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The nature of the modern world makes it hard to be away from a Wi-Fi connection for too long. No emails, Spotify, or Instagram—and slow 3G internet—is the stuff of nightmares.
If you need to find the nearest free Wi-Fi connection, there are a few different strategies you can employ. Let’s take a closer look at how to find free Wi-Fi locations near you.
1. Use a Wi-Fi Hotspot Finder App on Your Phone
A few smartphone apps can find nearby free Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi Map is a Wi-Fi finder for Android and iOS. It has more than 100 million Wi-Fi points to choose from. They’re spread across the entire planet, making the app a solid choice for travelers.
The app excels thanks to its active community. They’ve added millions of passwords for protected hotspots. For convenience, all locations are displayed on a searchable map.
There’s also an offline mode. It means you’ll be able to locate a hotspot even if you don’t have a phone or internet signal.
Wefi is another free Wi-Fi finder for Android and iPhone. It offers access to millions of hotspots around the world. As you’d expect, all the points are clearly laid out on a map and easy to locate.
Other features include a filter that lets you narrow your search results, plus a vibrant community that shares passwords and other tips for each location.
Wefi is free and does not include ads.
Download: Wefi for Android | iOS (Free) [No Longer Available]
Wi-Fi Master Key
Wi-Fi Master Key follows a similar mold to the two previous apps: open the app, hit the search button, and you’ll see a list of all the nearby Wi-Fi spots that other users have shared. Locations are available all over the globe.
The app will not reveal any of your Wi-Fi passwords; everything is encrypted automatically.
Download: Wi-Fi Master Key for Android | iOS (Free)
2. Use a Web App to Find Free Wi-Fi
If you’re working on a desktop computer and want to find places with Wi-Fi near you, it might make sense to use a web app rather than your operating system’s native Wi-Fi tool.
Wi-Fi Space is one such web app to help you find Wi-Fi hotspots. The color-coded map helps you easily and quickly recognize free Wi-Fi (green), private networks with known passwords (yellow), and private networks with unknown passwords (red).
When you load the site, the zoomable map displays at the top of the page. You can also search by city, either directly on the map or by using the location catalog.
Note: Wi-Fi Space also produces a Wi-Fi finder app for Android and iOS.
Download: Wi-Fi Finder for Android [No Longer Available] | iOS (Free)
If you live in the United States, Canada, Europe, or Australia, you can check out OpenWiFiSpots to find free Wi-Fi near you.
The website isn’t as elegant as Wi-Fi Space, but it will point you in the direction of 66,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots in the US alone. About 150 new free Wi-Fi locations are added every week.
To find free Wi-Fi, either enter a city in the search box or select a location from the list on the right-hand side of the page.
3. Visit a Restaurant With Free Wi-Fi
These days, many restaurants offer free Wi-Fi. For example, more than 11,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the US provide free Wi-Fi to their customers. The same applies to Starbucks, Denny’s, IHOP, and many more.
Some of the companies make it easy to know which of their branches offer Wi-Fi. Starbucks, for example, lets you filter by the availability of Wi-Fi on its store locator.
But even if you’re not near a big chain, there are probably lots of smaller coffee shops near you with free Wi-Fi.
4. Discover Other Public Places With Free Wi-Fi
In any town or city, you can discover lots of public places with free Wi-Fi available. Some prime contenders include libraries, train stations, airports, and bus depots.
Remember, the free Wi-Fi apps we discussed earlier can help you find free Wi-Fi, but they’re not perfect. The databases are not necessarily complete; some Wi-Fi networks will be missing. It’s always worth checking in person.
And if you’re really desperate, ask in any small businesses that you walk past. At worst, they’ll say no.
5. Create a Hotspot With Your Smartphone
One of the easiest ways to instantly connect your computer to the web is to create a hotspot on your phone.
Of course, a phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot isn’t technically free; you’ve probably already paid for the data in your monthly bill. However, it’s free in that you don’t need to spend any money at the moment you want to go online.
6. Use Nearby ISP Hotspots
Lots of ISPs offer free hotspots to their customers. Again, this isn’t truly free, as it requires you to pay your internet bill every month. However, you won’t need to pay anything extra when you connect.
If you live in the US and are a customer of Cox Communications, Optimum, Spectrum, or Xfinity, you can use the Cable Wi-Fi network. Combined, the network offers more than 500,000 Wi-Fi hotspots. Similar networks are available in other countries.
Typically, you only need your ISP username and password to log in. Some ISPs even offer free Android and iOS apps to help you find their Wi-Fi connections. Contact your ISP directly if you need more information.
More Ways to Get Internet Access Easily
We’ve introduced you to a few tools and tricks you’ll need if you want free Wi-Fi near your location. Hopefully, they’ll help you get online no matter where you are.