A sign in an airport reading "Free Wi-Fi."
Igor Martis/Shuterstock.com

Sometimes a public wireless network will require you to validate your details locally before you can access the internet. This normally takes place via means of a pop-up window, but sometimes the login form never shows up.

Here are a few tricks you can use to force the login screen to appear in case it doesn’t show.

Try Accessing Websites or Router Logins

Some networks will dump you on the login page whenever you try to access any website. The first thing to do is simply open a browser and try to access something, like a simple web search or a trusty website (perhaps howtogeek.com).

For best results, open a private browsing (incognito) window and access a non-HTTPS website like nonhttps.com. This will prevent your browser from using cached DNS information to access a known site, which may trigger the network login page.

Non-HTTPS website in a private browsing session

You can also try using known “router login” addresses like,, and localhost. Third-party DNS servers have also been known to work, like (Google) and (Cloudflare).

Disable Alternative DNS

Using an alternative DNS server is a solid way to speed up browsing, but it may also prevent public login pages from appearing. To stop using an alternative DNS server, just follow the steps you used to set it up in the first place.

Changing DNS on macOS

When you’re done, don’t forget to set it up again so you can reap the benefits.

RELATED: Why You Shouldn't Use Your ISP's Default DNS Server

Try Restarting Your Device

If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to be working, restarting your device might be worth a shot. Before doing this you might want to try enabling Airplane Mode or disabling Wi-Fi, but a full reboot is still one of the best ways of fixing a huge number of tech problems.

Using Unsecured Networks? Invest in a VPN

You should avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for security reasons since bad actors can use them to snoop on your browsing activity and put your device at risk. The best solution is to use a secure network, or create a personal hotspot with your iPhone or Android device whenever you’re away from home.

If public Wi-Fi is your only choice, get a VPN and encrypt your browsing activity for peace of mind.

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Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He has covered a wide range of topics including Apple, security, productivity tips, gaming and more for publications like How-To Geek, Zapier, and MakeUseOf.
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