Finding a computer's SSID

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Finding a computer's SSID
Finding a computer's SSID

An SSID (Service Set Identifier) ​​is a name that identifies a specific wireless network you are connected to. Each wireless network within your range has its own unique name, or SSID. If the wireless network is not broadcasting the SSID, you can use a network analyzer to find it.


Method 1 of 3: Finding available SSIDs in Windows

Find the SSID on a Computer Step 1

Step #1. Locate the wireless network icon in the Notification Area

You will find this at the bottom right of the desktop. You may need to press the '▴' button to see all the icons in the system tray.

  • If you use a laptop, make sure wireless is turned on. You may need to enable it by flipping a switch or using the Fn key.
  • If you're using a desktop PC and you don't see the wireless network symbol, the wireless network card may not be installed properly, or it may be disabled. To verify that your adapter is enabled, press the Windows key + R and type ncpa.cpl. Look for your wireless adapter in the list of connections. If it is listed as 'Disabled', right click on it and select 'Enable'.
Find the SSID on a Computer Step 2

Step 2. Hover over the symbol to view your current network

If you hover your mouse cursor over the wireless icon in the system tray, the pop-up will show the SSID (network name) of the wireless network you are currently connected to.

Find the SSID on a Computer Step 3

Step 3. Browse the available networks

Click the wireless networks icon. A list of networks in range appears. Each network can be identified by an SSID.

Method 2 of 3: Finding the available SSIDs in OS X

Find the SSID on a Computer Step 4

Step 1. Click on the wireless networks icon in the menu bar

You'll find it at the top of the screen on the right, next to the volume icon.

Make sure you have AirPort turned on to see all wireless networks. You can turn AirPort on and off from the wireless network menu

Find the SSID on a Computer Step 5

Step 2. Find your current SSID

The network you are connected to is indicated by a checkmark '✓'. The SSID is the name of the network.

Hold down the Option key while clicking the wireless network icon to learn more about your current network

Find the SSID on a Computer Step 6

Step 3. Check out the available SSIDs

When you click on the menu, all networks within range of your computer are shown. The SSID is the name of the network.

Method 3 of 3: Detecting hidden SSIDs

Find the SSID on a Computer Step 7

Step 1. Download a network sniffer

If you suspect that there are hidden networks that do not show an SSID (broadcast), you can use a sniffing program to find that network. These programs analyze the network and then list all SSIDs in range, including hidden networks. Popular programs are:

  • inSSIDer
  • NetStumbler (free)
  • Mac users can use the built-in Wi-Fi Diagnostic tool to perform the same functions. You can access this tool by holding Option and pressing the Wireless icon, then select 'Open Wireless Diagnostics'.
Find the SSID on a Computer Step 8

Step 2. Start the scanner

The procedure depends on the program you are using, but generally scanning is one of its primary functions. The program The program uses your wireless network card to find all networks that are within range, even if they don't reveal their SSID.

Find the SSID on a Computer Step 9

Step 3. Examine the results

After the scan, you will be presented with a list of all detected networks along with their SSIDs. Depending on the program you use, you may or may not be able to see the SSID of the networks that don't announce the number (and thus have broadcasting disabled).

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