How to set up file sharing in Windows 10

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Apps and services like Google Drive and Dropbox are great ways to share stuff between your own devices, but they're not the only way.

You can share files and folders through your home network too. It might sound complicated, but don't worry, we've written this super-helpful guide to help you get it sorted.

HomeGroup vs File Explorer

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There are a couple of different ways to share files on a Windows 10 computer, by setting up a 'HomeGroup' or using File Explorer. Knowing how they both work will help you choose the best way to share your files.

Microsoft are rumoured to be removing the Homegroup feature from the latest build of Windows 10 when it's released this spring. It should still work on older versions of the OS all the way back to Windows 7, but its time is running out.

HomeGroup

HomeGroups are a simple way to share your stuff with other people on your network, as long as their computers run Windows 7 or newer. They're quick to set up and join, which makes them ideal for both novice and advanced users.

HomeGroups are based on users sharing things. When you join a HomeGroup, you'll see the usernames of all the group's members, and the files they share.

File Explorer

Sharing files with File Explorer is a bit more complicated, but gives much better results. Other people can see your shared files no matter what operating system they use.

Users will see all the computers on the network. They might have to log in to an account on the target computer to view the files.

Sharing using Windows HomeGroup

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If there's a HomeGroup available on your network, click the button to join it. If not, you can set one up.

Set up a new HomeGroup

Setting up a new HomeGroup only takes a few clicks, follow these steps to share your files in moments:

 
 
 
 
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1.

Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Status > HomeGroup.

2.

If there's no HomeGroup already set up, click Create a homegroup.

3.

Read the information onscreen, then click Next.

 
 
 
 
choose what to share
 
 
 
 
homegroup password
 
 
 
 
shared items
4.

Choose which Libraries you want to share using the drop-down options, then click Next.

5.

Make a note of the password, you'll need to enter this on your other computers to join the group. Click Finish to create the HomeGroup.

6.

When the settings update, you'll see which Libraries and devices you're sharing.

Join a HomeGroup

It only takes a moment or two (and the right password) to join a HomeGroup. Once you're in, you won't be asked to enter the password again unless you leave the group and re-join.

 

 
 
 
 
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choose what to share
1.

Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Status > HomeGroup.

2.

If a HomeGroup's available, you'll see information about it in the window. Click Join now.

3.

Click Next on the information window, then use the drop-downs to choose what to share with the group. Click Next again.

 
 
 
 
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4.

Type the HomeGroup password (anyone who has joined the group has access to it) and click Next to join.

5.

Click Finish to complete the setup.

Now you've created (or joined) a HomeGroup, you can use the Control Panel page to manage it. There are options to manage the password, change what you're sharing, or leave the group.

When you're happy with the settings, close the window by clicking the X at the top-right corner.

Sharing files with a HomeGroup

When you've joined a HomeGroup, it's easy to share files and folders to it:

Open File Explorer (Win+E) and go to the file or folder you'd like to share. Right-click on the item, then move the cursor to Give access to:

You'll see several options including 'view' and 'view and edit'. Click view to let group members see the file, or view and edit to let them change it. You can also 'Remove access' to stop sharing an item.

After you've chosen, anyone in the group will have access to it through the HomeGroup link in File Explorer. If you only want to share the item with one person instead of the whole group, pick their name or click Specific People.

Stop sharing a file with the HomeGroup

Navigate to the item, right click and choose Give access to > Remove access.

 

Sharing through File Explorer

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Use File Explorer to share files and folders with specific people, or anyone on the network. You always have control over what you've shared, and whether other users can look at or edit your files.

 

Share an item on your network

Here's how to share files or folders with other users on your network.

 
 
 
 
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1.

Open File Explorer and find the item you'd like to share.

2.

Right-click on the item, then click Give access to > Specific people.

3.

Click the drop-down to choose someone to share the item with:

  • 'Named user': Choose another user account on this computer.
  • 'Everyone': Share the item with any user on the network
  • 'Create a new user': Set up a new user account on the computer to share the item with.

When you've chosen the user or group to share with, click Add.

4.

Click Share to make the changes you've selected, then click Done to close.

File permissions

File permissions control what can happen to items you've shared. Usually, they'll be either 'Read' or 'Read/Write'.

By default, Windows 10 shares files and folders in 'Read' mode. Users will be able to open them, but they can't save any changes to the original file.

To let others change a file, or add items to a shared folder, you'll have to give them permission.

To change permissions for an item, follow steps 1-3 above. After you've added the name of the user or group, click the drop-down to change the permission level for that user to Read/Write before clicking Share.

Stop sharing an item

Navigate to the item, right click and choose Give access to > Remove access.

 

Opening a shared file

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You can open a file that's been shared with you just like you'd open one of your own, as long as you can find it. If you've joined a Homegroup, you'll see it on the left-hand panel of File Explorer, as well as any network shared assets.

Click Homegroup to expand the list of members, and see what they're sharing. You'll only see members that are currently logged on to a computer.

Click Network to see which computers are sharing files and folders. As long as the computer's running, you'll see any network shares, no matter which user is logged in to the computer.

 

That should be everything you need to know about sharing files and folders using Windows 10, but you can contact an expert from Team Knowhow if you'd like to learn more.

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