Unfortunately, most of us will experience a slow or lagging internet connection. Although frustrating, it’s bound to happen. Is your Wi-Fi signal strength weak, or is it something else?
To help diagnose the problem, it’s a good idea to see if the problem is, in fact, your Wi-Fi network. In this article, we’ll show you several ways to check your Wi-Fi signal strength on both a PC and a Mac.
Check Wi-Fi Signal Strength on a Mac
If your Mac sometimes lags while surfing the internet, yours isn’t the only one. This all-too-common issue has affected most Mac users more than once. To properly diagnose the problem, your Mac’s Wi-Fi signal is a good place to start. A weak signal could cause a poor internet experience, with websites loading slowly or refusing to load completely.
Unlike a PC, there’s only one way to check your Mac’s Wi-Fi signal strength without third-party apps. Fortunately, this method will give you all the information you need to determine if your Wi-Fi signal is causing your issues.
Directly From the Wi-Fi Icon
Check your Wi-Fi signal strength on a Mac using the Wi-Fi icon. With a simple click, you’ll quickly see the quality of your Wi-Fi signal. To use this method, follow these steps:
- Locate the “Wi-Fi” icon at the top of the screen.
- Click on the icon while pressing the “Alt” key.
A drop-down window will open that contains a variety of information.
First, look at the wireless icon located in this new window. The higher the number of solid bars it has, the stronger your Wi-Fi signal strength. One solid bar would represent a very weak connection, while if all of them are solid, your connection is strong.
Here you’ll also find valuable information like the TX Rate. Expressed in Mbps (megabits per second), this is the transfer rate between your device and the wireless router. However, this isn’t the same as the speed of your ISP (Internet Service Provider).
Using the above method to determine your Mac’s Wi-Fi strength isn’t the only way to check it. There are numerous third-party apps available. If you prefer to use an app, listed below are two of the more popular ones available.
NetSpot is a free Wi-Fi analyzer. It’s marketed more towards IT professionals who require a deeper understanding of how their multiple wireless networks perform but can be used by anyone. NetSpot will monitor and analyze your home or office wireless network to help you discover dead zones and other network issues.
WiFi Explorer is another popular Wi-Fi analyzer. Although not free, it does come with a 3-day trial period. It’s also for the IT professional but can be for personal use. This app will monitor and analyze your entire wireless network, helping you to troubleshoot and diagnose network issues.
Check Wi-Fi Signal Strength on a Windows PC
When your PC is connected to the internet, it usually does so via a wireless connection. The quality of the signal will determine your PC’s performance when connected to the internet. Checking your connection signal strength will help you troubleshoot whether it’s the issue or something else.
Fortunately, there are several ways to check your Wi-Fi signal strength. Some methods will only provide limited information, while others will give you more details. These are techniques that work for both Windows 10 and 11 versions.
Use the Taskbar
One of the easiest ways to check your Wi-Fi signal strength is by utilizing the taskbar. This method won’t give you any great insights, but it’s a quick and effective way to see the quality of your connection. Here’s how you do it:
- Locate the “Network” icon on the taskbar and click it. A new window will open.
- Look at the icon for your wireless network. The higher the number of solid bars, the stronger the signal.
Three to four bars indicate a strong signal, while one to two would be considered weak.
Use Your Settings
Another fast way to check your Wi-Fi signal strength is to use your PC’s settings. Much like the taskbar method, you won’t get much information, but it’s still an efficient way to check for signal strength. To use this method, follow these steps:
- Click on “Start,” type in the word “Settings,” and then tap on the “Settings” icon.
- Using the left-pane menu, press “Network & Internet.”
- Locate and select “Status.”
- In the Status window, look at the wireless icon. The higher the number of solid bars, the stronger your Wi-Fi connection is.
Use Wi-Fi Settings
You can also check your Wi-Fi signal strength by looking at your Wi-Fi settings. This method is similar to checking your general settings and will provide you with enough information to know if your signal is strong or weak. To do so, follow these instructions:
- Press on “Start,” then type in the word “Settings.”
- Click on the “Settings” icon.
- From the left-pane menu, choose “Network & Internet.”
- Here you’ll find your “Wi-Fi” icon. Look at how many solid bars it has next to it. The higher the number of solid bars, the stronger your signal strength is.
Use the Control Panel
Another way to check your Wi-Fi signal strength is to utilize the control panel. This option gives you more information than the previous methods. If you’d like to use this option, follow these steps:
- Click on “Start,” type “Control Panel,” and select the “Control Panel” icon.
- Tap “Network & Internet.”
- Find and choose “Network & Sharing Center.”
- Locate the “Wireless” icon and check to see how many solid bars it displays. The higher the number of solid bars, the stronger your connection.
- Click on the wireless connection name to the right of the wireless icon.
- A new window will open. Here you can find more information about your wireless connection.
To the right of “Signal Quality,” you’ll see a display of bars representing signal strength. But more importantly, just above that, you’ll see “Speed.” You’ll see how fast your internet speed is to the right of it. This will give you the information to determine if your internet speed is acceptable.
My Wi-Fi signal strength is strong, but websites are still slow to load. What else should I check?
If you’ve determined that your Wi-Fi signal strength is strong, the next place to check is to see if your internet speed is the culprit. You can quickly check your internet speed using a website that tests these speeds. One of the easiest to use is Speedtest.net.
Quickly Determine Wi-Fi Signal Strength
If webpages are loading slowly or your streaming videos are lagging, your first step should be to see if the issue is a weak Wi-Fi signal. For Mac users, you can get all of the information you need using the Wi-Fi icon. Windows users have several options and can use the taskbar, settings, or control panel to see their signal strength.
Have you checked your Wi-Fi signal strength on a PC or Mac? Did you use the same methods discussed in this article? Let us know in the comments section below.