How to Create a Shared Folder

By Aaron Parson

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.

Sharing Locally or With HomeGroup

Step 1

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 2

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 3

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 4

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 5

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 1

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 2

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

Step 3

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 4

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 5

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 6

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."

Tips & Warnings

  • If you haven't already enabled HomeGroup, the Share tab includes a button to "Create or Join a HomeGroup." Choose this option and select your default sharing settings to set up HomeGroup, and then return to the Share tab to share the selected folder.
  • If the user you want to share with doesn't show up on the Share tab, click "Specific People," type the user's name and press "Add." You can also change permission levels through this window, so as to allow or disallow users from editing your shared files.
  • HomeGroup only works with systems dating back to Windows 7. If you have older computers or non-Windows computers on your network, use the advanced sharing method instead.
  • Windows does not permit sharing some folders, such as the Windows system folder, through HomeGroup. To share one of these folders, use the advanced sharing method.
  • To view all shared folders on the network, open any folder and click "HomeGroup" or "Network" on the sidebar, depending on whether you used HomeGroup to share.
  • Information in this article applies to Windows 8 and 8.1. Procedures may vary with other versions or systems.