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What Is An SSID And How to Change It

When you connect to a WiFi network, you identify it by its name. At home, your WiFi is likely named something generic related to your ISP or perhaps your router. It’s also common knowledge that you can change your WiFi network’s name but there’s no specific field for that in your router’s admin panel. That’s because the option doesn’t appear as ‘Network name’. Instead, it’s called SSID or Service Set Identifier. It’s the name for your WiFi network.

A WiFi network is discoverable via its SSID. When you click to connect to a WiFi network on your desktop or tap the option on your phone, a list of nearby networks appears and that name is basically what you’ve set under SSID for your network. You may have noticed that sometimes, the same network appears more than once in the list of available networks.

Multiple Networks With The Same Name

Multiple networks with the same name isn’t a glitch and it’s not the same network. Multiple networks can have the same SSID. There is nothing stopping someone from naming their network the same as yours and the only affect it has is that it’s not easy to distinguish one network from the other when someone is trying to connect to it. Other than that, your WiFi password, your bandwidth, your browsing history, and everything else is safe.

When a user tries to connect to a WiFi network that has the same SSID as another one, they’re prompted for the password. Only if the password matches the one set for the SSID will they be allowed to connect to it. No one can, for example, use the password for a WiFi network that has the same SSID as yours to connect to your network.

Think of it like this; you live in a street where everyone has a green door i.e. same SSID, but each door unlocks with its own unique key i.e., passsword.

Characteristics Of An SSID

An SSID can be 32 characters long and it’s case sensitive. For example; MyWiFiNetwork and mywifinetwork are not the same thing. Special characters aren’t allowed in an SSID but you can use a space if you want. This of course only matters if you’re configuring anything. For users who want to connect to the network, they only need to know the name, and the password.

Change SSID

Changing a WiFi network’s name i.e., its SSID is pretty easy if you know how to access your router’s admin panel, and you have the login credentials for it.

It isn’t possible to explain where you can find the setting in the admin panel because it will be different for every router there is. It’s best if you Google it. Generally, you can find it under the Wireless section in the admin panel but it might be some place else. Seriously, Google it.

There’s no compulsion to change your WiFi network’s name however, it’s usually a good idea to do so. If you’re often in range of other networks that have the same, default name as your connection, you’re going to be more inclined to change it anyway.

We should mention that you can hide your SSID. There’s an option for it in the admin panel. Hiding an SSID is often as easy as checking a box but connecting to a network with a hidden SSID is slightly different.

Hidden SSID

It’s pretty easy to connect to a WiFi network with a hidden SSID.

Windows 10

Click the WiFi icon in the system tray. If there’s a hidden network in range, you will see ‘Hidden Network’ in the list of available networks. Click it. You will be asked to enter the name of the network, and the password. This is the rare case where you need to know the SSID and be mindful of uppercase/lowercase letters, and spaces.

Windows 7, 8/8.1/10

Alternatively, you can connect to a hidden network via the Control Panel as well. Open File Explorer and paste the following in the location bar.

Control Panel\Network and Internet\Network and Sharing Center

Click ‘Set up a new connection or network’, and in the next window that opens, select Manually connect to a network.

On the next window, enter the name and password for the network, and you will be able to connect to it.

macOS

On macOS, it’s much easier to connect to a network with a hidden SSID. Click the WiFi icon in the menu bar and select the ‘Join other network’ option.

Enter the name of the network and its password in the window that opens, and you’re good to go.

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