How to see Wi-Fi passwords on an Android phone

What do you do when all you see is a sea of asterisks? (Hint: Rooting required.)

android nougat settings
Derek Walter

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A reader asks:

“I have a friend who can’t remember her Wi-Fi password and didn’t write it down anywhere. I have it stored on my Android phone (Galaxy S2), but when I check, instead of the plain text password all I can see is ***************. Is there a way to see the actual alphanumeric characters so I can help her recover the password?” 

If you’ve rooted your phone—or are willing to root your phone—you should be able to use a file manager such as ASTRO or Root Browser to find it:

Use your file manager to locate your data/misc/file folder, then look for wpa_supplicant.conf (there is a slight chance it could be wep_supplicant.conf if the network is secured using WEP instead of WPA).

Then, open the .conf file using a text editor, which is probably built into your file manager application. (If not, add one to your shopping list and head over to the Google Play Store!) You should be able to read the password in plain text at that point.

If that didn’t work, or if you don’t want to root your phone, you could also just reset the password. (Note: Rooting your Android device may result in voiding its warranty.) If you have no access to the router, you can try an app like WifiAnywhere, which also comes in handy if you’re trying to access Wi-Fi from an unfamiliar place. It lets you log in to routers connected to the network, and some routers have this as a standard option, which is very useful.

Alternatively, if you’re connected to your friend’s Wi-Fi network, you can access her router setup and check the password under Wi-Fi security. If all else fails, try contacting your service provider and get their support.

For more on rooting your Android phone:

This tip was originally published on IDG Answers, a reader-powered help desk for answering tech questions. 

This story, "How to see Wi-Fi passwords on an Android phone" was originally published by Greenbot.

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