4 Methods to Find Your Forgotten Wi-Fi Password in Windows 10

Has this ever happened to you? You‘re visiting a friend or family member and they ask for the Wi-Fi password to connect their device. You try hard to remember that random mix of letters, numbers, and symbols – but it‘s just not coming back to you.

We‘ve all been there at some point! With the complexity of modern internet security, remembering passwords is a chore. And after entering Wi-Fi passwords into our computers and phones, we often forget them easily.

Don‘t worry – if you use Windows 10, you can easily recover and view saved Wi-Fi passwords right on your PC.

In this guide, I‘ll show you 4 different methods to reveal network passwords in Windows 10:

  • Using the Settings app
  • Via the Control Panel
  • With PowerShell commands
  • Using password viewer tools

I‘ll explain step-by-step how to use each technique. By the end, you‘ll know how to easily view any Wi-Fi details with a few clicks or commands. Let‘s get started!

The Annoying Truth of Forgotten Passwords

First, know that you‘re not alone if you struggle to recall complex network credentials. According to a Telegraph study, the average person has to remember 14 different passwords in their daily digital life!

Juggling that many secure passwords that you rarely have to enter makes forgetting them inevitable. In fact, a LastPass survey revealed that close to 60% of people forget at least one password per week.

So when it comes to that random Wi-Fi password you entered months ago, it‘s normal not to recall it off the top of your head. The good news is – Windows has your back to uncover the hidden password easily.

Why You Shouldn‘t Save Wi-Fi Passwords

Now before I demo the password recovery methods, is saving your network credentials actually risky? What if someone accesses your saved Wi-Fi passwords without your permission?

The short answer – yes, saving plaintext passwords poses minor security risks. The greatest threat is someone nearby using your Wi-Fi without approval.

However, for home networks it‘s generally fine. The convenience often outweighs the small chance of misuse. But for corporate environments, saving user passwords is riskier.

To learn more password security best practices, check out this Wi-Fi password guide. The key rules are:

  • Use a strong source password – 12+ random characters
  • Change it every 1-2 years
  • Use WPA2 or WPA3 encryption
  • Disable WPS connectivity

Following those tips will keep your Wi-Fi protected, despite exposing the key to authorized Windows users.

Alright, now that you know basics to keep your network credentials secure, let‘s uncover forgotten passwords!

Method #1: Reveal Passwords in Settings

If you have administrative privileges for your Windows user profile, this method is the simplest way to find Wi-Fi passwords.

The Windows Settings app provides quick access to view the current network password in use:

  1. Click the Start menu and launch Settings

  2. Select "Network & Internet"

    Network and Internet settings

  3. Under "Status", scroll down and select "Network and Sharing Center"

    Sharing Center

  4. In "View your active networks", click your Wi-Fi network name

    Active Wi-Fi

  5. Select "Wireless Properties" in the status window

  6. Go to the Security tab > check "Show characters"

    Show characters

Once you enable viewing the password characters, the Network security key field will reveal your credentials.

Then you can double check that matches the password you wanted to recover!

The Pros:

  • Quick access with just Windows Settings GUI
  • Works on current connected network

The Cons:

  • Only shows current Wi-Fi password
  • Needs admin privileges

So if you just need a reminder of the current Wi-Fi details, using the Settings app is fast and simple. But what if want old network passwords or have profile restrictions? Keep reading for more options!

Method #2: Control Panel Shortcut

If you don‘t have full access to Settings or just want a quicker route, you can use the Control Panel network settings directly:

  1. Press Windows + R to open the command dialog

    Run command

  2. Type ncpa.cpl and press Enter to open Network Connections

  3. Right click your Wi-Fi > Select "Status"

    Network status

  4. Click "Wireless Properties" in the popup

  5. Go to Security > check "Show characters" to reveal the password

This displays the connected network credentials just like with the Settings method.

The Pros:

  • Faster access through shortcut
  • Works without admin privileges
  • Native Windows tools only

The Cons:

  • Again only current password
  • Less user-friendly

The Control Panel route is great if you want quick access or have user restrictions enabled.

But what if you need passwords from old networks? Let‘s dig further!

Method #3: PowerShell Network Commands

More experienced Windows users can take advantage of built-in network tools to reveal all saved network passwords. No third party tools required!

The secret lies in PowerShell, which lets you access user profiles and network settings through advanced commands.

Here are the steps:

  1. Launch PowerShell by right-clicking Start

    Start PowerShell

  2. Type netsh wlan show profiles to view all networks

    show profiles

  3. Take any network name and run:

    netsh wlan show profile name="networkname" key=clear
  4. This reveals the password!

    Revealed password

Let‘s break down exactly what‘s happening here:

The netsh wlan part calls the netsh wlan tool used to manage wireless networks.

The show profiles command lists all your user‘s saved networks. This pulls the profile names from the C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Wlansvc\Profiles\ directory.

Finally, the last command grabs an individual network‘s details – including the plaintext password!

This makes PowerShell a power user‘s dream for conveniently recovering ANY previously connected Wi-Fi‘s password!

The Pros:

  • Reveal passwords from ALL saved networks
  • No external tools required
  • More advanced capabilities

The Cons:

  • Requires PowerShell knowledge
  • Manual copy/paste of network names

While the extra effort is worth it to unlock old network passwords, an easier solution is coming up next!

Method #4: Password Viewer Tools

The most user-friendly way to access all your saved network passwords is using a dedicated Wi-Fi password viewer tool. They automatically extract the passwords and display them in one simple interface.

NirSoft WirelessKeyView is a popular free option that works flawlessly:


It immediately finds all wireless networks you‘ve connected to and shows the:

  • Network name (SSID)
  • Password (for saved profiles)
  • Connection type (WPA, WPA2, etc)

With just one click, you can copy any Wi-Fi login details over to login on another device!

WiFi Password Revealer is another great tool with added features:

WiFi Password Revealer

Along with a slick interface, it can also export password lists and recover keys from external disk backups.

For the most features and convenience, a specialized Wi-Fi password recovery tool is a must-have. It makes accessing old and complex passwords painless.

The only downside is the minor privacy risks of an external app accessing saved credentials. But the top password tools use secure access methods similar to native Windows functions.

BONUS: More Password Recovery Tricks

If the 4 main methods didn‘t work, here are a few other password recovery ideas:

  • Use a password manager – Tools like LastPass or 1Password may auto-save and fill Wi-Fi passwords.

  • Check the router admin interface – Log into your router‘s control panel to look up Wi-Fi credentials. Steps vary across models though.

  • Export profile lists – From an Admin Command Prompt, run netsh wlan export profile key=clear to export all wireless profiles with passwords unlocked to a XML file.

  • Reset the router – Resetting wipes the Wi-Fi password, allowing you to access it with the factory default admin credentials.

  • Retrieve Microsoft account password – To access saved passwords, you‘ll need to sign into Windows with the account you set up. Account.Microsoft.com lets you easily reset the password if you get locked out.

Remember Passwords Stress-Free

After reading this guide, you now have the complete knowledge to:

  • Uncover forgotten Wi-Fi passwords in Windows 10
  • Understand the security tradeoffs around saving credentials
  • Utilize built-in tools for convenient password access
  • Use advanced commands for even more password control

So next time you or someone else needs to connect another device to the Wi-Fi, you‘ll know just how to easily look up those complicated credentials on your Windows PC. No more Wi-Fi password panic!

Were these methods helpful for recovering your network access? Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments!