Connecting to a Hidden Wireless Network in Windows 8.1

WiFi networks are everywhere and if there’s one thing that can describe our generation today then it would probably be something like “The WiFi Age”. With all the devices and gadgets that are now capable of connecting to wireless networks and the Internet which is already starting to be offered for free in some countries, it is almost impossible to be in a certain location without ever detecting a single WiFi network broadcasting its signal.

Connecting to a WiFi network has also evolved from a complicated process to an easier one and as devices that run the same operating system- from smartphones to tablets down to desktop computers, laptops and hybrids became popular in the market, the way of connecting to wireless network just got even simpler.

But what if a wireless network has been hidden intentionally by its administrator? Will you still be able to connect to it? If so, what are the steps involved. In this tutorial, we will be answering all of these questions and give even more information that has to do in dealing with Wireless networks on your Windows 8.1 machine so be sure to read this article from top to bottom to learn some things that will surely help you get connected to the Internet even in the midst of hidden wireless networks.

Viewing Available Networks in Your Windows 8.1 Computer

One of the basic things that you need to learn when using your Windows machine is viewing the available Wireless networks that it detects. In Windows 8.1, doing this is quite simple and the steps involved is the same as that in Windows 7 but the screen that appears is totally different.

To do this, you will simply need to click on the Network status indicator icon that is located on the system tray as shown on the screenshot below.


After the icon is clicked, a modern style screen will slide-in from the right edge which lists all available networks that you’ve been connected to and as well as the ones that are currently available. You will also see the “Airplane mode” switch at the top portion of this screen which will allow you to turn off all wireless communication adapters whenever you’re travelling on an airplane.


Turning the WiFi Adapter On or Off

When the Airplane mode switch is flicked to the “Off” position, all wireless communication adapters are turned off which includes WiFi, Bluetooth and others depending on your laptop model. However, if you only want to get the wireless network adapter turned off and just leave the Bluetooth adapter turned on then there’s an easy way to do it. To start, you will need to again access the modern screen that shows all your network connections plus the Airplane mode switch by clicking on the “Network status” icon located on the System Tray as we have shown above.

After doing so, the modern “Networks” screen will appear once again and from here, all you need to do is flick the switch that is located under the “Wi-Fi” section and your machine’s wireless network adapter will instantly be switched off. It’s as simple as that, no pressing of keyboard combinations and other special buttons although you can also use these methods in case they are available on the laptop model that you are using.


What if a Wireless Network is Hidden?

The available wireless networks that are listed on the “Networks” screen whenever you click on the Network Status indicator icon on the system tray are not really the complete ones. They are not everything yet because there are WiFi administrators who choose to hide their SSID (Service Set Identifier) to make their networks a lot more secure.

It is impossible to connect to a hidden WiFi network but if you know the administrator, you can ask for the SSID/Network name and other security details of the network itself, you can still connect to it and that’s what we’ll show you in the next part of this tutorial. To start, you will need to access the “Network and Sharing Center” Window of the Control Panel. To do this, simply right-click on the Network Status indicator icon located on the System Tray.


After right-clicking the icon, there will be a menu that will appear and from here, you will need to click on the option that says “Open Network and Sharing Center” as shown on the screenshot above. Once the Network and Sharing Center Window opens, you will simply need to click on the link that says “Set up a new connection of network”.


Now, the “Set up a Connection or Network” wizard will initialize and show different options, from these options, you will simply need to click on the third one that says “Manually connect to a wireless network” then hit the “Next” button at the bottom-right portion of the Window.


On the Window that follows, you will need to enter the security details about the network that the network administrator has given you. In case you don’t have these details yet, be sure to ask it from the administrator. The information that you would need are the “Network name or SSID”, the “Security type” and the “Security key” and you will need to fill these details into the designated boxes found on the “Manually connect to a wireless network” Window as shown below.


After the right network details are entered, you will simply need to check “Start this connection automatically” and uncheck the “Connect even if the network is not broadcasting” option. Once you’re done, just hit the “Next” button that is found at the bottom-right portion of the Window as highlighted above so you can proceed on to the final step.


The next Window will then show a message telling you if the network has been added successfully or not. If you see that the network has been added successfully, you will simply need to click on the “Close” button at the bottom-right portion of the Window as shown above and you should now be connected to the hidden network in case it is within your range.

Now, in case the network is within range but you failed to connect to it and you don’t see that the network status indicator has full bars or at least 1 or 2 bars (in case you’re quite far from the WiFi router) then the security details (SSID, Security type and Security key) might be wrong so you will need to change it by clicking on the “Change connection settings” link as shown below.


After the link is clicked, a small Window labeled “<Network name> Wireless Connection Properties” will appear and from here, you will simply need to click on the “Security” tab on top to enter the section where you can change the details of the hidden wireless network such as the “Security type” and “Network security key”.


In most cases, it is the “Network security key” that has some errors so you will need to check the “Show characters” box in order to unmask the characters inside the “Network security key” box and make sure that everything is correct. Once you are done, simply hit the “OK” button and see if you can now connect to the hidden wireless network. Again, you will know that you are already connected if the Network Status indicator icon on the system tray already has at least 2, 3, 4 or 5 bars of signal depending on your distance from the WiFi router that your computer is connected to.