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Set Up Windows 8 to Connect to a Network

First, a word to the wired crowd: If you’ve chosen to connect a computer to your router with a cable, plug one end of the cable into your computer’s network port. Plug the cable’s other end into one of your router’s network ports. (The ports are usually numbered; any number will do.) Then repeat with the other computer’s cables.

If your Internet company didn’t do it for you, plug a cable from your broadband modem’s LAN or Ethernet port into your router’s WAN port.

Turn on your router, and you’ve finished: You’ve discovered how easy it is to create a wired network.

Wireless is a different story. After you set up your router to broadcast your network wirelessly, you must tell Windows 8 how to receive it. Here’s how to connect to your own network:

  1. Summon the Charms bar and click the Settings icon.

    You can tackle this step, which brings up the Start screen’s Settings pane, in a couple of ways:

    • Press Windows+I to head straight for the Charms bar’s Settings pane. Mouse owners can point at the screen’s top- or bottom-right edge; when the Charms bar appears, click the Settings icon.

    • If you’re a touchscreen user, slide your finger inward from the screen’s right edge; when the Charms bar appears, tap the Settings icon.

  2. Click the network icon near the bottom of the Settings pane.

    The network icon changes shape depending on your surroundings and connection method:

    • Available (wireless): When the icon says Available, you’re within range of your wireless network. Start salivating and move to Step 3.

    • Unavailable (wireless): When the icon says Unavailable, you’re out of range of a wireless network. Move closer to your router until the icon says Available.

    • Connected (wired): This icon means the cable is correctly connected between the router and the computer.

    • Unavailable (wired): The cable isn’t connected correctly, or the router hasn’t had time to detect the connected computer.

    If you’ve connected a wired network, and the icon shows Available, your network is up and running. If it’s listed as Unavailable, turn off your router, modem, and computer. Then turn on your modem, router, and computer, in that order, waiting a minute before turning on the next one.

  3. Click the Wireless Available icon.

    Windows sniffs the airwaves and then lists the names of all the wireless networks within range of your computer, including, hopefully, your own. (Your network will be the name — the SSID — that you chose when setting up your router, described in the previous section.)

  4. Choose the desired wireless network by clicking its name and then clicking the Connect button.

    If you select the adjacent Connect Automatically check box before clicking the Connect button, Windows automatically connects to that network the next time you’re within range, sparing you from following all these steps again.

  5. Enter a password.

    Here’s where you type in the same password you entered into your router when setting up your wireless network.

    Or, if your router model allows it, you can press a button on the router to bypass the password and connect immediately.

  6. Choose whether you want to share your files with other people on the network.

    When you see this question in Step 6, you know you’ve successfully set up your wireless network. All your networked computers should now have Internet access. Congratulations!

  7. 7Because you’re connecting at home and not in a public place, select the option labeled Yes, Turn on Sharing and Connect to Devices.

    That lets you share files and printers with others on the network.

If you’re still having problems connecting, try the following tips:

  • Cordless phones and microwave ovens interfere with wireless networks, oddly enough. Try to keep your cordless phone out of the same room as your wireless computer, and don’t heat up that sandwich when web browsing.

  • While you’re working on the Windows 8 desktop, the taskbar’s wireless network icon provides a handy way to connect wirelessly, as well. If your desktop’s taskbar contains a wireless network icon, click it to jump to Step 3.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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