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How To Manage Your WiFi Networks In Windows 7

How To Use Wireless Network Settings In Windows 7

With Windows 7, Microsoft vastly upgraded how Wireless Networks are handled.  If you consider the huge growth of wireless over the last 5 years it’s easy to understand why this upgrade was a shoe-in.  This groovy guide will show you the ropes for managing wireless networks with the new changes in Windows 7.

How To Manage Wireless Networks In Windows 7

If you have a wireless network card installed an icon will display in the windows system tray.  You can Click this icon to display available networks and quickly access the Network and Sharing Center.

manage networks from the windows 7 system tray

From the network and sharing center, the first stop is the wireless network management screen.  To get there Click Manage wireless networks from the left sidebar.

Alternatively, you can access this from the Start menu by Typing manage wireless into the search box and Clicking the Manage wireless networks control panel link.

manage wireless networks control panelormanage wireless networks start menu shortcut

Now we’re at the screen we want to be at, the control panel section titled Manage Wireless Networks.  Listed will be all of the wireless networks that Windows 7 has connected to and saved the connection data for.  From here you can do quite a few different things, just to list a few:

  • Adjust network priority by moving networks up or down on the list
  • Adjust adapter properties
  • Add new networks
  • Remove existing networks
  • Adjust profile types

If you have multiple users on your computer and security is an issue, the first thing you’ll want to do is Click Profile types and adjust the settings in there.

adjust wireless network settings

If security isn’t an issue the best option to choose would be “Use all-user profiles only (recommended)”.  It really depends on what network you are connecting to and the circumstances, but if you want to keep other users on your computer from accessing the same networks then set the profile type to “Use all-user and per-user profiles”.
manage windows 7 network profile type

Now we need to open up the Network and Sharing Center to adjust a few more settings.  You can get here by Clicking the back button on the window or just Click the Network and Sharing Center button.

open the network and sharing center from the wireless management screen

The Network and Sharing Center is really just the hub for your network management.  You can’t do much from this actual page, but it gives you access to all of your other network dialogs.  For example, if you connected to a wireless network but set the wrong type of access point or weren’t prompted – you can change that here.  To adjust how Windows treats the network you are connected to, Click the network type right under the network name.  In the example below, it says Public Network. change what type of network windows 7 thinks its connecting to

A new dialog will appear that will give three different network types to choose from.  Select the option that best describes it.  There is even a check box at the bottom if you want Windows to remember this selection and treat ALL new networks it finds as that type, though that feature should be left off unless you are going to be in the same spot for a LONG time.  Once you’re finished you’ll be brought back to the network and sharing center.

change the network type to home, work, or public

Now that we’ve assigned what type of network we are on, let’s customize how Windows 7 deals with all networks of this type.  To do this Click Change advanced sharing settings from the Network and Sharing Center.

change advanced sharin settings in windows 7

This is a huge step up from previous version of network in terms of wireless management.  From this advanced sharing settings window you can fully customize how Windows treats every network that you assign as a specific type.  This means that all public networks you connect to will use these settings, and the same goes for all home networks.  You won’t have to customize each connection, just assign each connection as home, work, or public.  Each setting has an accurate and detailed description next to it, so go through and customize them according to your needs.

Once you are done enabling or disabling each feature, don’t forget to Click Save Changes.

advanced windows sharing settings

Conclusion

That is really all there is to managing wireless networks in Windows 7.  It isn’t painfully complicated though at the same time it can seem like a maze, especially if you are coming from Windows XP.  Hopefully this groovy guide will help with understanding the basics of how wireless networking in Windows 7 functions.

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