Wi-Fi disappeared in Windows 11? Try these fixes

Kazim Ali Alvi
by Kazim Ali Alvi
Author
Kazim has always been fond of technology, be it scrolling through the settings on his iPhone, Android device, or Windows. And at times, unscrewing the device to take a look at the hardware, although... Read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Wi-Fi or Wireless Fidelity has become an important aspect with the growing dependency on the Internet.
  • Many users have reported that the Wi-Fi icon disappeared from Windows 11, which lead to a lot of trouble.
  • The problem here most likely lies with the driver, the current version of Windows, incompatible apps, or malfunctioning services, amongst others.
  • Until you are able to establish a wireless connection, use the Ethernet to access the Internet.
Wi-Fi settings
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With the number of users increasing exponentially each passing year, the Internet seems to have become a necessity. We are connected to the Internet for the most part of the day, be it for interacting on social media, reading the news, shopping on e-commerce websites and apps, or for work.

Many of us rely on Wi-Fi to establish a connection and access the web. But what if the Wi-Fi icon disappears from the system tray, Settings, or the Control Panel? It seems strange, though, a lot of users have reported Windows 11 not connecting to Wi-Fi.

There are also countless users complaining about the fact that their Windows 11 network adapter is missing. In the following sections, we have listed all you need to know about these problems and the most effective ways to fix them.

Why is the Wi-Fi not showing in Windows 11?

Problems with the Wi-Fi can be caused by a plethora of other issues and it’s difficult pinpointing one. For a better understanding, we have listed the most common causes below:

  • Issues with the Wi-Fi adapter or its driver
  • Applications conflicting with Wi-Fi
  • Misconfigured settings
  • Wi-Fi icon hidden
  • Problems with the current version of Windows 11

And the list goes on. However, the ones mentioned above are most likely to lead to this inconvenience, and we will list out the fixes for each in the sections to follow.

Is the Wi-Fi problem a result of a hardware or software issue?

This can be caused by a bunch of issues, both related to the hardware and software. If you started encountering it after upgrading to Windows 11 or updating to the latest build, it’s most likely the software at fault.

However, if you noticed a gradual reduction in the Wi-Fi strength over time or have run into trivial issues, it could be the failure of the hardware as well.

It all depends on your experience and your PC’s performance, and only you could best judge if the Wi-Fi problem is a result of a hardware or software issue based on the information mentioned above.

An issue with the software, for instance, an outdated or corrupt driver, or a conflicting app, can easily be resolved with the fixes listed here. For problems with the hardware, you would have to seek professional help.

How do I the execute the fixes listed here with the Wi-Fi missing?

With the Wi-Fi missing, you might face trouble connecting to the Internet. In this situation, you can boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode.

If this doesn’t work, switch to a wired connection, i.e. Ethernet. These are less prone to errors and offer a higher level of security. After securing access to the Internet, you can now start executing the fixes listed here.

You can make things even more simple if you get Windows 11 to auto login and forget about entering the password after booting.

What can I do if Wi-Fi disappeared in Windows 11?

1. Check for a physical switch to turn on Wi-Fi

Many new computers, laptops, in particular, have a built-in switch to enable/disable the Wi-Fi. You will find it either on the side or around the keyboard.

After locating the switch, make sure it’s turned on and check if the Wi-Fi icon and settings reappear.

Note icon
NOTE
If you are unable to locate the switch, check the manufacturer’s website or the manual that came along with the system for its position.

2. Verify that Airplane mode is disabled

  1. Press Windows + I to launch the Settings app.
  2. Select Network & internet from the tabs listed to the left.select Network & internet
  3. Locate the Airplane mode toggle and ensure that it’s disabled.disable Airplane mode

3. Turn on the Airplane mode and then disable it

  1. Click on the Action Center icon at the right of the Taskbar or press Windows + A, to view the Quick Settings.Action Center
  2. Click on the Airplane mode tile to enable it. Once enabled, the tile color will change to blue.enable Airplane mode
  3. Wait for a couple of minutes, and then again click on the Airplane mode tile to disable the setting. disable Airplane mode

Quick Settings allow you to make modifications to the system, enable or disable features without having to navigate to their actual location. You can also customize the Action Center and only keep the tiles you often use, for a finer experience.

4. Restart the PC

  1. Go to the Desktop and press Alt + F4 to launch the Shut Down Windows box.
  2. Click on the dropdown menu and select Restart from the list of options.Restart windows 11
  3. Click OK at the bottom.click OK

We hope this helped you solve Windows 11’s network adapter missing issues/Wi-Fi problems. If you have trouble with the account after the restart, learn how to change your password and username in Windows 11.

5. Check if Wi-Fi is adapter is enabled

  1. Press Windows + R to launch the Run command.
  2. Enter ncpa.cpl in the text field, and either click on OK or press Enter, to launch Network Connections.Launch Network connections
  3. Locate and check if the Wi-Fi entry is greyed out. In case it is, you have to enable it.
  4. Right-click on the Wi-Fi adapter, and select Enable from the context menu.Enable Wi-Fi adapter

If the Wi-Fi adapter is disabled, you wouldn’t be able to connect to any network and it would seem like the Wi-Fi icon is missing due to the change in icon in the system tray. After enabling, check if you are able to establish a secure Wi-Fi connection.

6. Update the Wi-Fi driver

The Wi-Fi issue you’re experiencing can be caused by an outdated driver, and if the fixes above didn’t work, it’s time you give this method a try.

There are three ways you can update a driver, namely, using the Device Manager, from the Windows Update settings, and manually downloading and installing it from the official manufacturer’s website.

Let’s see all three methods:

6.1 Via Device Manager

  1. Press Windows + X to launch the Power User/Quick Access menu.
  2. Select Device Manager from the list of options that appear.Launch device manager
  3. Locate and double-click on the Network adapters entry to expand and view the devices under it.expand Network adapters
  4. Right-click on the Wi-Fi adapter and select Update driver from the context menu.Update Wi-Fi driver
  5. Select Search automatically for driver to let Windows scan for the best available driver on the system and install it.Search automatically for drivers
Note icon
NOTE
The Device Manager method only allows you to install the drivers already downloaded to the system. In case you haven’t downloaded an update earlier, go for the methods listed next.

6.2 Via Windows Update

  1. Press Windows + I to launch the Settings.
  2. Select Windows Update from the navigation pane on the left.select Windows Update
  3. Click on Advanced options.Advanced options
  4. Select Optional updates under Additional options.Optional updates
  5. Check if there an update available for the Wi-Fi driver. In case there’s one present, tick the checkbox for it and click on the Download & install button.

After the update is installed, restart the computer for the changes to come into effect and check if the Wi-Fi icon appears.

In case a newer version of the driver was not available in Windows Update, you could always look for it on the manufacturer’s website.

6.3 Via manufacturer’s website

Note icon
NOTE
To identify if a newer version of the driver is available, you will first have to find out the current version. Hence, in this method, we will first check the present driver version and then proceed to the update.

  1. Launch the Device Manager.
  2. Double-click on Network adapters, locate and right-click on the Wi-Fi adapter, and select Properties from the context menu.Wi-Fi adapter properties
  3. Navigate to the Driver tab and jot down the driver version.Note the driver version
  4. Once you have the current driver version, go to Google or any other search engine of your preference, and search for the update using the Driver Name and Operating System (Windows 11) as the keywords followed by Update driver.
  5. Locate and open the manufacturer’s website from the search results.
  6. On the OEM’s website, identify if there is an update available based on the current driver version you noted earlier.
  7. In case a newer version is available, download it.
  8. Navigate to the folder the driver update is downloaded to, double-click on it to launch the installer and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process.
  9. After updating the driver, restart the computer for the changes to come into effect and check if the Wi-Fi icon can be accessed now.

The last process can be a little intricate and time-consuming and carries a considerable amount of risk in case of a serious lapse on your end. However, the three methods can be used to update any driver on your computer and with a little caution and patience, they are bound to deliver results.

In case you are looking for simpler ways to keep your drivers up-to-date, we recommend using DriverFix, a dedicated third-party tool. It automatically scans for driver updates and installs them to your PC, thus making the whole process simpler and convenient.

7. Use the Roll Back Driver option

  1. Launch Device Manager.
  2. Locate and double-click on Network adapters, right-click on the Wi-Fi adapter, and select Properties from the context menu.Wi-Fi adapter properties
  3. Go to the Driver tab and select Roll Back Driver.Roll Back Driver
  4. You will now be asked to select a reason for rolling back the update. Choose the necessary response and click Yes.

Windows will take a few seconds (or minutes, as the case may be) to reinstall the previous version of the driver but you wouldn’t receive a prompt or confirmation on its completion. It’s recommended that you restart the computer after a few minutes for the changes to come into effect.

Note icon
NOTE
If the Roll Back Driver option is greyed out, either the driver wasn’t updated recently or Windows didn’t store the files for the previous version. In which case, you will have to reinstall it from the manufacturer’s website, as discussed in the previous fix.

In case the Wi-Fi disappeared after you updated the Wi-Fi driver, rolling back the update could work. Windows keeps the files for the previous version if you want to revert to it.

8. Reinstall the Wi-Fi driver

  1. Launch Device Manager.
  2. Double-click on the Network adapters to expand and view the devices under it, right-click on Wi-Fi adapter, and select Uninstall device from the context menu.Uninstall driver
  3. Tick the checkbox for Attempt to remove the driver for this device and click on Uninstall at the bottom.Uninstall driver
  4. After the driver is uninstalled, restart the computer.
  5. When the computer turns on, Windows will automatically look for the best available driver and install it. Check if you are now able to connect to the Wi-Fi.

Corrupt drivers are known to cause a lot of problems, your current one being a prominent example. In this case, reinstalling the corrupt driver will fix the issue. While the problem here seems intricate, the solution is rather simple and can be executed within minutes.

9. Update Windows 11

  1. Press Windows + I to launch the Settings app.
  2. Select Windows Update from the tabs listed on the left.Update windows
  3. Click on Check for updates and let Windows scan for any pending updates. If there are any available, they will be downloaded and installed to the computer.Check for updates

Sometimes, running an older version of Windows is also likely to cause a bunch of issues. In the updates released by Microsoft, there are both patches for various problems along with other new features for your computer. It’s the former part that you should be concerned with here.

After upgrading to the latest version/build of Windows 11, check if the Wi-Fi appears.

10. Uninstall Windows 11 updates

  1. Press Windows + I to launch the Settings.
  2. Select Windows Update from the tabs listed on the left.Windows Update
  3. Click on Update history on the right.View update history
  4. Click Uninstall updates under Related settings.Uninstall updates
  5. Select the update you want to remove and click on Uninstall.Uninstall the problematic Windows Update

In case the Wi-Fi disappeared on Windows 11 after updating, the problem could very well lie in the current version/build itself.

If you couldn’t find a new update from Microsoft in the previous fix, it’s best that you uninstall the last update and revert to the previous version, one that was stable and worked fine.

11. Run the Network Adapter troubleshooter

  1. Press Windows + I to launch the Settings.
  2. Scroll down and select Troubleshoot in the System tab.select Troubleshoot
  3. Click on Other troubleshooters.Other troubleshooters
  4. Click on the Run button next to Network Adapter troubleshooter.Network adapter troubleshooter
  5. Wait for the troubleshooter to run a scan and then select Wi-Fi from the list of network adapters.Wi-Fi adapter
  6. Wait for the troubleshooter to identify and fix the issues.

Microsoft offers a bunch of built-in troubleshooters to easily identify and fix issues affecting the performance of Windows. However, these can only solve the already known problems.

If running the Network Adapter troubleshooter doesn’t help, head to the next fix.

12. Run File Explorer

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to launch the Task Manager.
  2. Click on the File menu at the top-right corner and select Run new task.Run new task in Task Manager
  3. Type explorer.exe in the text field, and either click on OK or hit Enter to launch File Explorer.Launch File Explorer
  4. After the File Explorer process starts, check if the Wi-Fi icon reappears.

This is a known workaround to fix issues with the Wi-Fi in all versions of Windows. Running the File Explorer eliminates or removes any bug preventing the Wi-Fi icon from appearing, thus making it accessible.

13. Modify the Group Policy

  1. Press Windows + R to launch the Run command.
  2. Enter gpedit.msc in the text field, and either click on OK or hit Enter to launch the Group Policy Editor.run group policy editor
  3. Navigate to User Configuration, then to Administrative Templates and Start Menu and Taskbar from the navigation pane on the left.
  4. Locate and double-click on Remove the networking icon.remove the network icon
  5. Select the checkbox for Disabled and click on OK to save the changes.Disable remove the networking icon

14. Perform a clean boot

  1. Press Windows + R to launch the Run command.
  2. Type msconfig in the text field, and either click on OK or hit Enter to launch the System Configuration window.System configuration
  3. Go to the Services tab.Services tab in System configuration
  4. Tick the checkbox for Hide all Microsoft services and click Disable all.Disable non-Microsoft services
  5. Navigate to the Startup tab and select Open Task Manager.Launch Task Manager
  6. Select all the startup items listed here one at a time and click on Disable each time.Disable startup programs
  7. Close the Task Manager once you are done disabling the startup programs
  8. Click on OK in the System Configuration window.click OK
  9. Click Restart to launch Windows with just the critical services and startup programs.Click Restart

When the PC restarts, it will load just the basic services, drivers, and startup programs. The clean boot environment is similar to Safe Mode but offers a lot more options to troubleshoot issues.

On clean booting the Windows, you should have the Wi-Fi icon present. Now, launch the services and programs one at a time to identify which one is causing the issue.

The app or service you started just before the Wi-Fi icon disappears is likely to be behind the error.

If it’s a program that’s leading to the error, you can simply uninstall the app. In case of services, keep it disabled until an update for Windows is available for download.

After you are done troubleshooting, you can safely relaunch/start the other items that were disabled earlier.

The clean boot process is fairly intricate and time-consuming, thus it’s recommended that you go for it near the end when nothing else works.

For any problems logging in after the clean boot, learn how to remove your login password in Windows 11.

15. Perform a system restore

  1. Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu.
  2. Type create a restore point in the text field at the top and click on the relevant search result.create a restore point
  3. Click on System Restore.System restore
  4. Select the preferred setting and click on Next. The first option here is the recomended restore point by Windows while with the other setting, you can select one manually. We will choose the second option.Click Next
  5. Choose a restore point and click on Next.Select a restore point
  6. Review the details and click on Finish to start the restore process.Click Finish
  7. The computer will restart during the restore process, hence, it’s recommended that you save any open files to avoid loss of data.

System restore has been present on the previous versions of Windows as well and is an effective troubleshooting method.

It takes the computer back in time to a point where the error did not exist by modifying the settings and uninstalling apps. The restore process, however, does not affect the files stored on the system.

But the condition here is that the restore point must be created before the time you first encountered the error. And in all likelihood, such a point should exist on your computer, given the right settings are in place.

Windows automatically creates a restore point before any critical tasks, say, updating the Windows or installing a major application. This way, you can be sure of a restore point present at your disposal.

What can I do if Windows 11’s Wi-Fi icon is missing?

Although this is a less likely occurrence, the Windows 11 Wi-Fi icon missing error can be triggered by a corrupt user account.

So, the obvious solution here is to create a new one in the hope that logging into it will make the Wi-Fi icon show up as intended.

  1. Press Windows + I to launch the Settings.
  2. Select Accounts from the left.Accounts
  3. Click on Family & other users from the right pane.Family & other users
  4. Next, click on the Add account button next to Add other user.Add another account
  5. Enter the credentials of the person to create a Microsoft accont and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process. Or, you can also create a local account.Create another account

There are a few methods through which you can fix a corrupt user profile. Though the guide is for Windows 10, the fixes listed have been duly checked and found to be as effective in Windows 11.

While some would go for fixing the corrupt profile, a simple and quick alternative is to create another one in order to work efficiently without encountering any errors. Once done, you have all the time to work on the corrupted one.

What do I do if the fixes listed here don’t work?

While the above fixes cater to all kinds of problems, there is a small possibility that these won’t resolve the Wi-Fi disappearing issue.

In this situation, you can reset Windows 11 to the factory settings. This should do the trick, given it removes all files, apps, and configured settings from the computer.

If resetting doesn’t work, the problem, in all likelihood, lies with the hardware, in which case, it’s recommended that you seek professional help.

The fixes listed above are found to have resolved the error for most of the users. Once the Wi-Fi reappears, you can now connect to the Internet and start off where you left when it disappeared.

If you are facing troubles with the connection, check our guide on how to increase the Internet speed on Wi-Fi. Also, find out the best browsers for Windows 11 to seamlessly surf the web while ensuring privacy and security.

Let us know which fix worked for you in the comments section below.

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