How to Change Your Wi-Fi Network Name and Password
Changing your Wi-Fi network name and password is a simple and important way to keep your devices secure, but it can also be a bit daunting. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter if you have Xfinity, AT&T, or any other service provider—the steps to changing your Wi-Fi settings are the same. The process is also similar across different router manufacturers, like NETGEAR or TP-Link.
How to change your Wi-Fi password in four steps
The whole process of changing your Wi-Fi network name and password can be broken down into four main steps:
- Connect your device to your router.
- Log in to your router using a standard browser.
- Set up your wireless network.
- Test your new network configuration.
These steps are pretty simple, but there’s a bit of variation depending on various factors, like what kind of device you’re using to connect. Keep reading for a more detailed breakdown of these steps.
1. Connect to your router
The first step is to connect to your router so that you can access its settings.
Connect wirelessly or with a cable
If you’re setting up a new router for the first time, there’s usually an Ethernet cable in the box that will allow you to connect a device directly to your router. This is probably the easiest way to set things up, but sometimes this won’t work. Many slim laptops, like MacBooks, don’t have Ethernet ports, and sometimes it’s more convenient to use a phone or other mobile device.
To connect wirelessly, you’ll need the default network name and password for your router. These can be found in the instruction manual but are also sometimes found on the router itself, printed on a sticker or label. The network is often labeled as the “SSID.”
If you’re changing the settings on a network that’s already set up, you don’t need this default information and can just connect to the network with the name and password you typically use.
Find your router’s default IP address
Next, you’ll need the IP address for your router. There are several ways to do this, depending on what kind of device you’re using.
On a Windows machine, you can use the IPCONFIG command to get the IP address. To do this, follow these steps:
- Open the Command Prompt. This can be done by finding it in your Start Menu, by right-clicking on the Windows icon at the bottom of the screen, or by just searching for “Command Prompt.”
- Type the command “IPCONFIG” into the Command Prompt and press Enter.
- This will list all the Windows IP configuration information, but the only part we’re interested in is the Default Gateway, which should be four numbers separated by periods.
- Write that number down.
On a Mac, follow these instructions:
- Click the Apple icon, and select System Preferences.
- Select Network.
- Find and select your network, and then click Advanced at the bottom of the window.
- Under the TCP/IP tab, the IP address should be listed next to Router.
- Write that number down.
The steps are similar on an iOS device:
- Open Settings.
- Select Wi-Fi.
- Find your Wi-Fi network and select it.
- Scroll down to the IPV4 ADDRESS section, where the IP address is listed next to Router.
- Write that number down.
There are also a number of mobile apps, such as Network Analyzer, for analyzing networks, which make it easy to find the IP address of your router. Using an app is also a handy way to find your router’s IP address using an Android device.
2. Log in to your router using a browser
Now that you have the IP address of your router, you can access its settings using a standard web browser like Firefox or Chrome.
Navigate to your router’s IP address
In your browser’s address bar, type in the IP address of your router. This should take you to the control panel for your router, which should look like a web page.
Log in using your username and password
Accessing the actual settings requires you to log in to the router. If you haven’t previously set up a username and password, you must log in using the defaults. Different brands of routers have different default usernames and passwords, but they are usually very generic, in most cases being “admin” or “password.”
This information is often printed on a sticker somewhere on the router itself. Otherwise, refer to your router’s instructions to find the correct username and password, or go to the manufacturer’s website, which will often list them as well.
3. Set up your wireless network
Once you’re logged in to your router, you can change its settings. There are lots of settings that can be adjusted, but we’re going to focus on just two: your network name and password.
Change your network name
Your network name, often referred to as its SSID, is how people will see your network when they are searching for Wi-Fi networks on their devices. By default, this will usually be the name of the router manufacturer with some added numbers. You can change this to whatever you want, as long as it’s a name that you will easily recognize, especially if you’re in an urban area where there are many overlapping Wi-Fi networks.
Set up your network security
Once you’ve named your network, you want to secure it with a password so that passersby can’t steal your Wi-Fi or, worse, use your network to distribute malware to your devices.
Want to keep your home network secure? Check out the best home routers for security.
There are several options for security protocols, including simply leaving your network open, but the best option is WPA2, also known as WPA2-PSK or AES. This allows you to put a password on your network. As with any password you use frequently, make sure that it’s something you can remember. Also, it’s important not to use a password that you also use for important sites, especially if you’re going to be giving it out to guests who want to use your Wi-Fi.
4. Test your new network
Your Wi-Fi network name and password have now been updated. But before you pack up your laptop and go about your business, you should double-check to make sure everything’s working.
Test wireless connection
Grab a device and find your new network name in the list of available networks. Enter your new password to make sure you can connect wirelessly. It’s better to find out now than having to start the process all over again when you’re late for a Zoom meeting or two minutes away from winning an auction on eBay.
Reconnect other devices
Now that you’ve got a new network name and password, all the devices that were previously connected to your Wi-Fi network will need their information updated in order to connect. Remember that this doesn’t just include all your computers and mobile devices, but smart TVs, smart thermostats, security systems, and any other devices that use your Wi-Fi network to connect.
Author - Peter Christiansen
Peter Christiansen holds a PhD in Communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years, working as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.
Editor - Cara Haynes
Cara Haynes has edited for HighSpeedInternet.com for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.