Public folder on Windows 10
Easy Sharing

How to use Public folder to share files with other people on Windows 10

You can use Public folder to quick share files with other people on the same PC or over the network. Here's how everything works.

Public folder has been around longer than Windows 10, and it’s a special setup more than a feature. The operating system includes the idea of a Public folder to make it easier to share files with other people who use the same PC and with users over a small network.

What’s Public folder on Windows

While you can always share a folder manually on your account, the Public folder is a special setup very easy to configure and allows anyone to share files without having to go through the hassle of setting up share and security permissions, and you can even let other users access the folder without requiring a password.

On Windows 10, similar to previous versions, the folder is located in C:\Users\Public, and by default all user accounts on a computer have access to it. However, depending on your network configuration, you’ll be limiting access to only network users who have a password protected account on your computer.

Also, inside the folder, you’ll find a number of subfolders, including “Public Documents”, “Public Downloads”, “Public Music”, “Public Pictures”, and “Public Videos”, which are meant to help keep the files you share organized.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to share files with other users and disable Public folder as necessary on Windows 10.

How to share files using Public folder

Public folder is one of those hidden gems in the operating system that it’s available for anyone who knows that it exists. This option doesn’t have a settings page, which means that the best way to use it to share files is manually accessing the folder at its location.

However, you can make things a bit easier by pinning the folder to Quick access, Taskbar, or creating a simply shortcut on the desktop for you and for those users who will be accessing the files.

To pin Public folder to the Quick access, do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Browse the following path:

    C:\Users\Public
  3. Right-click Quick access and select Pin current folder to Quick access.

    Pin Public folder to Quick access
    Pinning folder to Quick access

To pin Public folder to the Taskbar, do the following.

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Browse the following path:

    C:\Users
  3. Drag and drop the folder to the Taskbar.

    Pin Public folder to Taskbar
    Pinning a folder to Taskbar

To create a shortcut to the desktop, do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Browse the following path:

    C:\Users
  3. Right-click and drag and drop the Public folder to the desktop, and from the context menu select Create shortcut here.

    Create shortcut of Public folder to the desktop
    Creating a folder shortcut on the desktop

If you’re trying to access a folder that someone shared on the network, do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. On the left pane, click on Network.

  3. Double-click the computer name with the content.

  4. Double-click Users and then access Public folder.

    Network Public folder
    Browsing folder on the network
  5. Browse the folder and either add the location to Quick access, or add a shortcut to the Taskbar or desktop.

Remember that anyone with access to the folder can read, modify, and delete files, as such make sure to know exactly the content you’re sharing.

How to enable Public folder

Public folder is enabled by default for local users, and you can’t turn it off, as it’s just a folder Windows creates with special settings on every installation. However, you have to manually enable Public folder, if you want network users to access your shared files.

  1. Open Control Panel.

  2. Click on Network and Internet.

  3. Click on Network and Share Center.

  4. On the left pane, click on Change advanced share settings.

  5. Expand All Networks.

  6. Make sure to select the Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in the Public folders option.

    Advanced Sharing Settings for Public folder
    Advanced Sharing Settings
  7. If you want to share files without network users needing a password, under Password protected sharing, select Turn off password protected sharing.

  8. Click Save changes to complete the task.

How to disable Public folder

You can only disable Public folder to stop sharing files with users on the network. The only way to stop sharing files with other users in the same computer is by simply removing from the folders.

If you’re looking to stop sharing files for network users, do the following:

  1. Open Control Panel.

  2. Click on Network and Internet.

  3. Click on Network and Share Center.

  4. On the left pane, click on Change advanced share settings.

  5. Expand All Networks.

  6. Make sure to select the Turn off Public folder sharing option.

    Advanced Sharing Settings for Public folder
    Advanced Sharing Settings
  7. Click Save changes to complete the task.

Wrapping things up

Public folder is a great way for home users to share files with other users in the same computer and over the network, but it’s an option that most of the time is overlooked.

Using this method to share files, you can quickly make available music, documents, pictures, and videos with other users without having to go through complicated setups. However, it’s worth noting that this is meant for home or really small networks, if you’re trying to share content on your organization this is not the correct route to do things.

While this guide is focusing on sharing content using Windows 10, Public folder has been around for years, as such you can also use this on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.

What do you think about Public folders on Windows 10? Tell us in the comments below.

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