With the number of portable technology devices that can access the Internet wirelessly -commonly referred to as Wi-Fi-enables devices- increasing on a seemingly daily basis, there are more libraries and retail establishments offering free access to the Internet, called hotspots, than ever before. These hotspots allow you to connect your laptop or other Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as cell phones or portable gaming systems, to the establishment's wireless local area network. Once connected, you have access to and can browse the Internet, send and receive e-mails and perform other Internet dependent functions with your laptop.
Turn on your laptop computer when you are in range of a free Wi-Fi network.
Click the wireless network icon in your laptop computer's task bar, located in the bottom right-hand corner, near your clock. The icon looks like a small white staircase ascending from left to right. An "Open Network and Sharing Center" window will open.
Look at the available Wi-Fi networks in range, listed in the "Open Network and Sharing Center" window, click on the desired network and then click "Connect".
Choose "Public" if your computer asks you what type of network this new connection is. This tells your computer what type of security protocols to maintain while connected to the free Wi-Fi network.
Most free and publicly available Wi-Fi networks have names that you will recognise. For example, a public library may use the branch name as their network name and a retail establishment will likely use their branded name.
Keep in mind that free Wi-Fi networks are not secure; it is not recommended you complete any secure transactions (such as banking) while connected to a free Wi-Fi network.