How to find your forgotten Wi-Fi password

You set up your wireless network and devices a long time ago and now need to connect a new device. What was that password again?

If you can't remember that (hopefully) ridiculously long and complex password you set up on your wireless router, I don't blame you. It's probably been a while since you set that up, and we all have too many other passwords to remember, for things we use more often. Still, it's helpful to be able to retrieve the network password for those times when we add a new device or have a friend over who wants to jump onto our Wi-Fi network. Here's how to find that mysterious password.

[The everyday agony of the password and What to do when you’ve been hacked]

In Windows, click on the wireless network icon in the taskbar, and right-click on your Wi-Fi network's name, then select "View connection properties." (Sorry, I'm on Windows 8 right now, so the menu options/steps might differ slightly if you're on an older Windows version, but essentially you want to get to the wireless network properties.) Go to the Security tab and check the "Show characters" box to reveal the Wi-Fi network password.

If you have more than one Wi-Fi network you connect to at home or at work, AddictiveTips recommends a small portable utility called SterJo Wireless Passwords, which displays all your saved passwords for multiple networks.

Using a Mac? Head to your Applications folder, then Utilities, and open up the Keychain Access app. Double-click the name of your wireless network and check to "Show Password" (you'll have to authenticate with your system administrator password) and you'll find your security key there.

If you haven't changed your wireless router's (or modem's) WEP/WPA key from the default, you can also check the back of your router or modem for a tag that has it printed on. However, it's never a good idea to use the default settings, so now's a good time to come up with a unique network name, administrator login, and Wi-Fi password.

Read more of Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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