How to Share Files and Printers in Windows

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You want to share your Windows documents, photos, videos, and printers with other people or with other computers. Windows 7 and 8.1 can create and manage a homegroup to share these items with other computers on your home network. Unfortunately, Microsoft dropped the homegroup feature in Windows 10, so it’s no longer an option.

Don’t worry, though, as there are other ways you can share files and printers in Windows 10. Read on and scroll down to find homegroup instructions if you’re still using a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC.

How to share files in Windows 10

How can you share files and printers in Windows 10 without a homegroup? Open File Explorer and right-click the file or files you want to share. From the pop-up menu, choose Share.

The sharing window offers a few options. To share your file via email, select an existing contact or click the link to find more people and select the contact with whom you want to share the file.

You can send files directly from File Explorer without having to use any other applications. Confirm the email with the attachments you want to share and then send it.

Instead, to share your files with a nearby computer, ensure the feature is turned on and select the computer’s name in the Share window. A message appears on that computer. The computer user then clicks the Save button to save the file to the local Documents folder automatically.

Another option is to send the file to an application or online storage service. Select the service you want to share the file from the Share window, such as Box, Dropbox, or OneDrive, then save the file. You’ll then need to open that service in your browser to share files with others.

How to share a printer in Windows 10

To share a printer on your network:

  1. Go to Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners.
  2. Select the printer you want to share and click the Manage button.
  3. In the Manage window, click the link for Printer Properties.

When the Printer Properties window opens, click the Sharing tab. Check the box to Share this printer. Change the default share name if you want, and then click OK.

To access and use a shared printer on another computer, go to Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners on that computer. Click the button to add a printer or scanner.

Your shared printer will appear. Please select it and click the button to Add a device. The printer then appears as Ready on the Bluetooth menu and other devices.

Now you can set it as default or choose it anytime you want to print to it.

How to share files and printers in Windows 7, 8.1

Assuming you are still using Windows 7, this will no longer be supported soon, or Windows 8.1. The good news is that Homegroup still runs for these operating systems so that you can share files and printers through this built-in feature.

In Windows 7 or 8.1, open Control Panel in icon view and click the icon for the Homegroup. In the homegroup window, click the button to create a homegroup.

In Windows 7, select the items you want to share across your Homegroup: Pictures, Music, Videos, Documents, Printers. Press next.

On the next screen in Windows 7, write down, copy, or print the password for your home group. Click Finish.

In Windows 8.1, after you click the Create homegroup button, click Next at the Create initial homegroup window. Select the items you want to share in Windows 8.1 by clicking the drop-down box next to each item and changing the status to Shared. Press next.

On the next screen in Windows 8.1, write down, copy, or print the password for your Homegroup. Click Finish.

On the next screen, you can choose to share your content with media devices on the network. To do this in Windows 7, check the box Stream my photos, music, and videos to all devices on my network.

Then click the link to select the media streaming option. On the next screen, give your media library a name, click the Allow All button. Then click OK.

In Windows 8.1, click the link to Allow all devices on this network, such as TVs and game consoles, to play my shared content. On the next screen, give your media library a name, click the Allow All button. Then click Next.

Now let’s say you want to join a previously existing homegroup, or maybe you want others to join the group you just created. To join file and printer sharing, the other Windows computer must be on the same network and be a member of the same workgroup as the computer for which you created the Homegroup.

You can check and change the name of your Homegroup on your Windows 7 or 8.1 computer the same way. Open Control Panel in icon view and select System. In the computer name, domain, and workgroup settings section, make sure the workgroup names for your two computers are the same.

If not, click the link to Change settings. In the System Properties window, click the Change button, change the workgroup name to match the name of your other computer. Click OK. You will be prompted to restart your computer.

Go to Control Panel on the connected computer and click the icon for Homegroup. Windows should know that there is already a homegroup on your network. Click the Join Now button.

Select the items you want to share from your current computer. On the next screen, enter the password for your Homegroup. Press next.

Click Finish to exit the homegroup setup. You can now start sharing your files and printers between two Windows computers. You can repeat the same steps for any other computers that need to be added to the Homegroup.

To access shared files, open File Explorer (or Windows Explorer), scroll to the bottom of the left pane, and you’ll see a new section called Homegroup. Click here to see other computers in your home group.

Select one of the computers, and the right pane shows different folders for the documents, music, photos, and other items you’ve chosen to share. Double-click a shared folder to access its contents. You can then copy the shared files between the two computers.

You can adjust settings and perform other tasks for your home group. On any device in the Homegroup, go to the Control Panel and double-click the icon for the Homegroup. From this window, you can change what you’re sharing, view or print passwords, change your password, leave your Homegroup, change advanced sharing settings, and start troubleshooting if you encounter any problems.


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