Connect Your iPad to a Wi-Fi Network

The cellular-enabled iPad or iPad mini automatically connects to cellular networks. However, things aren’t automatic when it comes to wireless network connections — which iOS refers to as Wi- Fi connections. As soon as you try to access something on the Internet — a website, your e-mail, a map, or whatever — your tablet scours the surrounding airwaves for Wi-Fi network signals.

If you’ve never connected to a Wi-Fi network or if you’re in an area that doesn’t have any Wi-Fi networks you’ve used in the past, you see the Select a Wireless Network dialog, as shown here.

If you’re just starting out on the Wi-Fi trail, your iPad or iPad mini displays a list of nea
If you’re just starting out on the Wi-Fi trail, your iPad or iPad mini displays a list of nearby networks.

This dialog displays a list of the Wi-Fi networks that are within range. (If you don’t see the Select a Wireless Network dialog, you can still connect to a wireless network.) For each network, you get the following three tidbits of data:

  • Network name. This is the name that the administrator has assigned to the network. If you’re in a coffee shop or similar public hotspot and you want to use that network, look for the name (or a variation thereof) of the shop.

  • Password-protection. If a Wi-Fi network displays a lock icon, it means the network is protected by a password and you need to know that password to make the connection.

  • Signal strength. This icon gives you a rough idea of how strong the wireless signals are. The stronger the signal (the more bars you see, the better the signal), the more likely you are to get a fast and reliable connection.

Follow these steps to connect to a Wi-Fi network:

  1. Tap the network you want to use. If the network is protected by a password, your iPad or iPad mini prompts you to type it, as shown in this figure.

  2. Use the keyboard to type the password.

  3. Tap Join. The tablet connects to the network and adds the Wi-Fi network signal strength icon to the status bar.

    If the Wi-Fi network is secured with a password, you type it in this screen.
    If the Wi-Fi network is secured with a password, you type it in this screen.

To connect to a commercial Wi-Fi operation — such as those you find in airports, hotels, and convention centers — you almost always have to take one more step. In most cases, the network prompts you for your name and either a password or credit card data so you can be charged for accessing the network.

If you’re not prompted right away, you will be as soon as you try to access a website or check your e-mail. Type your information and then enjoy the Internet in all its Wi-Fi glory.

Because the password box shows dots instead of the actual text for added security, this is no place to demonstrate your touchscreen speed-typing prowess. Slow and steady wins the password-typing race (or something).