Windows 10 Sharing

How to set up network file sharing on Windows 10

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

Windows 10 file sharing

On Windows 10, you can share files with other users over the network. While this might seem complicated, it’s technically a simple task using the operating system’s built-in tools.

Depending on your network environment and what you want to accomplish, there are at least four ways to set up file sharing on Windows 10. You can use the Public folder, a specific setup that lets you share files over the local network without configuring permissions. Or you can share content using the File Sharing feature on Windows 10. And if you are looking to share files with other people across the internet, you can use file sharing with OneDrive. 

In previous versions, you could also use Homegroup, which, unlike the Public folder, automatically shared Windows 10 libraries folders (Pictures, Videos, Music, Documents), Printers, and other devices connected to your computer. However, it is no longer a feature on Windows 10. (Since there are still computers with older releases of Windows, the instructions to configure this feature will continue to be available in this guide.)

This guide will teach you how to share files over the network using File Sharing 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 to share files in a local network, as it is more flexible. You can use more restrictive permissions and share files with virtually any device, including Mac, Android, and Linux devices.

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

Sharing files using basic settings

To share files on a local network using the express settings, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer on Windows 10.

  2. Navigate to the folder you want to share.

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

    Folder Properties option

  4. Click on the Sharing tab.

  5. Click the Share button.

    Folder Sharing tab

  6. Use the drop-down menu to select the user or group to share a file or folder. (For this guide, select the Everyone group.)

  7. Click the Add button.

    Choose people to share with

  8. Under the “Permission Level” section, select the sharing permissions you want the folder to have. For instance, you can choose Read (default) if you only want users to view and open files. If you select Read/Write, users can view, open, modify, and delete the content on the shared folder.

  9. Click the Share button.

    Share permission level

  10. Confirm the folder’s network path that other users need to access the network’s content and click the Done button.

  11. Click the Close button.

    Shared folder path

Share files using advanced settings

To share files on a local network using the advanced sharing settings, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Open the location with the folder to share.

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

  4. Click on the Sharing tab.

  5. Click the Advanced Sharing button.

    Open Advanced sharing

  6. Check the Share this folder option.

  7. Click the Permissions button.

    Windows 11 folder sharing settings

    Quick note: Windows 10 allows other users read-only access to the content you share by default, meaning they can only view files but cannot do anything else. If you want users to edit the files, delete, and create new documents in the location, you must manually select the permissions.
  8. Select the Everyone group.

  9. Check the permissions to access the contents of the folder:

    • Full Control: Enables users to read, change, and edit permissions. Also, it allows them to take ownership of files.
    • Change: Users can read, execute, write, and delete files and folders in the shared location.
    • Read: Allows users to access and view the contents of the folder.

    Share file permissions

  10. Click the Apply button.

  11. Click the OK button.

  12. Click the Security tab.

  13. Click the Edit button.

    Open security edit settings

  14. Click the Add button.

    Open add users and groups

  15. Click the Advanced button.

    Open Advanced settings

  16. Click the Find now button.

  17. Select the Everyone group.

    Select share files group

  18. Click the OK button.

  19. Click the OK button again.

  20. Select the Everyone group again.

  21. Check the Full control option.

    Security folder permissions

  22. Click the Apply button.

  23. Click the OK button.

  24. Click the Close button.

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

If you have a device set up with a Microsoft account, you will get a prompt to sign in to access the network contents in the shared location, and using your email and password is likely to fail. You can get around this problem by using a local account if you configure the share with the “Everyone” group or the user and password of an account available on the remote computer.

Alternatively, you could switch your Microsoft account to a local account and then again to a Microsoft account, and then you will be able to use the account to sign in.

How to share files over the network without password

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

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

To disable password protection for file sharing on Windows 10, use these steps:

  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

  5. Expand the All Networks tab.

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

  7. Click the Save changes button.

    Password protections sharing

After you complete the steps, users should be able to access the shared folder without a password.

How to share files using Homegroup (removed)

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

Usually, home users are the ones who will use Homegroup, as it offers a straightforward 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 computer. 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.

Important: Starting with version 1803 and later, Windows 10 no longer includes support for Homegroup, but you can still use the feature in older operating system versions.

Creating a Homegroup

To create a Homegroup on a local network, use these steps:

  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

  5. Click the Next button.

  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, select the Not Shared option.

  7. Click the Next button.

    Share libraries with Homegroup

  8. Note the Homegroup password as you need it to join other computers, and click Finish to complete the task.

    Homegroup password

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

Join a Homegroup

Use these steps to join another computer to the Homegroup to access the files you are sharing on your device:

  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

  4. Click the Join now button.

    Join a PC to a Homegroup

  5. Continue with the on-screen directions to complete the setup.

If you do not see the Join now button, click the Start the Homegroup troubleshooter option, which will force a rescan of the network and make the option available.

Share files on a Homegroup

Once you have a Homegroup created, the computer already shares those files and folders within the libraries you shared during the setup process. However, if you want to share files in a different location with users connected to the Homegroup, do the following.

Use these steps to start sharing files using Homegroup:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Navigate to the content you want to share.

  3. Right-click the folder you want to share and select the “Give access to” option.

  4. You will see several sharing options in the submenu, including Homegroup (view) and Homegroup (view and edit).

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

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

    Share additional folders on a Homegroup

If you want to stop sharing a previously shared folder, right-click the folder, select the Give access to option, and select the Remove access option.

Once you complete the steps, the shared content should be available when browsing the remote computer from File Explorer > Homegroup.

How to share files using OneDrive

You can also share files with others across a network or around the world using OneDrive.

To share files using OneDrive on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open your OneDrive folder on Windows 10.

  2. Navigate to the folder you want to share.

  3. Right-click the folder and select the Share option.

    OneDrive share option in File Explorer

  4. Confirm the email of the person to share the content. (Or the available options to copy the link or share files using other apps.)

    OneDrive share options on Windows 10

  5. Click the Send button.

Any user who receives your message can click the link and view the folder’s content on any web browser.

Share OneDrive files from the web

If you want users to view and edit the content inside the OneDrive folder, you will need to share the folder using OneDrive on the web.

To share OneDrive files from the web, use these steps:

  1. Open OneDrive online.

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

  3. Right-click the item and select the Share option.

    OneDrive online share option

  4. Specify the email for the person to share the files. (Or the available options to copy the link.)

    OneDrive online share settings

  5. Click the Send button.

Once you complete the steps, anyone with the link can edit the files in the folder.

If you only want to share files with specific users privately, you can share the content through email.

Files you share will only be available to users if your computer is turned on, except for the OneDrive sharing method. However, using OneDrive, users must have an internet connection to access the shared content.

Update June 15, 2022: This guide has been revised to ensure the accuracy of the instructions.