How to troubleshoot your Chromebook's internet connection

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Network issues are bad, but they’re worse with a Chromebook. Chromebooks thrive on an active Internet connection, even though apps are being developed for offline use. When that connection is severed, the Chromebook can be like a fish out of water.

While there are ways to get work done while offline on a Chromebook, chances are you’ll need your connection back as fast as possible. With a few simple steps, you can get your Chromebook back online where it belongs.

Where the wireless settings are

There are two places where you can make changes to your wireless settings on a Chromebook. The most convenient route is through the status area in the bottom right-hand corner of your Chromebook’s shelf.

wireless portion of the status bar

The Chromebook’s wireless options can be reached via the status bar at the bottom right of the shelf on the home screen.

Click anywhere in the status area to expand it: Among other basic settings, it’ll show your current connection in the Network bar near the top. If you’re connected to a network, it should say, “Connected to [Network Name].”

scan and connect to different networks

When you scan for networks, a list of Wi-Fi networks will appear in the status area popup.

If it says “No Network,” click the box to open up a list of available Wi-Fi Networks. You can click Join other... or Settings at the bottom to enter a network manually.

Click the Settings bar at the bottom of the expanded status area to launch into the full Settings page within the Chrome browser, which delves deeper into your Chromebook’s settings. In the Internet Connection section at the top, you can allow proxies for shared networks and edit your saved wireless connections.

wireless settings in chrome

The wireless settings in Chrome are a bit more advanced than the simple controls in the status bar.

Make sure your Chromebook is connected to Wi-Fi

If the password for the network you’re trying to connect to has changed, you’ll need to re-configure the connection to update the password. From the list of available networks in the Settings tab in Chrome, click the network name you want to connect to.

check your wpa password

Check that your WPA password is indeed correct by clicking on Configure.

Click the Configure button at the bottom of the pop-up window to enter the new password and click Connect.

enter new wpa password

In the dialog that pops up, enter the WPA password for your WI-Fi network.

Run Google’s diagnostic tool

If you’re actually connected to a network but are having issues with your connection, you’ll want to run Google’s Chrome Connectivity Diagnostics App built specifically for Chromebooks.

google diagnostic tool not connected

Google’s Diagnostic Tool will help you identify connection problems and reccommend action if there is anything you can do.

The app runs a detailed diagnostic that gives you in-depth information on what could be causing you trouble. It makes sure Chrome is up-to-date, checks for a DNS server, and it also checks whether internet traffic is being blocked by a captive portal.

google diagnostic tool issue identified

The Diagnostic Tool will test each part of your connection to find what’s slowing you down or keeping you from working.

Reboot all the things!

If you’ve tried everything listed above, your laptop likely isn’t the problem. When in doubt, follow the age-old advice of turning everything off and on again.

Turn your Chromebook off, turn the modem off, and turn off the router if you have a separate one. Wait a good minute or two, then begin rebooting your devices. Start with the modem, followed by the router and then, finally, your Chromebook. If that doesn’t fix your problem, move on to the next step.

Check other computers

The next step is to figure out whether it’s your Chromebook or the wireless network itself causing problems. Try to connect another device to the wireless network. If that device can use the web when connected to Wi-Fi, the problem is with your Chromebook. If not, the router may be at fault.

Test the wired network

If none of your other devices can connect to the Internet through Wi-Fi, there may be some other problem with your router. To test this, you’ll have to try connecting your Chromebook—or another computer—to the router the old-fashioned way: with an ethernet cable.

Unfortunately, most Chromebooks don’t have an ethernet port. If you’ve made the commitment to use a Chromebook as your regular machine, you should probably invest in a $13 USB-to-ethernet adapter.

If you can connect to the Web through the ethernet cable, you’ve discovered that it’s definitely the wireless network causing you grief. If not, the router, modem, or your ISP are the likely culprits.

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