You can connect your laptop to the Internet through a Wi-Fi connection if you have a wireless router connected to broadband Internet and an operating system that fully supports wireless networking, such as Windows 7, Vista or XP. Here's what to do:

  1. Temporarily plug a network cable into your laptop and wireless router. When your computer is on, it should automatically connect to the router [source: Microsoft].
  2. Open Internet Explorer and type in the URL address of your wireless router to access the configuration page. In general, the default address will probably be 192.168.0.1, 192.168.1.1, or 192.168.2.1 [source: Microsoft]. Check your router's owner's manual for more help.
  3. Enter your username and password when prompted. Many routers use the term admin as a default for both [source: Microsoft]. Again, check your router's manual if you don't know the default username and password.
  4. Pick a name, also called an SSID, for your network, once you access your router's configuration page. Try to think of an original name that will distinguish your Wi-Fi from your neighbors'.
  5. Choose the type of security you want. WPA and WPA2 are more secure than WEP, but not all devices support WPA2. Create a unique password for your network. There will be hints on your router configuration page to tell you how to set up a password. Make sure to keep a hard copy of your password hidden somewhere in case you forget it [source: Microsoft].
  6. Locate and click on the Internet icon, for Windows 7 and Vista, in the notification area of Windows on your laptop. The icon will resemble a signal meter, like you would see on a cell phone [source: Windows]. For Windows XP, open your Control Panel and select Network Connections. Right click on the Wireless Network Connection icon and choose View Available Wireless Networks [source: MSU]. Choose the wireless network you just set up and enter your password [source: Windows]. //]]]]> ]]>