For many people, having access to wireless internet is a major convenience. If you’re away from home and don’t have an Ethernet cable handy, your mobile device will have no problem connecting to the internet via a wireless network until you get back to your home base. If you only have a laptop and no Ethernet cable, you’ll have to connect to a WiFi network without a cable until you can get home to fetch one. It may seem like a small thing, but if you’re not already connected to the internet you may as well know how so you can reconnect when you get back home.
Check Your Device
The first step to connecting to the internet when you only have a laptop is to make sure the computer is set up to connect to WiFi. Find the network the computer connects to and check that it is enabled on the device’s WiFi menu. If you’ve left it set to auto-connect your device will attempt to connect to available networks every time it is turned on.
If you notice that your device is searching for networks without finding any it’s possible that the networks are disabled or turned off on the device. This is why it’s important to check that the networks your computer connects to are enabled on the device and not just the computer itself.
Find the Network Your Computer Can Connect To
The second step is to find the network your computer can connect to. Sometimes you can find this out by visiting the network’s login page and looking for the SSID (or network name) that ends with “free”. Sometimes the network is marked with a sign or sticker that says “wireless network”.
If the network is hidden or unknown, you can manually look up the SSID by opening your computer’s WiFi settings and looking for the network name in the list. If you connect to this network you’ll see the login page for the network.
Some networks are publicly listed and you can find them by Googling the network’s name and “open”. This will usually lead you to a website listing the network’s name and SSID. If you only know a few networks in your area and don’t know the SSID, this is usually a good place to start.
How to Get Around Without a Cable
If you’re lucky enough to live in a densely populated area with lots of networks, you can get around without a cable by using a device called a “dongle”. A dongle is a small device that connects to a USB port on your computer. The dongle converts the USB port into a WiFi antenna that allows you to connect to unsecured networks.
There are lots of different dongles on the market, but the most popular is probably the “Tether Dongle”. It connects to the computer with a USB cable, and the other end is a mini-USB plug that connects to the computer.
If you are lucky enough to only have to rely on a dongle, it won’t work if you only have a single USB port. You’ll have to find a way to connect your computer to two or more ports. You can use an extension cable, a USB hub, or even a Bluetooth dongle.
Connect to a Different Network
If you want to connect to a different network, your best option is to find the SSID of the network you want and manually connect to that network. You can usually do this by searching the SSID on Google and opening the first link listed. If you don’t get the network login page, try a different search term to narrow down your results.
If you cannot find the network you want, or think you might have missed it, you can also try manually connecting to the network your computer can connect to. You may need to connect to the computer’s WiFi settings to see the computer’s current wireless network name.
Connect to an Ethernet Cable
If you’ve already tried everything else, it’s time to get an Ethernet cable and reconnect to the internet. It’s worth noting that you may be able to get by with only using a WiFi network for a short time. If you’re only away from home for a week or two, or if you have a friend who will let you use their Internet connection when you need it, you can probably survive without an Ethernet cable.
The best way to get an Ethernet cable is to ask your Internet service provider if they offer one. Some ISPs will give you a physical Ethernet cable that goes to a port on your wall or close to your modem. Even if your ISP doesn’t offer this option, you can ask your local electronics store if they have any adaptors that let you connect Ethernet cables to an outlet.
The best way to connect your laptop to WiFi when you only have a cable is to get an Ethernet cable, connect your laptop to an Ethernet port, and then connect to a WiFi network manually. If you can’t get to an Ethernet port or you are out of time, a dongle may work. However, if an Ethernet cable is available you may be able to get by with just using the WiFi network for a short time. Be sure to shutdown, unplug, and shutdown your computer when you aren’t using it so you don’t create more work for yourself when you get back home.