Computers

Your guide to Wi-Fi Sense

How to share networks and connect to shared networks with Windows 10's Wi-Fi Sense feature.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Windows 10's new Wi-Fi Sense feature -- which is designed to make it easier to share network credentials without giving up your Wi-Fi password -- isn't my favorite thing. But it can be a convenient way to get credentials around quickly, assuming you trust your Outlook, Skype, and Facebook contacts.

Wi-Fi Sense does two things: It lets you share your Wi-Fi network's login credentials with your contacts, and it lets you connect to networks shared by your contacts. This can be useful if you frequently change the password to a network that's used by a large number of people (though enterprise networks using 802.1X can't be shared), or if you want to allow people to access the Internet without giving up your password -- assuming all of those people have Windows 10 and have Wi-Fi Sense enabled. Here's how to make it happen:

Turn Wi-Fi Sense on

If you set up your computer using Windows 10's Express settings, Wi-Fi Sense is turned on by default. This means that you'll be able to see and connect to any Wi-Fi networks shared by your friends; it does not mean that Wi-Fi networks you connect to will be shared by default.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

If you didn't set up your computer using Express settings, you can turn Wi-Fi Sense on in the Settings menu. Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi and click Manage Wi-Fi Settings.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To turn Wi-Fi Sense on, toggle Connect to networks shared by my contacts to on. Here, you can also set up which of your contacts will receive any Wi-Fi info you decide to share, by checking (or un-checking) the boxes next to Outlook.com contacts, Skype contacts, and Facebook friends.

If you choose to share networks with Facebook friends, you will need to click Wi-Fi Sense needs permission to use your Facebook account and log in to your Facebook account to give Windows permission.

Share a network

Even if you have Wi-Fi Sense turned on, networks you connect to are not automatically shared with your contacts. To share a network, you'll need to go into the Wi-Fi Sense menu and manually share it - by retyping the password.

To do this, go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi and click Manage Wi-Fi Settings. At the bottom of the page, you'll see a section called Manage known networks. In this section, you'll see all your 'known' Wi-Fi networks - networks you've connected to in the past.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To share a specific network with your contacts, click the name of the network and then click Share.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

You will need to type in the network's password and click Share again. Once you do this, that network's log-in information will be shared with your contacts in encrypted form -- nobody will see the password, but they will be able to automatically connect to that Wi-Fi network if they are in range.

Prevent people from sharing your network

While Wi-Fi Sense requires that you manually choose to share each network with contacts (and re-enter the network's password), this "extra step" won't prevent your buddies from sharing your network info with their contacts. To make your network Wi-Fi-Sense-proof, check out this piece on how to kill Wi-Fi password sharing in Windows 10.