How to Connect to a Free Public WiFi

Written by billy kirk
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How to Connect to a Free Public WiFi
Routers can cast public Wi-Fi signals accessible to all. (wlan router 04 image by pmphoto from Fotolia.com)

Free public Wi-Fi is an excellent Internet access solution that provides wireless, broadband access at no charge. Whether you have a Mac or PC, all you need is a computer equipped with an internal Wi-Fi card in order to join a public hot spot. Even if you lack such a card, using an external USB dongle attachment will also grant you access. No other tools or devices are necessary to enjoy free public Wi-Fi, and joining these hotspots requires no previous Wi-Fi knowledge.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Internal Wi-Fi card or external USB Wi-Fi dongle

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine whether you have an internal Wi-Fi card on board your computer. If you do, you are ready to scan for and join free public Wi-Fi networks. If you are unaware whether your computer has such a card, check the specifications of your machine listed with the manuals and documentation that originally shipped with it.

  2. 2

    Plug in and use an external Wi-Fi USB dongle if you do not have an internal Wi-Fi card on board. This dongle is fairly small in size and resembles a slightly oversized memory key. Ensure it is snug in any USB port on your computer, then restart your computer once it has detected the new hardware. You will be greeted with an on-screen message indicating hardware detection.

  3. 3

    Search for and click on the wireless network icon that is on your computer's desktop screen. Depending upon the operating system you run, you will find the icon in one of two places. In OS X on a Mac, this icon will be on the right hand side of the top desktop toolbar, beside the volume icon. In Windows you will find the icon on the right hand side of the bottom toolbar, positioned beside either utility icons.

  4. 4

    Look through the list of available networks that pops up once you click on the wireless network icon. This list is of all the networks in your area that you are in range of, both public and private. Clicking on a network name will either allow you to join immediately or present you with a dialogue box asking for a password. In the latter case, hit the "Cancel" button and back out to the network list. Try to join a network until you find a public Wi-Fi hot spot that is not password protected.

  5. 5

    Wait a few moments after clicking to join the free public Wi-Fi network. You should see your wireless icon update to indicate you've joined the hot spot. You may now surf the Internet using this connection.

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