How to Create a Shared Folder

Windows includes two methods to share folders on a network. HomeGroup, a simple method of setting up sharing, works not only with the Music, Videos and other libraries offered during HomeGroup setup, but for almost any folder on the computer. To network with older computers, computers without Windows or to share certain system folders, you need to use an advanced alternative. Sharing files between several accounts on a single computer does not require a HomeGroup, but the process follows most of the same steps as sharing a folder through HomeGroup.

Two businessmen in office typing on computer and s
All computers connected to the same router can share folders.
credit: Cathy Yeulet/Hemera/Getty Images

Sharing Locally or With HomeGroup

Step

Browse to the folder you want to share and select it without opening it. To share a brand new folder, press "Control-Shift-N" to create one.

Step

Open the "Share" tab. The tab shows a list of user accounts on your computer as well as your HomeGroup, if you have one.

Step

Click "HomeGroup (View)" or "HomeGroup (View and Edit)" to share the selected folder with the HomeGroup. The former option prevents users on other computers from modifying files in the folder, while the latter permits editing.

Step

Click a local user's name to share the selected folder with that user. All users can access most folders on the computer without turning on sharing, so the only folders you'll normally need to share locally are those in your Windows user folder, such as My Documents.

Step

Choose "Yes, Share the Items" if a warning screen appears. To unshare the folder later, press "Stop Sharing" on the Share tab.

Advanced Network Sharing

Step

Locate the folder you want to share or press "Control-Shift-N" to create a new one. Right-click the folder and choose "Properties."

Step

Open the "Sharing" tab and click "Advanced Sharing." If a User Account Control warning pops up, press "Yes" to continue.

Step

Check "Share This Folder." Change the name in the "Share" box if you want to give the folder a different name on the network than it has on your PC.

Step

Click "Permissions" to change who can access the folder. By default, everyone on your network can view the folder and its contents, but no one can modify it. Check the "Allow" box on the "Change" line if you want to grant everyone permission to edit the folder and its contents.

Step

Press "Add" and enter user names separated by semicolons to grant the ability to view or edit files on a user-by-user basis, rather than granting permissions to everyone at once. After adding users, check the permissions you want to give each person.

Step

Push "OK" on all three open windows to save the settings and share the folder. To turn off sharing later, reopen the Advanced Sharing window and uncheck "Share This Folder."