So what is WiFi Sense…

WiFi Sense automatically connects you to WiFi, so that you can get online quickly in more places. It can connect you to open WiFi hotspots it knows about via crowdsourcing, or to WiFi networks your contacts have shared with you by using WiFi Sense.

Here are a few things to know to before you get started:
  • You need to be signed in with your Microsoft account to use WiFi Sense.

  • WiFi Sense is available on Windows 10 PCs, but not on earlier versions of Windows.

  • WiFi Sense isn’t available in all countries or regions.

What does WiFi Sense do?

WiFi Sense connects you to WiFi networks around you. It can do these things for you to get you Internet access:
  • Automatically connect you to open WiFi networks it knows about by crowdsourcing networks that other people using Windows have connected to. These are typically open WiFi hotspots that you see when you’re out and about.

  • Automatically connect you to WiFi networks that your Facebook friends, Outlook.com contacts or Skype contacts have shared with you after you’ve shared at least one network with your contacts. When you and your contacts share WiFi networks with each other, you give each other Internet access without having to tell each other your passwords. No networks are shared automatically. When you first connect to a network that you decide to share, you’ll need to enter the password, and then select the Share network with my contacts tick box to share that network.

The initial settings for WiFi Sense are determined by the options you chose when you first set up your PC with Windows 10 or your phone with Windows 10 Mobile. You can change your WiFi Sense settings any time by selecting Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Manage WiFi settings on your PC or Settings > Network & wireless > WiFi > WiFi Sense on your phone, and then changing one or both of these settings under WiFi Sense:
  • Connect to suggested open hotspots

  • Connect to networks shared by my contacts

Can WiFi Sense discover my location even if I have location turned off?

On your PC, location discovery depends on two settings in Settings > Privacy > Location:

  • The Location setting. This is for the user account.

  • The Location for this device setting. This is for the overall device. (Only administrator accounts have access to theLocation for this device setting.)

If Location is turned off for your user account but Location for this device is On, WiFi Sense can still discover your device location. However, if the Location for this device setting is Off, WiFi Sense can’t discover your device location. Turning off the Location for this device setting turns off location services for all user accounts on the device.

On your phone, WiFi Sense can’t discover your device location if you have Location turned off in Settings > Privacy > Location.

WiFi Sense uses your location to find suggested open WiFi hotspots.

What determines if WiFi Sense will automatically connect to open WiFi hotspots?

WiFi Sense will automatically connect you to suggested open WiFi hotspots if you have Connect to suggested open hotspots turned on in Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Manage WiFi settings for PCs or Settings > Network & wireless > WiFi > WiFi Sense for phones. This is turned on already if you did either of these:

For PCs
  • Selected Use Express settings when you first set up your PC with Windows 10.

  • Chose Customise settings during setup, then turned on Automatically connect to suggested open hotspots. Not all networks are secure.

For phones
  • Selected Express when you first set up your phone with Windows 10 Mobile.

  • Chose Customise settings during setup, then turned on Automatically connect to suggested open hotspots. Not all networks are secure.

How does WiFi Sense determine which open WiFi hotspots to connect me to?

WiFi Sense has a database of information about open WiFi hotspots—and we update that crowdsourced information based on what your device and other participating customers’ Windows phones and PCs tell us about those networks. WiFi Sense analyses some characteristics of open WiFi networks that other Windows customers have connected to and determines if they had a good-quality connection. If enough of them did, those networks are added to the database and are suggested by WiFi Sense. You and others then get connected to a suggested network when one of them is in range.

I’m concerned about security. What should I know about connecting to an open network?

An open network is a WiFi network that doesn’t require a password to connect, which means that the network isn’t secure. Anyone can connect to it, and other people might see information that you send over the network. Many public WiFi hotspots are open networks that fall into this category.

Be careful using an open network to do something online that requires sensitive or personal information, such as banking or buying things online. Even if the WiFi network isn’t open and requires a password or certificate to connect, other people on the network or Internet can still possibly see the information that you send unless the connection to the website uses HTTPS. This kind of connection to a website is encrypted and is shown with a lock icon Lock icon on the address bar in Microsoft Edge. You can also use VPN to get an encrypted and more secure connection.
If you’re really not sure about the safety of a WiFi network, you should disconnect from it and try to connect to a WiFi network you trust. (To disconnect from a WiFi network on your PC, select the WiFi network icon WiFi icon on the taskbar in the bottom right-hand corner of the desktop, select the network you’re connected to, then select Disconnect. On your phone, go to Settings > Network & wireless > WiFi, press and hold the network you’re connected to, and then select Disconnect.) Another thing you can do is turn off WiFi while you’re doing something that requires sensitive info and use mobile data instead during that time (if your PC has a mobile data connection).

Remember, there are lots of other things you can do on open WiFi that you might feel comfortable doing – such as browsing the web, catching up on the news, watching videos online, listening to streaming music, or checking social networks you use (to name just a few things).

There are a few networks around me. How does WiFi Sense determine which one to connect to?

There are times when a few WiFi networks will be in range. When this happens, WiFi Sense will try to choose the best one to connect to based on several different factors. It considers if other people using WiFi Sense have connected to it, if it’s a network that you’ve connected to on your own, whether it’s password-protected or open (password-protected networks are given preference over open networks), if it’s provided by your mobile operator, and if it’s been shared by a contact. Along with those things, it considers the signal strength and quality of the network to try to give you the best WiFi connection at that time.

What determines if WiFi Sense will automatically connect me to WiFi networks my contacts have shared with me?

WiFi Sense will automatically connect you to WiFi networks your Facebook friends, Outlook.com contacts or Skype contacts have shared with you if you have Connect to networks shared by my contacts turned on in Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Manage WiFi settings on your PC or Settings > Network & wireless > WiFi > WiFi Sense on your phone, and you’ve shared at least one network with your contacts. This is turned on already if you did either of these:

For PCs
  • Selected Use Express settings when you first set up your PC with Windows 10.

  • Chose Customise settings during setup, then turned on Automatically connect to networks shared by your contacts.

For phones
  • Selected Express when you first set up your phone with Windows 10 Mobile.

  • Chose Customise during setup, then turned on Automatically connect to networks shared by your contacts.

How can I share WiFi network access with my contacts?

Sharing access to password-protected WiFi networks gives your Facebook friends, Outlook.com contacts or Skype contacts Internet access without having to tell them your WiFi network passwords. Your contacts and friends then get automatically connected to the WiFi network you share if they’re using WiFi Sense on their PC or phone that’s running Windows 10, or on their phone if it’s running Windows 10 Mobile. Likewise, your Windows 10 phone or PC will automatically connect to WiFi networks they share with you to give you Internet access.

Some other important things to know beforehand—you choose if you want to share a WiFi network when you first connect to it, and you and your contacts give and get Internet access without entering each other’s network passwords. For shared PCs that have multiple user accounts, any WiFi network that you choose to share will be shared by all users on that PC.

To share WiFi network access with your contacts

  1. On your PC, go to Start Start icon, then select Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Manage WiFi settings. Or, on your phone, from Start Start icon, swipe over to the All apps list, then select Settings > Network & wireless > WiFi > WiFi Sense.
  2. Turn on Connect to networks shared by my contacts.

    When this option is turned on, you’ll be able to do two things – automatically get connected to password-protected WiFi networks that your contacts share with you, and select WiFi networks to share with your contacts by using WiFi Sense.

  3. Select one or more of these check boxes – Outlook.com contacts, Skype contacts or Facebook friends – depending on which groups of contacts you want to share networks with.

  4. When you connect to a password-protected WiFi network later on, select the Share network with my contacts check box if you want to share that network.

    For contacts in the group or groups that you chose, Microsoft will share access to that network if they’re using WiFi Sense on a PC that’s running Windows 10 or phone that’s running Windows 10 Mobile. It can be a few days between the time you share the network and the time your contacts get connected to it.

    To share WiFi network access with Outlook.com contacts, they need to be in your address book and you need to be in theirs.

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Do all my Facebook friends, Skype contacts and Outlook.com contacts have access to the networks I share?

You control whether you want to share your password-protected network with your contacts using WiFi Sense. You can share a network with just your Facebook friends, mutual Skype contacts or mutual Outlook.com contacts, or with all three groups if you want. It’s up to you.

After you share access to a network with a group of contacts, all the contacts in that group will be able to connect to the network when it’s in range. For example, if you choose to share with your Facebook friends, any of your Facebook friends who are using WiFi Sense on a PC that’s running Windows 10 or phone running Windows 10 Mobile will get connected to the network that you shared when it’s in range.

Can I choose to share WiFi networks with individual contacts?

No, you can’t pick and choose individual contacts. You can only share with groups of contacts. For example, if you share password-protected WiFi networks with your Skype contacts, all your Skype contacts will have Internet access over the networks you share.

I’m concerned about sharing WiFi networks. Can you tell me a little more?

Whether you choose to share password-protected WiFi networks with your contacts to give them Internet access is completely up to you. Here are some important things to know and consider:
  • WiFi Sense is designed to not show your WiFi network password to your contacts. For networks you choose to share access to, the password is sent over an encrypted connection and is stored in an encrypted file on a Microsoft server, and is then sent over an HTTPS connection to your contacts’ PC or phone if they use WiFi Sense.

  • You’re in control, and you choose which WiFi networks you want to share access to. When you first connect to a password-protected WiFi network, you choose if you want to share access to that network with your contacts. You can share a few networks, a lot or none – it’s up to you to decide which networks you share. You might have more contacts on one social network or service than another, so you could share WiFi network access with one social network or service and not another to help determine how many people can have access.

  • WiFi Sense gives your contacts Internet access and is designed to prevent them from accessing other computers, devices or files on your home network or other network that you choose to share. If you have a small business and share that network, WiFi Sense is designed to prevent your contacts from accessing intranet sites on that network.

  • Networks are only shared with contacts who use WiFi Sense on a PC running Windows 10 or phone running Windows 10 Mobile. WiFi Sense doesn’t work for people who use a PC or phone that’s running on a different operating system. If your contacts turn off Connect to networks shared by my contacts in Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Manage WiFi settings on their PC or in Settings > Network & wireless > WiFi > WiFi Sense on their Windows 10 phone, they’ll stop sharing their networks and they won’t be able to connect to networks you share.

  • You share with your contacts, but not their contacts. The networks you share aren’t shared with your contacts’ contacts. If your contacts want to share one of your networks with their contacts, they’d need to know your actual password and type it in to share the network.

  • Enterprise networks that use 802.1X can’t be shared. If you connect to one of these enterprise networks at work or somewhere else, those network credentials won’t be shared with any of your contacts.

Can I use WiFi without using WiFi Sense?

Yes, you can still connect to a WiFi network on your own.

If you don’t want to use WiFi Sense, you can go to Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Manage WiFi settings on your PC or Settings > Network & wireless > WiFi > WiFi Sense on your phone, and then turn off Connect to suggested open hotspots and Connect to networks shared by my contacts.

How can I prevent someone from sharing my WiFi network password if I decide to manually enter it on their PC?

If you decide to manually enter your password on someone’s PC or Windows phone instead of sharing access through WiFi Sense, make sure they can’t see what you’re typing when you enter it, and then make sure that the Share network with my contacts tick box is cleared before you select Connect on their PC or Done on their phone.

I entered my network password on my friend’s PC and cleared the Share network with my contacts tick box before connecting. Can they share my network later?

They could, but only if they know the actual password and enter it to share your network.

Can someone I share my network with change my WiFi network password?

No. When you share access to a password-protected WiFi network by using WiFi Sense, WiFi Sense is designed not to show the network password. For networks you choose to share access to, the password is sent over an encrypted connection and is stored in an encrypted file on a Microsoft server, and is then sent over an HTTPS connection to your contacts’ PC or phone if they use WiFi Sense.

I see text with a link that says WiFi Sense needs permission to use an account. What do I need to do?

If the link appears and you want to be able to select WiFi networks to share with those contacts, just select the link, then follow the instructions.

How long does it take for shared WiFi networks to show on my PC and my contacts’ PCs?

If a contact shares WiFi network access with you, it can take a few days for it to appear on your Windows phone and PC before you’ll get connected to it automatically. The same is true for networks you share with your contacts—it can take a few days for them to get access on their PC or phone. If you share a network and then stop sharing it, it usually takes a few days until it stops being shared so that your contacts can’t connect to it. This is also the case if you add or remove contacts or friends – it usually takes a few days for the changes to take place.

Do I have to share all networks?

No, you choose which password-protected networks you want to share. If you don’t want to share a particular network, just clear the Share network with my contacts check box when you first connect to that network.

I’m sharing a network and want to stop it. How do I do that?

If you’re sharing WiFi network access and want to stop sharing a certain network, do the following:

To stop sharing access to a WiFi network

For PCs

  1. Go to Start Start icon > Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Manage WiFi settings.
  2. Under Manage known networks, select the network that you want to stop sharing access to, and then select Stop sharing.

For phones

  1. On Start Start icon, swipe over to the All apps list, then select Settings > Network & wireless > WiFi > Manage.
  2. Under Manage, press and hold the network that you want to stop sharing access to, and then select Stop sharing.

It can take a few days for the network to stop being shared. This is also true if a user is already connected to the network.

If you want to stop sharing all WiFi networks that you’re currently sharing, go to Start Start icon > Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Manage WiFi settings on your PC, then turn off Connect to networks shared by my contacts under WiFi Sense. On your Windows phone, on Start Start icon, swipe over to the All apps list, select Settings > Network & wireless > WiFi > WiFi Sense, then turn off Connect to networks shared by my contacts. It can take a few days for the networks to which you’ve shared access to stop being shared. When you turn this setting off, you won’t get connected to WiFi networks that your contacts have shared with you.

How do I opt my WiFi network out of WiFi Sense?

The best way to prevent other people from sharing access to your password–protected network is to keep your password to yourself and not give it to anyone else. Windows is designed not to share a network unless someone enters the password for that network and selects the Share network with my contacts tick box. You can prevent your network from being shared by not giving anyone else the password.

If you don’t want WiFi Sense to connect people to your open WiFi network or allow people to share access to your password-protected network, you can opt your network out of it by including _optout somewhere in the WiFi network name (also called the SSID). For example, mynetwork_optout or my_optout_network. When it comes to sharing, you might decide to do this if you have a WiFi network at home or at a small business where other people know the WiFi network password, but you don’t want to allow your network to be shared.

To change your network name and opt out of WiFi Sense

  1. Use an Ethernet cable to connect your computer to your router or other WiFi access point.

  2. Open your web browser, then enter the address of the configuration web page for your WiFi router or other access point. The address is usually either http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1.

    If it’s not one of these addresses, you can try a few other things. First, check the bottom of your router or access point, and see if there’s a sticker with the address listed on it. If there isn’t, you can find the address by typing ipconfig in a command prompt window if you’re using Windows (or ifconfig in the command prompt on Mac OS or Linux), then looking at the address for the Default gateway.

  3. If prompted, enter the administrator username and password for your router or access point.

    If you don’t know either one, check the documentation for your router or access point to find the defaults that are used.

  4. On the router configuration web page, find a text box that’s labelled Name, SSID or something similar, then type a new network name that has the phrase _optout in it.

  5. Save your changes if prompted, log out, then unplug the Ethernet cable that’s connecting your computer to your router.

To get connected to your WiFi network again when you’ve finished, select the new network name, then enter your network password when prompted.

Notes

    • Can’t find the Name or SSID box on the router configuration web page? Look for it in a section labelledWireless settings or something similar to that.

    • It can take several days for your network to be added to the opted-out list for WiFi Sense. If you want to stop your network from being shared sooner than that, you can change your WiFi network password. For more information about how to do that, check the documentation for your router or access point.

    • Depending on your router or access point, you might be able to change the name of your network another way. See the documentation for your router to find out.

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