More and more computers have wireless capabilities built-in, especially laptops and tablets. The trouble is, it's not always obvious if your system can surf the Wi-Fi waves straight out of the box or if you need to buy an extra adapter. Our guide will show you where to look to check for built-in wireless devices, and also what to look for to see if your system has the wireless functions turned on.

The Knowhow:

Does your computer have a Wireless Adapter?

Windows Computers:

  • Navigate to the Network Connections window
  • In XP and Vista this is located in the Settings menu, found when clicking the Start button
  • In Windows 7, type Network into the text bar after clicking the Start button and select Network and Sharing Centre

This window lists all the types of connection you can have. If there is no Wireless option, your system does not have Wi-Fi.

OS X Computers:

All current Apple computers have built-in Wireless capabilities.

Is your computer picking up a Wireless signal?

Your system will show you an icon displaying the status of its Wi-Fi connection. From the number of bars in the icon you will be able to see how strong the signal is.

Note: Some devices, such as certain tablets, will only display this icon when connected to a wireless network.

If you are connected, the icon should look similar to the ones below:

wireless signal on windows Wi-Fi signal icon

Using the icon to spot problems with the connection

Your Wi-Fi icon may display a number of additional status indicators.


  • Yellow Circle: The computer is not connected to a wireless network
  • Red X: The computer's wireless functions are turned off
  • Yellow triangle: There is a problem with the wireless card or signal


  • "Empty" icon: The wireless functions are turned off
  • "Pale" icon: The wireless functions are working but not connected to a network
  • "X" icon: There is an error with the wireless software or hardware
  • "!" icon: There's a problem with the connection

Fixing problems:

We have a number of articles to help you resolve any issues you're having with your wireless signal. For problems with:

Updated On:

Aug 06, 2012

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