Windows 7, like its predecessors, remembers and saves (on user consent) the network security key or password on first connection to a secured wireless (WiFi) network which is protected by WEP, WPA or WPA2, so that Windows 7 can automatically authenticate, sign in and connect to the Internet through the wireless access point or WiFi hotspot on every system startup.

For many reason, end users may want to retrieve or view the WEP, WPA or WPA2 protected wireless network security key. For example, lost or forgotten administrator password making it impossible to view the serial key on the Wi-Fi wireless gateway or router, or need to setup new computer to access the Internet through same wireless network adapter or Wi-Fi hotspot.

The quickest way to get the network security key for an existing wireless connection, of course, is from the PC or computer which is currently connected to the wireless network. Although the network security key is saved and stored in local Windows computer, Windows OS does not provide an easy way to retrieve, view or display the network security key or password on screen, in plain text and not hidden as asterisk, until Windows 7.

How to Recover, Retrieve, Show or Display Network Security Key for WEP, WPA or WPA2 Protected Secure Wireless Network in Windows 7

  1. Go to Control Panel -> Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center.
  2. Click on Manage wireless networks on the left pane.

    Manage Wireless Network

  3. A list of wireless networks that the PC used to connect to with saved password or security key. Click to highlight on a wireless network connection that user wants to view its network security key, and the right click on it and select Properties.

    Wireless Network Properties

  4. Click on Security tab.
  5. The network security key for the wireless network is hidden by asterisk by default. Instead of using utilities to reveal, display or show original characters of password or key hidden behind asterisks, click on Show characters button to reveal and display the actual original network security key on screen.

    Wireless Network Security Key

Check out more Windows 7 usage guides, tips and tricks.