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Why Your Laptop Shows Ethernet Instead Of WiFi (Windows 10)

windows shows ethernet icon instead of wifi

Why is your Laptop Showing Ethernet instead of WiFi?

Your laptop may be showing an Ethernet icon instead of the WIFI icon because of a windows update, driver bug, or a conflict with antivirus software.

In Windows 10 (and below), you should get an ethernet icon in the system tray of your laptops taskbar when your laptop is connected via ethernet cable to the internet. You should get a WiFi icon instead if you’re connected to the internet via a WiFi network.

Sometimes though, you’ll get the Ethernet icon instead of the WiFi icon even though your laptop is connected to a WiFi network.

This is a relatively common error that’s usually a very easy fix. It might have been brought on by a new update to your laptop and it’s usually fixed by the next update your laptop gets.

That being said, sometimes it’s a problem with your WiFi drivers not being properly installed or your drivers just being the wrong ones for your laptop. It could also be that one of your drivers got corrupted.

Installing Kaspersky Antivirus software is also known to cause this error. So if the ethernet showing instead of WiFi is really bugging you, try replacing your antivirus software.


Why is the WiFi Icon Not Showing on the Taskbar?

If the WiFi icon is missing from your taskbar, it might be because the network service isn’t running or a third party app is conflicting with your laptops system tray notifications. Sometimes the issue is incorrect Windows settings. Sometimes due to a user mishap or a faulty software update, the WiFi icon can be hidden or outright disabled.

Most of this can be easily fixed by restarting Windows Explorer and then starting network services. After that, open your Task Manager by right clicking the empty space on your laptops taskbar and then click Task Manager. Lastly, go to the processes tab and then right-click Windows Explorer then click the Restart option.

You can also try going into the device manager to check for updates for your laptops WiFi driver as well as enable admin privileges on your laptop to enable WiFi manually.


How to Fix the “No WiFi icon” Problem on Windows 10

The WiFi icon should always appear in your taskbar if you’re connected to a WiFi network. It should automatically refresh when your laptop connects, disconnects or reconnects to the WiFi. Sometimes though, your laptop doesn’t show any WiFi icon even if you are connected to and using a WiFi network.

If your taskbar is missing the WiFi icon, try these methods to fix the problem:

  • Restart the WIFI on your laptop
  • Restart your laptop
  • Restart windows explorer
  • Remove and then re-add the wifi icon
  • Reinstall WIFI drivers
  • Restart network services
  • Fix network registry
  • Run network adapter troubleshooter


Restart the WiFi on your Laptop

how to restart wifi in windows 10

Start with the easiest things to do. Go into your laptop settings and then go to “Network and Internet” then choose “WiFi”. Turn off the WiFi by moving the WiFi slider then wait for about 30 seconds or so to turn the WiFi back on.

If the above method didn’t fix your problem, try restarting your laptop then go onto the more complicated methods.


Restart your Laptop

This is lower on the list because it’s usually a temporary fix at best. Restarting your laptop can make your WiFi icon work like normal. If you’re lucky, it’ll permanently solve the issue.


Restart Windows Explorer

Restarting Windows Explorer can often fix a lot of taskbar issues. Open the Task Manager by right-clicking the empty space on your taskbar and then choose the Task Manager option. You can also use the shortcut by pressing the Ctrl, Shift and Esc keys on your keyboard together at the same time.

Make sure you’re on the full version of the Task Manager then click the Processes tab and from there right-click the Windows Explorer option then click Restart.

Your WiFi icon should reappear immediately but some laptops need to be restarted for changes to be implemented.


Removing then re-add the WiFi Icon

  1. Go to your laptop settings, click Personalization then click Taskbar. From there click the “Select which icons appear on the taskbar” option.
  2. Switch off the Network icon and wait about 30 seconds to turn the Network icon back on.
  3. On some laptops, the WiFi icon comes back right away but some laptops need to be restarted to bring back the WiFi icon.


Reinstall your WiFi Drivers

Reinstalling your WiFi driver is more complicated than most of the methods listed here but it’s the method most likely to solve your issue.

The first thing you need to do is to find out your exact WiFi adapter model and find the exact drivers and instructions you need to follow in order to install them on your laptop. Installation steps vary from model to model and driver to driver.

Most WiFi drivers as well as instructions on how to install them are readily available online on their respective manufacturer websites.


Restore the WiFi icon from the Show Hidden area.

You may have accidentally dragged your WiFi icon to the Show Hidden area. Check if the WiFi icon is here by clicking the up arrow on your taskbar. If it’s there, just drag it back onto the taskbar.


Restart your laptops Network Services

services.msc windows 10

To restart your laptops Network Services:

  1. Press the Windows and R key on your keyboard together at the same time to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type “services.msc” in the box then click OK to continue.
  3. In the Services box, make sure all the following services are started and if they’re not right-click the service then choose start to start them.
  • Telephony
  • Remote Procedure Call
  • Plug And Play
  • Network Connections
  • Remote Access Connection Manager

Restart your laptop and your WiFi icon should be working properly.


Enable the WiFi icon in the Group Policy Editor

To enable the WiFi icon using the Group Policy Editor:

  1. Press the Windows and R key on your keyboard together at the same time to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type gpedit.msc in the dialog box and click OK to proceed.
  3. From the Group Policy Editor box, go to Configuration, then go to Administrative Templates, then go to Start Menu and Taskbar.
  4. Select “Remove the networking icon” on the right panel then click it twice.
  5. In the window that comes up, choose Disabled to continue then click Apply and OK.
  6. Reboot your computer and your WiFi icon should be back.


Fix your laptop Registry

To fix your laptop Registry:

  1. Press the Windows and R key on your keyboard together at the same time to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type regedit into the dialog box and click OK to continue.
  3. In the Registry Editor, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Network.
  4. Find the Config key and choose the Delete option in the context menu to continue.
  5. Reboot your laptop and your missing WiFi icon should be back.


Run the Network Adapter Troubleshooter

Go into the Run dialog box by pressing the Windows and R keys on your keyboard at the same time. Click the “Update and Security” option to continue.

In the box that comes up next, choose the Troubleshoot option. After that choose the “Run The Troubleshooter” option under Internet Connections.

After that, all you need to do is to let the troubleshooter run and when it’s done reboot your computer. Your issue should be solved and the WiFi icon should be back on your taskbar.

If absolutely everything above fails, then you may need to reinstall your laptops operating system to solve the WiFi icon issue.

Remember that you should always back up and save all your important files on your laptop before doing a Windows re-installation.

For more help on fixing network connection issues in Windows, visit this Microsoft troubleshooting Page

Ernie Lo

Ernie Lo is a qualified web designer and web developer. He works as an IT support technician and website manager at Benleigh Vending, and he also fixes vending machines.

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