Serving files

How to share files on Windows 11

Windows 11 includes multiple ways to quickly share files with other users over a network — here's how.

Windows 11 file share

On Windows 11, it’s possible to share files with other users in the network quite easily using the default system tools.

If you want to share a folder with documents, pictures, videos, and other types of files, you can complete this task in at least two ways. You can share content using the “File Sharing” feature or you can use OneDrive to share files over the network or internet.

Although you can still share content with other people over the network, if you use Windows 11 with a Microsoft account, and you sign in with a PIN, face recognition, or you use the passwordless authentication option in your Microsoft account, you may run into a lot of issues setting up file sharing. It’s best to create a new local account that you can use to set up the sharing and avoid problems.

This guide will teach you how to share files over the network using File Sharing, Nearby sharing, and OneDrive on Windows 11 using simple steps.

Share files on Windows 11 with File Explorer

The best way to share files with other users in the local network is using the “File Sharing” feature on Windows 11. The reason is that it’s more customizable since it’s possible to use more restrictive permissions and share files with other platforms including Mac, Android, and Linux devices.

On Windows 11, you have two ways to share files using File Explorer. You can use the basic settings to share files with minimal configuration, or you can use the advanced settings to configure custom permissions and advanced options.

Share files with basic settings

To share files on a local network using the express settings on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer on Windows 11.

  2. Open the location with the folder to share.

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

    Open folder properties

  4. Click on the Sharing tab.

  5. Click the Share button.

    Open file share wizard

  6. Select the user or group to share the folder using the drop-down menu – for example, the Everyone group.

  7. Click the Add button.

  8. Under the “Permission Level” section, select the sharing permissions for the folder’s content:

    • Read (default): Users can browse and open files.
    • Read/Write: Users can view, open, modify, and delete the content on the folder you are sharing.

    Windows 11 file share permissions

  9. Click the Share button.

  10. Click the No, make the network that I am connected to a private network option (if applicable).

  11. Confirm the folder’s network path that other users need to access the network’s content.

  12. Click the Done button.

  13. Click the Close button.

After you complete the steps, users in the network should now be able to access the files using a user and password from an account available in the destination or source computer from File Explorer > Network > Computer and opening the shared folder.

Share files with advanced settings

To share files in the 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.

    Open folder properties

  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 11 allows other users read-only access to the content you share by default, meaning they can only view files, but they 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, edit permissions, and it allows them to take ownership of files.
    • Change: User can read, execute, write, delete files and folders in share.
    • 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 on the “Network” page of File Explorer from the remote computer. When you are prompted for the network credentials, confirm the user and password for the account you configured in the shared folder.

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 share, 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.

Share files on Windows 11 without network password

Windows 11 protects shared content with a password, which means that only those who have the account information can access the shared folder.

In the case that you want to set up network file sharing for people you know and trust (for example, family and friends), you can disable the option to require authentication to access the contents without a password.

To disable password protection for file sharing on Windows 11, 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.

    Turn off password protected sharing

  7. Click the Save changes button.

  8. Open File Explorer.

  9. Open the location with the folder to share.

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

    Open folder properties

  11. Click on the Sharing tab.

  12. Click the Share button.

    Open file share wizard

  13. Select the user or group to share the folder using the drop-down menu – for example, the Everyone group.

  14. Click the Add button.

  15. Under the “Permission Level” section, select the sharing permissions for the folder’s content:

    • Read (default): Users can browse and open files.
    • Read/Write: Users can view, open, modify, and delete the content on the folder you are sharing.

    Windows 11 file share permissions

  16. Click the Share button.

  17. Click the No, make the network that I am connected to a private network option (if applicable).

  18. Confirm the folder’s network path that other users need to access the network’s content.

  19. Click the Done button.

  20. Click the Close button.

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

This process will only work for devices using a local account. If you have a device configured with a Microsoft account, you will always need to sign in. Unless you use Credential Manager to store the shared folder credential information on the remote computer (the one accessing the files).

Share files on Windows 11 with Nearby sharing

Nearby sharing is a feature available on Windows 11 to transfer files (documents, videos, pictures, etc.) and links to other computers using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity without having to set up file sharing. This feature requires Bluetooth and the computers to be on the same network.

Enable Nearby sharing

To enable Nearby sharing on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click the Nearby sharing tab.

  4. Select the option to enable Nearby sharing:

    Enable Nearby sharing

    • Off – Disables the features.
    • My devices only – Allows file sharing between computers using the same Microsoft account.
    • Everyone nearby – Allows file sharing with any nearby computer.

Once you complete the steps, you can start sharing files and links over the network with other devices.

Share files with Nearby sharing

To send a file to another computer with Nearby sharing, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Open the folder with the file to share.

  3. Select the file to transfer.

  4. Click the Share button from the command bar.

    File Explorer Nearby sharing

  5. Under the “Nearby sharing” section, select the device to transfer the file.

    Send file to another computer

  6. On the destination device, click the Save & open or Save button on the notification to transmit the file.

After you complete the steps, the file will transfer over the network to the other computer, and it’ll store in the “Downloads” folder. If you want to share a link, you can use the “Share” option from the context menu on Microsoft Edge.

On Windows 11, Nearby sharing doesn’t work with OneDrive files. If you want to share a file from this location, you need to use the OneDrive sharing option.

Share files on Windows 11 with OneDrive

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

To share files using OneDrive on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open OneDrive in File Explorer.

  2. Open the location with the folder to share.

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

    OneDrive share file option on Windows 11

  4. (Optional) Click the Anyone with the link can edit option.

  5. Choose the Specific people option.

    Specific people sharing

  6. Check the Allow editing option.

  7. Click the Apply button.

  8. Confirm the email of the person to share the content.

    OneDrive sharing select user

    Quick tip: You can also use the “Copy Link” option to copy the link and send it to anyone you want to share the content.
  9. Click the Send button.

Users who receive the 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 of a 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. Open the location with the folder to share.

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

    OneDrive web share option

  4. Specify the email for the person to share the files.

    OneDrive share settings

  5. Click the Send button.

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

Files you share will only be available to users as long as 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.