Installing a new operating system can sometimes lead to unexpected challenges, especially when it comes to hardware compatibility. One common issue users may face when installing Windows 11 is that the Wi-Fi adapter is not detected during the network selection phase of the installation process. This can happen if the necessary drivers for the Wi-Fi adapter are not included in the installation media or if a specialized driver is required.
This guide provides a step-by-step process to manually install the Wi-Fi driver during the Windows 11 installation process. By following these instructions, you will be able to download the appropriate driver from the device manufacturer's website, extract it to a USB drive, and install it using the Command Prompt during the Windows 11 installation.
Whether you're an IT professional managing multiple installations or an individual user upgrading a personal computer, this guide will help you navigate this specific challenge and ensure a smooth installation process.
Identify the Wi-Fi Adapter: Determine the exact model of the Wi-Fi adapter you are using. This information can usually be found in the device's manual or the specifications of your computer.
Download the Driver: From another device with internet access, visit the manufacturer's support website (e.g., dell.com/support) and download the appropriate driver for your Wi-Fi adapter and operating system (Windows 11). Make sure to get the correct version for your system architecture (32-bit or 64-bit).
Extract the Driver to a USB Drive: If the driver is in a compressed format (such as ZIP), extract the files to a USB drive. Ensure that the USB drive is formatted with a file system that is recognizable by Windows (e.g., FAT32 or NTFS).
Boot into Windows 11 Installation: Start the Windows 11 installation process on the target computer. Proceed until you reach the network selection screen where the Wi-Fi adapter is not detected.
Open Command Prompt: Press "Shift + F10" to open the Command Prompt.
Navigate to the USB Drive: Use the
dircommand to identify the drive letter of your USB drive, and then navigate to it using the
cdcommand. For example:shell
dir D: cd path\to\driver
Install the Driver: If the driver package contains multiple INF files in different subfolders, use the following command to recursively search and install all INF files:shell
for /R %f in (*.inf) do pnputil /add-driver "%f" /install
This command will attempt to install all INF files found in the current directory and its subdirectories. Monitor the output messages to see the result of each installation attempt.
Reattempt Network Selection: Close the Command Prompt and return to the Windows 11 installation process. Your Wi-Fi adapter should now be detected, and you can proceed with the installation as usual.
Note: The exact steps may vary depending on the specific Wi-Fi adapter, the structure of the driver files, and the version of Windows 11 you are installing. Always refer to the documentation provided by the device manufacturer or consult with their support if you encounter any issues. This method installs all INF files found, and while usually harmless, it might be less efficient. Use this method with caution, and if possible, consult the manufacturer's documentation to identify the correct INF file.