When most folks set up a wireless router they create a secure Wi-Fi network that’s protected by a wireless security key (commonly referred to as a “password”).
Most computers and mobile devices will “remember” the passwords for each of the wireless networks they connect to, allowing the device to automatically connect to a network whenever the device comes into range.
That’s a wonderful feature, but it can lead to a problem…
If your computer, phone or tablet connects to a network automatically without you having to enter the Wi-Fi password every time, it’s easy to forget the password over time – and that isn’t good.
You’ll need to enter your Wi-Fi network’s password the next time you need to connect a new device (or an existing device that’s been reset to its factory defaults) to that network. And if you’ve forgotten the password, well…
A while back I wrote a post explaining how to retrieve a forgotten Wi-Fi password from any Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 PC that has previously stored it, but today I’m going to tell you about a much easier way to do it.
Our friends over at NirSoft have written a handy (and free) little utility that will instantly scan a Windows PC and display a list of all the Wi-Fi passwords that are stored on that computer. It’s called WirelessKeyView, and it works amazingly well.
You can download WirelessKeyView for free at right here. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the green Download Now link.
Important: Some anti-malware programs will flag WirelessKeyView as malware. If yours flags it as such, don’t be alarmed. This is a known false positive.
WirelessKeyView IS NOT malware, but the method it uses to retrieve stored passwords makes some anti-malware programs falsely think it is.
After you have downloaded WirelessKeyView, follow these steps to run it:
1 – Right-click on the zipped folder and click Extract All.
2 – Open the “unzipped” WirelessKeyView folder and double-click the WirelessKeyView.exe file.
3 – Click Yes in response to the User Account Control dialog to allow the utility to scan your PC for stored Wi-Fi passwords.
That’s all there is to it. A list of your computer’s stored Wi-Fi passwords should now appear on the screen.
In the left column you’ll see a list of the Wi-Fi networks that your computer has stored passwords for. The Key (Ascii) column lists the passwords for their corresponding networks.
That’s all there is to it. Keep a copy of WirelessKeyView sitting on your computer desktop and you’ll be able to retrieve a stored Wi-Fi password at any time with just a few mouse clicks!
Note: This utility cannot be used to “steal” the password and break into a Wi-Fi network that you do not have permission to use. All it does is allow you to easily retrieve the stored password for a network that you have actually used in the past.
Bonus tip #1: As mentioned earlier, you can easily retrieve a stored Wi-Fi password from your PC manually without the use of a utility like WirelessKeyView. This post explains how.
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