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How to Turn off Wireless Cards on Dell laptops

written by: Bruce Tyson•edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 5/31/2010

Users benefit from learning how to turn off the wireless card on a Dell laptop. First, they improve security by disconnecting from the network when it is not needed. Users also save battery power by turning off the adapter. Finally, users can recover after inadvertently switching the network off.

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    The ability to turn off wireless cards on Dell laptops is a standard feature. In an age where hackers are rampant, many users do not know that they can turn off the wireless network card in their laptop. By learning how to turn off the wireless card on a Dell laptop, users can increase the security of their computer. Also, with the wireless adapter turned on, Dell laptops can consume more battery power, so turning it off makes sense if it is not needed. Finally, countless users hit the key combination by accident, disabling their wireless network card and requiring a service call to have it restored. By knowing how to turn off a wireless card on Dell laptops users will know how to turn it back on, saving that hassle and expense.

    There are three ways to turn off the wireless card on a Dell laptop: (1) Using the BIOS settings, (2) Using the Dell Wireless Utility and (3) using the keyboard hotkey.

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    Using the BIOS Settings to Turn off the Wireless Card on a Dell Laptop

    The most basic way to turn off the wireless card on a Dell laptop is to disable it in the BIOS settings. To enter the BIOS configuration pages, press <F2> as the system boots. Because some models have different BIOS versions and revisions, there can be slight variations in the setup. The best thing to do is consult the manual for your machine or just page through the BIOS settings until you come to the wireless card. Change the setting for the wireless to "Disabled" or "Off," save your changes and then exit the BIOS setup. Your computer will restart without access to its wireless card.

    If you are not comfortable entering the system BIOS settings or if you need to toggle the state of your wireless card faster, you can try using the Dell Wireless Utility.

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    Using the Dell Wireless Utility to Turn off the Wireless Card on a Dell Laptop

    Every Dell laptop with wireless comes with the Dell Wireless WLAN Card Utility program. This utility is accessible by clicking the Windows "Start" button and then clicking "All Programs." Browse to the Dell program groups and select "Dell Wireless" and then "Dell Wireless WLAN Utility." This utility can be used to turn off the wireless card on a Dell laptop.Dell Wireless Utility 

    When the program starts, uncheck the "Enable Radio" checkbox.

    Dell WLAN Utilitiy - Disable Depending on which version of the Dell Wireless WLAN Utility your computer has, you may need to right click the Dell Wireless Utility tray icon and select "Disable Radio" from the menu.

    Dell Radio Context Menu Option Just in case neither of the first two methods appeal to you, there is one more method to turn off the wireless card on a Dell laptop: the hotkey.

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    Using the Dell Keyboard to Turn off the Wireless Card on a Dell Laptop

    Dell laptops come with a hotkey that will toggle the wireless card between "Enabled" and "Disabled." On most models, it is done by pressing the <F2> key. You have to be careful about this though because the Dell BIOS has an option to set the default behavior of the function keys. In the BIOS, you can choose to have the <F2> function to be the default action of the <F2> key. In that case, the wireless card is toggled by pressing the <Fn> key and <F2> simultaneously.

    If you have not changed the default action in the BIOS, <F2> will toggle wireless. Because this is the default setting for most units, many people understandably disable their wireless card by accident. If this happens, you could end up paying for a service call when all you need to do is hit <F2> again to turn the wireless card back on.