If you've ever tried to connect to public Wi-Fi only to have the login page not appear then this guide is for you. In this guide we're looking at how you can force the login page to appear so you can access the internet.
It used to be the case that public Wi-Fi networks generally had no password on them or a password which you obtained from whoever was running the network, such as the Coffee Shop or Airport.
Having no password on a public Wi-Fi network is incredibly insecure, however, having one that everyone can access, such as written on the Cafe menu isn't much better either.
Then someone came up with the bright idea of having no password but restricting the network with web-based login screen, this is where the problems can start.
The never opening login screen
When you connect to public Wi-Fi that offers this type of login usually the Wi-Fi network is open requiring no password.
Once you connect it's supposed to force your web browser to open and display a login screen.
This login screen can range from requiring a username and password, require you to register before access or in extremely silly cases, just require you to press a further button to login.
But what happens when that login screen doesn't open?
Yes, we've all been there. We've connected to a public Wi-Fi network, waited a few seconds and then manually opened our web-browser, tried to access Facebook or launched our favourite chat app only to be told there's no network connection.
You know internet access is just beyond reach of that pesky login screen, but it just won't show up.
You try everything, reconnecting, visiting Google, nothing. Internet access is just at your fingertips but you can't get at it.
At first I was surprised internet access even existed on the low budget carrier. Secondly that it was free which was even more of a bonus. Most annoying though, that damn login screen didn't open.
It usually happens at the worse moments too when you're time limited, in an airport, at a coffee shop, on a plane. You just don't have time to be wasting trying to figure these things out.
How to access Wi-Fi login screens that won't open
The good news is there are a few tricks you can try to force that login screen to open and below we've listed the most common solutions.
Reconnect to the Wi-Fi network.
Often if you're too fast in trying to access your apps or other services you can knock the process out of sync. The easiest method is to reconnect to the Wi-Fi network and wait 30 seconds before doing anything to see if the login page opens.
In the case of my Nok Air flight, the login screen opened on my laptop but not on my mobile phone or the phone of my travelling partner.
If you managed to get the login screen on one device, note the URL or the IP Address displayed in the address bar of your web-browser and manually enter this into the devices that aren't connecting.
If you're wondering, the URL for Nok Air was https://wifi.nokair.com
Try to access any website, eg; Google.
If you're very lucky, just opening a new web-browser and entering a website such as http://www.google.com will force the network to redirect you to the correct login screen.
You may need to try using InCognito or InPrivate browsing modes for this to work.
Try entering some local network IP's and hostnames in your web-browser address bar. Such as these:
These should force the Wi-Fi network to redirect you to the login screen.
If it doesn't work, turn it off and on again.
The age old solution to all computer related issues. If you still can't get it to work then simply turning your laptop, tablet or phone off and on again and reconnecting to the Wi-Fi network may just be enough to force the login page to open.
Public Wi-Fi is not secure, stay protected
Now that you've hopefully managed to get the pesky login screen open and connected to the internet it's worth spending a few minutes thinking about your online security.
The public Wi-Fi network you've just connected to is not secure.
That means it's possible for someone else on the same network to read your emails, see what websites you're accessing, who you're chatting too and more.
It's not possible in all cases and we don't want to scare you, but it's more related to the services you access and how they secure you.
It is even possible for someone else on the same Wi-Fi network to access your Facebook account if you're currently logged in.
How to protect yourself on public Wi-Fi
To mitigate against this it's worth considering getting an app called a VPN.
A VPN is an app that secures your connection by using something called encryption. Encryption basically jumbles up everything that you're doing so it becomes unreadable to others.
VPN services come as simple apps that are available for most Android, iOS, Windows and Mac devices.
- See Also: Our Best VPN for Android Guide
A good service will set you back around US$3 – 6 per month (approximately £4 – £7) depending on how long you sign up for. They're also incredibly easy to use. All you do is connect to the public Wi-Fi network, enable the VPN app and carry on as normal. Everything you do is now protected and secured from prying eyes.
Now, back to it, you're probably time limited on that Wi-Fi network you've now got access to!