How to Find Your Wi-Fi Password
So you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network from way back when, but you can’t remember what the password is. Whether you’ve changed the default password or not, it’s simple to find it. You can look up any Wi-Fi network password if you’ve previously connected to that network from your computer or phone.
First: Check Your Router’s Default Password
If your router is still using the default username and password, it should be easy to find. Modern Wi-Fi routers–and the combined router/modem units offered by many Internet service providers–come with a default Wi-Fi network name and password. Each router has its own default password, which is often random.
To find the default password, find your Wi-Fi router and examine it. You should see a sticker somewhere on it that contains both the “SSID”–the wireless network name–and the password. If you haven’t changed the default password yet, you can use that password to connect to the router.
If you don’t see a default password printed on the router itself, try looking at the documentation that came with the router for more information.
What if you don’t have the manual or the password isn’t on the router sticker? As we mentioned in our guide to resetting your router’s password, you might be able to find the password by using common username and password combinations (e.g., “admin” for the username and “admin” for the password) or consulting RouterPasswords.com, a database of popular routers’ default logins.
Once you’ve connected to your router using the default password, make sure you change it and store the password in your password manager so your router is secure.
How to Find the Current Wi-Fi Network’s Password on Windows
If you’ve connected to a Wi-Fi network from a Windows laptop or desktop PC, Windows will remember that Wi-Fi network’s password. You can look up the Wi-Fi password on any Windows computer that’s currently connected to–or has previously connected to–that Wi-Fi network.
To look up the password for the Wi-Fi network you’re currently connected to on Windows, we’ll head to the Network and Sharing Center in the Control Panel. The quickest way to do this: Right-click on the Wireless Network icon in the taskbar and click “Open Network and Sharing Center.”
Click the name of the current Wi-Fi connection.
Click the “Wireless Properties” button in the Wi-Fi Status window that appears.
Click the “Security” tab and activate the “Show characters” checkbox to view the hidden password.
How to Find Passwords for Wi-Fi Networks You’ve Connected to Previously
Windows also stores the Wi-Fi password of networks you’ve connected to previously. In Windows 7 and earlier, you can find these from the Network and Sharing Center, but in Windows 8 and Windows 10, you’ll need to use the command prompt.
Find Passwords for Other Wi-Fi Networks in Windows 7 and Earlier
To get started, click the “Manage wireless networks” link in the left menu of the Network and Sharing Center.
You’ll see a list of the previous networks you’ve connected to. Double-click a network name to open the network’s properties.
In the network properties window, go to the Security tab and check the box next to “Show characters” to see the Wi-Fi password in the “Network security key” field.
Find Passwords for Other Wi-Fi Networks in Windows 8 and 10
In Windows 10 and 8.1, you’ll have to use the command prompt to find a previous network’s password. Right-click the Start button and select “Command Prompt” to quickly open it.
Then type in the following command:
netsh wlan show profiles
You’ll get a list of the Wi-Fi networks you’ve accessed before.
To find the password for one of the profiles, type in the following, replacing profilename with the name of the profile:
netsh wlan show profile name=profilename key=clear
Look for the “Key Content” line to find the Wi-Fi password for that Wi-Fi network.
How to Find the Password for Current or Previous Wi-Fi Networks on a Mac
If you have a Mac that’s currently connected to the Wi-Fi network or previously connected to it, you can also look up the password on that Mac.
To find the Wi-Fi password on your Mac, press Command+Space to open the Spotlight search dialog, type “Keychain Access” without the quotes, and press Enter to launch the Keychain Access app.
Locate the name of your Wi-Fi network in the list, click it, and then click the “info” button–it looks like an “i”–at the bottom of the window.
Click the “Show Password” checkbox in the window that appears. You’ll have to enter your username and password to gain access to the password. You’ll need an administrator account for this. Assuming your Mac account is an administrator account, just type your account’s username and password.
After you do, your Mac will show you the Wi-Fi network’s password.
How to Find a Wi-Fi Network’s Password on a Rooted Android Device
It’s not as easy to reveal the password for a Wi-Fi network on Android or iOS, but it is possible. Your Android device would need to be rooted, however.
First, download an alternative root-enabled file explorer, such as ES File Explorer. Launch the app and tap the menu button in the upper left-hand corner. Scroll down and slide the “Root Explorer” switch to “On”.
Grant it superuser access when prompted.
Then, in the left menu, go to Local > Device.
From there, browse to
data/misc/wifi and open the
wpa_supplicant.conf file in the file explorer’s text/HTML viewer.
Scroll down or search for the SSID to find the password for it, next to the term “psk”.
How to Find a Wi-Fi Network’s Password on a Jailbroken iPhone or iPad
The only way to reveal a Wi-Fi network’s password in iOS is to jailbreak your device first.
Open up the Cydia store and search for the WiFi Passwords tweak. Tap the Install button to install it. It’s compatible with iOS 6, 7, 8, and 9.
Once installed, open the app and you’ll be provided with a list of every Wi-Fi network you’ve connected to, along with their passwords. You can search for the network you’re looking for or scroll down to it.
How to Find a Wi-Fi Network’s Password from the Router’s Web Interface
Go to your router’s web interface and sign in with the current username and password your router requires. Look through the router’s interface for a “Wi-Fi” or similarly labeled section. You’ll see the current Wi-Fi password displayed on this screen, and you can also choose to change it to anything you want from here.
If All Else Fails: Reset Your Router to Its Default Wi-Fi Password
Look for a small “reset” button on the router. It’s often a pinhole button you’ll have to press with a bent paperclip or a similarly small object. Press the button down for ten seconds or so and your router’s settings will be completely erased and reset to their defaults. The Wi-Fi network name and password will be restored to the default ones on the router.
Not sure what your router’s Wi-Fi network name — or SSID — is? Just look at the Wi-Fi settings on any device connected to the Wi-Fi network and you’ll see the network name. If no devices are connected yet, you should see this information printed on the router itself or in the router’s documentation.
How to Hack Wi-Fi Passwords
Perhaps you forgot the password on your own network, or don’t have neighbors willing to share the Wi-Fi goodness. You could just go to a café and buy a latte and use the “free” Wi-Fi there. Download an app for your phone like WiFi-Map, and you’ll have a list of over 2 million hotspots with free Wi-Fi for the taking (including some passwords for locked Wi-Fi connections, if they’re shared by any of the app’s 7 million users).
But there are other ways to get back on the wireless, though some of them require such extreme patience and waiting, that café idea is going to look pretty good.
Reset the Router
Before you do this, just try to log into the router first. From there, you can easily reset your wireless password if you’ve forgotten it.
The problem is when you don’t know the password for the router, either. (They’re not the same thing, unless you set it up that way). Resetting the router is about as brute force a method as you get, and it only works if you have physical access to the router.
Almost every router in existence has a recessed reset button it. Push it with a pen or unfolded paperclip, hold it for about 10 seconds, and the router will change to the factory settings.
If you’ve got a router that came from your Internet service provider, check the stickers before a reset—they might have printed the router and Wi-Fi passwords (sometimes called the key) right on the hardware.
Once it’s reset, you need another password (plus a username) to access the router itself. Generally you can do this in a Web browser of any PC attached to the router via Ethernet—you’ll need that since the reset probably killed any potential Wi-Fi connection you had going in.
The URL to type is either 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1, or some variation. Once you’re asked for a username/password, what do you do? Check your manual. Which you probably lost or threw away. So instead, go to RouterPasswords.com. The site exists for one reason: to tell people the default username/password on just about every router ever created.
You’ll need the router’s model number, but that’s easy enough to find on the back or bottom. You’ll quickly see a pattern among router makers of having the username of admin and a password of password. Since most people are lazy and don’t change an assigned password, you could try it before hitting the reset button. (But c’mon, you’re better than that—change the password once you’re in the router’s menus in your Web browser.)
Once you’ve accessed the router interface, go to the Wi-Fi settings, turn on the wireless networks, and assign them strong but easy-to-recall passwords. After all, you don’t want to share with neighbors without your permission.
Crack the Code
You didn’t come here because the headline said “reset the router,” though. You want to know how to crack the password on a Wi-Fi network.
Searching on “wi-fi password hack,” or other variations, nets you a lot of links—mostly for software on sites where the adware and bots and scams are pouring like snake oil. Download them at your own risk, for Windows PCs especially. Better to have a PC that you can afford to get effed up a bit if you go that route. I had multiple attempts with tools I found just get outright deleted by my antivirus before I could even try to run the EXE installation file.
Or, create a system just for this kind of thing, maybe dual-boot into a separate operating system that can do what’s called “penetration testing”—a form of offensive approach security, where you examine a network for any and all possible paths of breach. Kali Linux is a Linux distribution built for just that purpose. You can run Kali Linux off a CD or USB key without even installing it to the hard drive. Another option is BackTrack Linux—they’re actually both from the same developers, but Kali is the “polished” version. Both are free and come with all the tools you’d need to crack a network.
If you don’t want to install a whole OS, then you could try the two tried-and-true tools of Wi-Fi hackers.
Aircrack has been around for years, going back to when Wi-Fi security was only based on WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy). WEP was weak even back in the day, and was supplanted in 2004 by WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). The latest Aircrack-ng 1.2—labeled as a “set of tools for auditing wireless networks,” so it should be part of any network admin’s toolkit—will take on cracking WEP and WPA-PSK keys.
Aircrack-ng comes with full documentation, but it’s not going to be that simple. To crack a network you also need to have the right kind of Wi-Fi adapter in your computer, one that supports packet injection. You need to be comfortable with the command line (running things using CMD) and have a lot of patience. Your Wi-Fi adapter and Aircrack have to gather a lot of data to get anywhere close to decrypting the passkey on the network you’re targeting. It could take a while.
If you prefer a graphical user interface (GUI), there is KisMAC-ng, or there was. The website was not working as of the writing of this article. While KisMAC can crack some keys with the right adapter installed, it’s mainly known as a “sniffer” for seeking out Wi-Fi networks. It’s the kind of thing we don’t need much of these days, since our phones and tablets do a pretty good job of showing us every since Wi-Fi signal in the air around us. Also on the Mac: Wi-Fi Crack. To use them or Aircrack-ng on the Mac, you need to install them using MacPorts, a tool for installing command-line products on the Mac.
Cracking stronger WPA/WPA2 passwords and passphrases is the real trick these days. Reaver is the one tool that looks to be up to the task (and it’s part of the BackTrack Linux distro). You’ll need that command-line comfort again to work with it, or you’ll have to spend $65 for Reaver Pro, a hardware device that works with Windows and Mac. After two to 10 hours of trying brute force attacks, Reaver should be able to reveal a password… but it’s only going to work if the router you’re going after has both a strong signal and WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) turned on. WPS is the feature where you can push a button on router, another button on a Wi-Fi device, and they find each other and link auto-magically, with a fully encrypted connection. It’s also the “hole” through which Reaver crawls. It can generally break the code in about 24 hours.
Even if you turn off WPS, sometimes it’s not completely off, but that’s your only recourse if you’re worried about hacks on your own router. Or, get a router that doesn’t support WPS.