Your computer is connected to a Wi-Fi network but you do not remember the password that you had earlier used to connect to this particular WiFi network. Maybe you forgot the password or maybe the network administrator entered it directly without revealing the actual password to you.
You would now like to connect a second device, like your mobile phone, to the same WiFi network but how do you find out the password? You can either send a password request the WiFi admin or you can open the command prompt on your computer and retrieve the saved password in one easy step. The technique works on both Mac and Windows PCs.
Open the command prompt in administrator mode. Type “cmd” in the Run box, right-click the command prompt icon and choose Run as Administrator (see how). Now enter the following command and hit enter to see the WiFi password.
netsh wlan show profile name=labnol key=clear
Remember to replace labnol with the name of your Wireless SSID (this is the name of the Wi-Fi network that you connect your computer to). The password will show up under the Security Setting section (see screenshot).
If you would only like to see the password and not the other information, use the findstr command:
netsh wlan show profile name=labnol key=clear | findstr Key
Your Mac OS X uses Keychain to store the configuration details of the WiFi network and we can use the BSD command “security” to query anything stored inside Keychain, including the Wi-Fi password. Here’s how:
Open Spotlight (Cmd+Space) and type terminal to open the Terminal window. At the command line, enter the following command (replace labnol with your WiFi name), then enter your Mac username and password to access the OS X keychain and the Wi-FI network password would be displayed on the screen in plain text.
security find-generic-password -wa labnol
This trick for getting Wi-Fi passwords works for Linux too. Substitute labnol with the wireless name (SSID) of your network. The value of the field psk is your WiFi password.
sudo cat /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/labnol | grep psk=
If you don’t know the network name, use the following command.
sudo grep psk= /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/*
If you are using this technique to retrieve the WiFi password on a Windows computer but getting an error that says - “The Wireless AutoConfig Service (wlansvc) is not running” - here’s a simple fix:
Click the Windows Start button and type “services.msc” in the Run box to access Windows Services. Here go to the WLAN Autoconfig service and make sure that the status is Running. Else right-click the WLAN AutoConfig service, select Properties and go to Dependencies. Check all the dependencies to make sure they are all running.