Windows remembers Wi-Fi passwords to save you time, but you can save more time by exporting the saved passwords and transfering them to other computers. LastPass, WirelessKeyView, and Windows itself can back up your wireless passwords.
Both LastPass and Windows itself allow you to import the saved settings on other computers, while WirelessKeyView generates a text file listing the information you’ll need.
The LastPass password manager, which we’ve covered in-depth, recently added the ability to import and export your Wi-Fi passphrases. If you’re a LastPass user, you can save your Wi-Fi passphrases in your LastPass vault and automatically sync them between your computers.
To find this option, click the LastPass button, point to “Import From” and select “Wi-Fi Passwords.”
If you don’t see this option, you may not have an up-to-date version of LastPass installed. This feature requires LastPass 1.90 or later. You may also see an error message after you click this option — if you do, you’ll have to run the LastPass Universal Installer to install its Wi-Fi utility on your system.
You may see an error message when you click this option. If you do, you’ll have to run the LastPass Universal Installer to install the Wi-Fi utility.
Click the Import button on the new tab to import the saved Wi-Fi passwords and settings from your computer. You can toggle the check boxes to the left of each network if you only want to import settings from specific networks.
Export the passphrases on another computer by using the “Export To” menu to select the “Wi-Fi Passwords” option. LastPass will restore the saved networks, so you can connect to Wi-Fi access points without manually entering their passphrases.
Windows has its own way to backup Wi-Fi settings, which we’ve covered in the past. The drawback to this method is that you can only import one Wi-Fi network’s settings at a time.
First, open the Network and Sharing Center from the list of available Wi-Fi Networks.
Click the “Manage Wireless Networks” option at the left side of the window to see your saved Wi-Fi networks.
Use the Properties option in the right-click menu to select a specific network.
Click the “Copy this network profile to a USB flash drive” link and Windows will prompt you for a flash drive.
After the process is complete, you can plug the USB flash drive into another computer and double-click the ”setupSNK.exe” file on the flash drive to import your saved network settings.
You can also click over to the Security tab in a network’s properties window and click the “Show characters” check box to view its password.
If you have a lot of Wi-Fi passwords saved, you can use NirSoft’s free WirelessKeyView utility to view them all at the same time and export them to a text or HTML file.
Download the utility, double-click its .exe file in the .zip file and you’ll see a list of every saved wireless password on your system.
Select the networks you want to export and use the “Save Selected Items” option in the File menu to export them to a text file. You can also use the “HTML Report” option under the View menu to view the list in your web browser.
Each tool has its pros and cons. LastPass is ideal if you already use LastPass, while the method built into Windows itself is great for sharing a Wi-Fi network’s settings with people around you. WirelessKeyView saves the passwords to a simple text file, which is ideal for printing.
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.
- Published 03/2/12