And don’t call me Shirley: Airplane mode explained

Can’t turn on your Wi-Fi? Maybe you’re in Airplane mode. And please back away from the cappuccino machine! You can still play Windows 7 games after the Windows 10 Creators Update.


What the heck is Airplane mode and why should I care?

If you fly, you’re probably used Airplane mode on your cellphone, iPad, or other tablet. Enabling Airplane mode turns off Wi-Fi, cellular data, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC. You have to do that to comply with government regulations for many countries. (Yes, you could turn off the device completely instead, but then you can’t play your Solitaire or Scrabble games on the plane.)

Airplane Mode is also available on PC’s running modern versions of Windows. I encounter it most often when Airplane mode has been turned on by accident, and my customer can’t figure out why their Wi-Fi isn’t working.

If you notice that your Wi-Fi is off and no matter what you do you can’t seem to turn it back on again, see if you’re in Airplane mode. Once you turn Airplane mode off, your Wi-Fi will work again. You’ll see an airplane icon in your Taskbar.

Click on the Airplane icon to turn it off, or use any of these methods:

Action Center

  • Click on the Action Center icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen or swipe left on a touchscreen or tablet
  • Click or tap in the Airplane mode icon to toggle off and on

Airplane key

If your computer’s keyboard has a key with a picture of an airplane on it, use that to toggle off and on.


  • Start | Settings | Network & Internet |Airplane mode
  • Move the slider to toggle off and on

That *should* do it, but sometimes your computer gets stuck in Airplane mode and none of those methods works. If that happens, press and hold the FN key (“Function key”) and the Print Screen key at the same time. Press and hold them for about a second, and you should see a notification that Airplane mode is off. Let go. Your Wi-Fi will turn on again.

I think most of the time when Airplane mode is activated by accident, it’s people trying to take a screen shot with that Print Screen key and not realizing they’re leaning on the FN key while doing it, kind of like the jumping cursor problem.


Yes, yes, yes. You absolutely can still play Windows 7 games on Windows 10

I’ve mentioned several times how to get your old Windows 7 games onto your Windows 10 (and Windows 8!) PCs

I’ve done the Creators Update on quite a few computers now, and without fail, that update kills off those games.

Do not despair. All you need to do is reinstall them. Visit this page. Download the file. Unzip and install the games you want. Be sure to decline the toolbar if you don’t need or want it. Enjoy!


Do you need help with your computer? I’m here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to

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This column appeared on April 24, 2017