Lost Your Wi-Fi Password? Here‘s 5 Failsafe Ways to Recover It

Have you ever changed that pesky router password to something more secure, only to instantly forget what exactly you changed it to? Or perhaps you moved into a new place, took a quick pic of the Wi-Fi deets on the back of the router and almost immediately lost it.

We‘ve all been there. But thankfully, Windows has great built-in tools to view and recover your lost internet access, as long as your PC was connected to that network previously.

In this detailed guide, I‘ll walk you through 5 easy methods to find your missing Wi-Fi network password on a Windows 10 computer.

An Overview of Wi-Fi Passwords

A Wi-Fi password (also called a network security key, wireless password or WPA/WPA2 passphrase) is an important string of characters that devices need to provide in order to access your wireless network.

Here‘s a quick rundown of some Wi-Fi password basics:

  • Randomly auto-generated by most modern routers upon setup
  • Usually a mixture of numbers, letters and symbols between 8 and 63 characters long
  • Can be manually changed by the network owner at any time
  • Needs to be shared with any devices wanting to access that Wi-Fi network (guests‘ phones, laptops, tablets, etc)
  • Should be updated now and then for security reasons

So why might you need to suddenly find or recover your Wi-Fi password?

  • Got a new device but lost the original router password details needed
  • Recently changed your home Wi-Fi password and now can‘t remember that new version
  • Moved somewhere new and took a bad router pic or lost the sticky note
  • Want to share network access with someone but forgot what your current password is
  • Need to change or update your aging Wi-Fi password for better security

Not to worry – Windows stores all Wi-Fi network names and passwords you connect to right on your PC. So let‘s learn how to easily view and copy your missing Wi-Fi details.

Method #1: Using Network Settings

Windows collects tons of useful data about the networks you connect to. Through the Network & Sharing Center, you can access all sorts of info – including Wi-Fi passwords!

Let me quickly walk through how to find your Wi-Fi password using just your network settings.

Access Network Connections

Click on the start menu or taskbar search box and type in "Control Panel". Open up the Control Panel app.

Next, click on "Network and Sharing Center" under the "Network and Internet" section:

Network and Sharing Center in Control Panel

This will open your computer‘s network dashboard.

Note: If you‘re using Windows 8 or 10, simply search for "Network Connections" instead.

View Wireless Network Properties

Under "Active Networks", click on the Wi-Fi network you want the password for.

Then click "Wireless Properties" in the pop-up status window:

Wi-Fi Status dialog box

Pro Tip: Having connection issues? Use the "Diagnose" button on this screen to troubleshoot problems.

Show Characters to Reveal Password

A properties window will open for your wireless network. Go to the "Security" tab.

Finally, check the box next to "Show characters" to reveal your Wi-Fi network security key (password)!

This displays the exact password needed to reconnect your device or log in as a new device on that Wi-Fi network. Simply copy it down somewhere safe once you‘re done.

This method even shows passwords for Wi-Fi networks you have forgotten about or are currently disconnected from! As long as Windows remembers it, you can view the credentials through these network settings.

Next, let‘s look at accessing your passwords using a hidden developer tool in Windows.

Method #2: Using the Run Command

Beyond the standard Windows settings and menus, there‘s a shortcut terminal known as the Run command. It gives quick access to hidden tools and technical settings in Windows.

Here‘s how to use the Run command box to effortlessly view your Wi-Fi login details:

Open the Run Terminal

Press the Windows key + R on your keyboard. This opens a small "Run" dialogue box.

Type in ncpa.cpl and press Enter:

Run dialogue box

Pro Tip: If you have a strong password consider storing it in a password manager app to avoid future headaches.

Open Network Connections

The command will open up the Network Connections control panel, showing all your active internet connections, including Wi-Fi.

Double-click on the Wi-Fi network you need the password for. This will open a connection status window.

View Wireless Properties and Security Tab

Just like with Method #1, click the "Wireless Properties" button followed by the "Security" tab.

Finally, tick "Show characters" to reveal that network‘s Wi-Fi password!

The Run command technique works great if for some reason you can‘t access the control panel or network settings area.

Up next, let‘s look at a more hacker-esque approach!

Method #3: Using PowerShell Terminal

This next technique feels straight out of a movie hacker scene!

We‘ll be using the hidden developer console called PowerShell to display not only your current Wi-Fi password but passwords stored for every Wi-Fi network you‘ve ever connected to on this device!

Time to channel your inner computer wizard!

Access Powershell Terminal

Type "PowerShell" into the Windows search box and right-click on the Best Match. Select "Run as Administrator". This gives full access to system data.

If you‘re using Windows 11, search for the Terminal app instead and again open as Admin.

PowerShell terminal as admin

List All Wireless Profiles

First, type netsh wlan show profiles in PowerShell terminal to list all stored Wi-Fi networks:

Profile name                : WiFiNetworkName

Profile name                : MyOtherNetwork

Show Password for a Network

Copy the exact name of the Wi-Fi network you need the password for.

Then run:

netsh wlan show profile name="YourWiFiName" key=clear

Replace YourWiFiName with the exact name from the list.

netsh show password command

The Wi-Fi password will then be displayed under Key Content!

This technique shows the password for literally any and every Wi-Fi network you have ever connected to on this Windows device.

Warning: Be extremely careful with such powerful tools! Use them only on your own devices and don‘t randomly try to access other networks without permission!

Alright, let‘s move onto some password recovery software options.

Method #4: Using Password Recovery Tools

If command terminals aren‘t your style, several excellent software tools make viewing your stored Wi-Fi passwords a breeze.

Here are two 100% free options I recommend:


WirelessKeyView is an awesome tiny utility that shows you all your Wi-Fi login details, including the network name (SSID), password, type of authentication used, and more.

You can even view passwords for wireless networks that aren‘t currently available!

It also lets you easily copy credentials to the clipboard, or export keys as a file. Super handy for backups, setting up new devices quickly, troubleshooting, and of course, recovering lost passwords!

WirelessKeyView software

SterJo Wireless Passwords

Very similar to WirelessKeyView, SterJo is another well-designed freeware tool for revealing stored Wi-Fi passwords.

It has options for exporting to a printer or file, copying passwords to your clipboard, and shows info like network names (SSID), password keys, authentication modes (WEP, WPA, WPA2) and more.

Both these utilities work by scanning your computer‘s wireless network interface hardware for any stored credentials it can access.

I‘d recommend playing around with both free tools to see which you prefer!

Method #5: Check Your Physical Router

Let‘s go old school for our final technique!

One super simple way to find your Wi-Fi network password is to well…literally look at your router.

Many ISP provided routers actually have the default Wi-Fi password printed right on them, usually on a small sticker or piece of paper.

Here‘s an example showing the network name, password, and encryption details:

WiFi router sticker

Similarly, if you manually changed your admin credentials but forgot what chaotic jumble you switched it to, there might just be an untouched backup sticker still chilling as a failsafe.

Warning: Don‘t go randomly unplugging your roommates‘ router now! But for your own network, no harm in carefully taking a quick peek.

This method totally depends on your router model having easily accessible credentials, but hey, it‘s worth checking as a last resort!

Comparing Your Password Recovery Options

MethodDifficultyNetworks RevealedWorks if Forgotten
Network SettingsEasyCurrent/PastYes
Run CommandMediumCurrent/PastYes
Password SoftwareEasyCurrent/PastYes
Physical RouterEasyCurrentRarely

So in summary:

  • Easiest options are using existing network settings, password recovery software or checking your router physically
  • Run command line works great but requires some extra tech knowledge
  • PowerShell reveals literally every password but also demands advanced technical skills

No matter which method you pick, Windows almost always has your back storing lost Wi-Fi credentials!

I hope this guide has given you a helpful overview of the range options available right on your computer. Online life resumes shortly!

Final Thoughts

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Video demonstrating how to view Wi-Fi passwords on Windows

Recovering lost Wi-Fi passwords thankfully couldn‘t be much simpler on Windows.

With so many built-in tools provided, from easy settings panels to powerful command line terminals, getting back online takes just minutes. Plus the bonus options of third party software and physical router checks as backup.

While remembering strong randomly generated passwords becomes nigh impossible these days, at least we have quick solutions right on our main device.

I highly suggest taking a quick photo of your Wi-Fi & router admin details from now, just in case disaster strikes again down the road! Prevention is the best medicine as they say.

Hope you found this guide helpful. Now get on out there and reconnect with the world! Let me know if you have any other issues getting your devices happily communicating again.

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