-broadcast mode. If this is the case, select Setup a connection or network.


3. On the Choose a connection option page, six options are available. Select the Manually connect to a wireless network option, then click Next.


4. The Wizard displays the following:


In the Enter information for the wireless network you want to add … page, configure the following using the above information you obtain from your wireless network or access point:

A) Network name (SSID)

B) Security type (used to authenticate a connection to a wireless network). Choices are dependent on the capabilities of your wireless network adapter:

  • No authentication (Open) Open system authentication with no encryption
  • WEP Open system authentication with Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)
  • WPA-Personal Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) with a preshared key (also known as a passphrase)
  • WPA-Enterprise WPA with IEEE 802.1X authentication
  • WPA2-Personal WPA2 with a preshared key
  • WPA2-Enterprise WPA with IEEE 802.1X authentication
  • 802.1x IEEE 802.1X authentication with WEP (also known as dynamic WEP)

NOTE: The shared key authentication method is not listed. Microsoft strongly discourages its use since it provides weak security for your wireless network. To configure shared key authentication, select No authentication (Open) below in step C.

C) Encryption Type (enabled if using WPA or WPA2, select either AES or TKIP).

  • When the No authentication (Open) security type is selected, None is selected.
  • When the WEP security type is selected, WEP is selected.
  • When the WPA-Personal, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Personal, WPA2-Enterprise security type is selected, choose either TKIP or AES
  • When the WEP (802.1x) security type is selected, WEP is selected.

D) Security Key/Passphrase (check Display Characters to view characters/numbers being typed)

E) Check Start this connection automatically (tells Vista to automatically connect to this wireless network)

F) Check Connect even if this network is not broadcasting

Click Next

5. At the next screen click on Connect to…


You have now successfully connected to your Wireless network (click Cancel to close).

You should see your connection in the System Tray (double monitor icon).

When you mouse over the connection, it will display your current connection. Right clicking the connection and selecting properties will allow you to select different options such as the Network and Sharing Center.


The Network and Sharing Center is the nerve center for you networking tasks. From here you can view all network connection information and make any changes when needed. On the left pane, selecting Manage wireless networks will allow you to make any changes to the connection you just set up (after clicking Manage wireless networks, right click the connection and select properties).

Selecting Manage network connections will display all network adapters installed on your System. Double clicking on any adapters will display the properties window allowing you to fully manage the adapter and the network connection.

Select Diagnose and repair if you experience problems with your adapter or network connection.

What If I STILL Can't Connect To My Wireless Router?

Sometimes things don't always work smoothly when you want them to. The same is true when it comes to troubleshooting wireless connection problems.

If you are having connectivity issues, check out Why Won't My PC Connect To My Wireless Router for some additional troubleshooting tips.

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Dylan Austin


Whenever I have a problem, I sing. Then I realize my voice is worse than my problem.

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