Windows 10 Sharing

How to set up network file sharing on Windows 10

Windows 10 lets you can quickly share files with other users over a network — Here are three ways on how to do it.

Windows 10 file sharing

On Windows 10, you can share files on your computer with other users over the network, and despite this might seem complicated, it’s actually a simple task, when using the tools the operating system provides.

Depending on your network environment and what you’re trying to accomplish there are at least four ways to set up file sharing on Windows 10. You can use Public folder, which is a special setup that allows to share files over the local network without configuring permissions.

Or you can share content using the File Sharing feature on Windows 10. Then there is Homegroup, which unlike Public folder, this option automatically shares your Windows 10 libraries folders (Pictures, Videos, Music, Documents), Printers, and other devices connected to your PC.

And if you’re looking to share files with other people across the internet, you can use file sharing on OneDrive.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to share files over the network using File Sharing, Homegroup, and OneDrive on Windows 10.

How to share files using File Explorer

Using the built-in File Sharing feature on Windows 10 is the best method you can use to share files in a local network, as it’s more flexible. You can use more restrictive permissions, and you can share files with virtually any device, including Mac, Android, and Linux computers.

There are two ways to share files using File Explorer: you can use the basic settings, which allows you to quickly share files on the network with minimal configuration, or you can use the advanced settings to set custom permissions and set other advanced options.

Sharing files using basic settings

To share files on your local network using the express settings, do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Navigate to the folder you want to share.

  3. Right-click the item, and select Properties.

    Folder Properties option
    Folder Properties option
  4. On the Properties window, click the Sharing tab.

  5. Click the Share button.

    Folder Sharing tab
    Folder Sharing tab
  6. Use the drop-down menu to select the user or group to share file or folder. For the purpose of this guide, select the Everyone group.

  7. Click the Add button.

    Choose people to share with
    Choose people to share with
  8. Under Permission Level, select the type of sharing permissions you want the folder to have. For example, you can select Read (default) if you only want users to be able to view and open files. If you select Read/Write, users can view, open, modify, and delete the content on the folder you’re sharing.

  9. Click the Share button.

    Share permission level
    Share permission level
  10. Note the network path for the folder that other users will need to access the content over the network and click Done.

  11. Click Close to complete the task.

    Shared folder path
    Shared folder path

Sharing files using advanced settings

To share files on your local network using the advanced sharing settings, do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Navigate to the folder you want to share.

  3. Right-click the item, and select Properties.

    Folder Properties option
    Folder Properties option
  4. On the Properties window, click the Sharing tab.

  5. Click the Advanced Sharing button.

    Folder Sharing tab, Advanced Sharing
    Folder Sharing tab, Advanced Sharing
  6. Check the Share this folder option.

  7. Windows 10 by default allows other users read-only access to the content you’re sharing, which means that they can only view files, but they cannot do anything else. If you want users to be able to edit the files, delete, and create new documents in the location, you’ll need to click the Permissions button.

    Advanced Sharing options
    Advanced Sharing options
  8. On the Permissions window, you’ll notice the Everyone group is the default option highlighted. In the section below, you can customize the permissions for a specific user or group. If you want users to be able to open, edit, delete, and create files, then make sure to check the Read and Change permissions under Allow.

  9. Click Apply.

  10. Click OK.

    Share Permissions options
    Share Permissions options
  11. Click OK again to complete the task.

Sharing files with a specific user

If you only want to share files with only one specific user, you can follow the same steps, but on step 8, do the following:

  1. Select the Everyone group and click the Remove button.

  2. Click the Add button.

    Add or remove users and groups
    Add or remove users and groups
  3. Type the name of the user you want to share the files.

  4. Click the Check Name button.

  5. Click OK.

    Select users and groups to share with
    Select users and groups to share with
  6. Select the user account, and you’ll notice that the Read permission is checked by default. If you want the user to be able to edit, delete, and create new files, make sure to also check the Change permission option.

  7. Click Apply.

  8. Click OK.

    Share permissions for specific user
    Share permissions for specific user

Once you completed the steps, the shared content should be available when browsing the remote computer on File Explorer > Network.

How to share files over the network without needing a password

On Windows 10, any file you share is by default secured with a username and password. This means only people who have an account and password on the computer doing the sharing can access shared files.

If you’re setting up file sharing on a local network for your family members, or people you know, it’s possible to disable the requirement to sign-in with Windows credentials to allow users to access files on the sharing computer without the need of a password.

To disable password protections for file sharing on Windows 10, do the following:

  1. Open Control Panel.

  2. Click on Network and Internet.

  3. Click on Network and Sharing Center.

  4. On the left pane, click the Change advanced sharing settings link.

    Change advanced sharing settings
    Change advanced sharing settings
  5. Expand All Networks.

  6. Under Password protected sharing, select the Turn off password protected sharing option.

  7. Click Save changes to complete the task.

    Password protections sharing
    Password protections sharing

How to share files using Homegroup

Microsoft created Homegroup to be an easy to use method for non-technical users to securely share files between computers running Windows 7 and later versions of the operating system connected to the same local network.

Typically, home users are the ones who will use Homegroup, as it offers a very easy and convenient way to share files, but this method has limited options. For example, you can share your libraries (Pictures, Videos, Music, Documents), folders, Printers and other devices connected to your PC. However, you cannot share files with versions of Windows older than Windows 7, or other devices running a different operating system, such as Android and iOS.

Creating a Home group

To create a Homegroup on your local network, do the following:

  1. Open Control Panel.

  2. Click on Network and Internet.

  3. Click on Homegroup.

  4. Click the Create a homegroup button.

    Create Homegroup on Windows 10
    Create Homegroup on Windows 10
  5. Click Next.

  6. Use the drop-down menu to select which folders and resources (Pictures, Videos, Music, Documents, Printer & Devices) you want to share. If you don’t want to share an item, make sure to select the Not Shared option.

  7. Click Next.

    Share libraries with Homegroup
    Share libraries with Homegroup
  8. Make sure to note the Homegroup password as you’ll need it to join other computers, and click Finish to complete the task.

    Homegroup password
    Homegroup password

Once you completed the task, the Homegroup settings page will be updated displaying the libraries you’re currently sharing and additional options, including the ability to leave the Homegroup and change the resources you’re sharing.

Joining a Homegroup

To join another computer to the Homegroup to access the files you’re sharing on your device, do the following:

  1. Open Control Panel.

  2. Click on Network and Internet.

  3. Click on the Choose homegroup and sharing options link.

    Control Panel Network and Internet
    Control Panel Network and Internet
  4. Click the Join now button.

    Join a PC to a Homegroup
    Join a PC to a Homegroup
  5. Follow the wizard and enter Homegroup password to complete task.

Quick Tip: If you don’t see the Join now button, click the Start the Homegroup troubleshooter, which will force a rescan of the network and make the option available.

Sharing files on a Homegroup

To start sharing files using Homegroup, do the following:

Once you have a Homegroup created your PC is already sharing those files and folders within the libraries you shared during the setup process. However, if you want to share files on a different location with users connected to the Homegroup, then do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Navigate to the content you want to share.

  3. Right-click the folder you want to share and select Share with.

  4. In the submenu, you’ll see a number of sharing options, including Homegroup (view) and Homegroup (view and edit).

    If you only want users to have read permissions to your files, then select Homegroup (view).

    If you want users to have read and write permissions, which also allows them to delete and create files and folder, then select Homegroup (view and edit).

    Share additional folders on a Homegroup
    Share additional folders on a Homegroup

In the case, you want stop sharing a folder you previously shared, right-click the folder, select Share with, and this time click the Stop sharing option.

Once you completed the steps the shared content should be available when browsing the remote computer on File Explorer > Homegroup.

How to share files using OneDrive

You can also share files with other users across your network or around the world using OneDrive.

To share files using OneDrive on Windows 10, do the following:

  1. Open your OneDrive folder on Windows 10.

  2. Navigate to the folder you want to share.

  3. Right-click the folder and select Share a OneDrive link, which will automatically create and copy a short link to the clipboard.

    Share a OneDrive link on Windows 10
    Share a OneDrive link on Windows 10
  4. Right-click and paste the link on an email, Facebook post, Twitter, etc.

Any user who receives your message with the link will be able to view the content of the folder on any web browser.

If you want users to be able to view and edit the content inside of a OneDrive folder, you’ll need to share the folder using OneDrive on the web.

  1. Open OneDrive on your web browser.

  2. Navigate to the file or folder you want to share.

  3. Right-click the item and select Share.

    Share a OneDrive folder
    Share a OneDrive folder
  4. Click the Anyone with this link can edit this item link and make sure Allow editing is checked.

    OneDrive sharing options
    OneDrive sharing options
  5. Select how to share the item, including as a link, via email, or if you click More, you can select to share the item in a number of social networks.

  6. Follow the on-screen directions share the item and to complete the task.

Once you completed the steps, anyone with the link will be able to view and edit the file or the content inside of the folder.

If you only want to share files with specific users privately, you want to select the option to share via email.

Wrapping things up

As you can see, Windows 10 provides a number of methods to securely share files over a network. If you’re not a tech-savvy user, the best way to share files would be using Homegroup, Public folder, or OneDrive. While file sharing using advanced settings is an option suited for more technical users with networking background.

Remember that files you share will only be available to users as long as your computer is turned on, with the exception of the OneDrive sharing method. However, using OneDrive, users must have an internet connection to access the shared content.

What method do you use to share files with other people? Tell us in the comments below.

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