How to Check if Your Computer is Wi-Fi Enabled

by C. Taylor

Most modern laptops and many desktops have integrated Wi-Fi capabilities already installed. Desktop computers may have a visible antenna on the back, but laptops rarely do. Therefore, it's often difficult to tell if your computer is Wi-Fi-enabled simply by looking at the hardware. However, inspecting your Windows settings will determine if you have a Wi-Fi adapter and if it’s currently enabled.

Look in the notification area of your Windows Taskbar. If you see five vertical bars, which indicate a wireless adapter, your computer is Wi-Fi-enabled. If a yellow asterisk appears over the bars, your computer is Wi-Fi-enabled, but not connected to a network. If a red "X" appears over the bars, your computer has wireless capabilities, but the adapter is currently disabled. Absence of this icon does not necessarily mean your computer does not have Wi-Fi capabilities.

Look on your laptop's keyboard for a radio antenna icon. This icon usually indicates a wireless adapter. Hold the "Fn" key and press the key housing this symbol. If an overlay image appears depicting a wireless signal, your computer has wireless capabilities. This overlay image should also indicate if the adapter is enabled or disabled. Pressing the key combination again will toggle the adapter's status.

Click the Start button, type "device manager" and click "Device Manager" from the search results. Double-click "Network Adapters" in Device Manager to expand this list and look for an entry labeled "Wireless" or "Wi-Fi." If you see such an entry, your computer is Wi-Fi-enabled. If a yellow exclamation point appears over the adapter's icon, you may need to reinstall or update the adapter's drivers.


  • If your computer is not Wi-Fi-enabled, plugging in a USB wireless adapter effortlessly adds wireless capabilities.

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