How to set up file sharing in Windows 10

If you want to share files with other devices, here's how it's done using Windows 10

24 Jul 2019

Apps and services like Google Drive and Dropbox are great ways to share stuff between your own devices, but they're not the only way.

You can share files and folders through your home network too. It might sound complicated, but don't worry, we've written this super-helpful guide to help you get it sorted.


File Explorer or HomeGroup?

File Explorer in Windows 10 has everything you need to share your stuff with other kit and people on your home network.

HomeGroup sharing was removed from Windows 10 in the April 2018 update. Don’t worry if you’ve been using it, your stuff’s still being shared, but you’ll have to use File Explorer to change the settings instead.

If your computers run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, then nothing’s changed. Your HomeGroup will work just like it has been. You won’t be able to join it from a Windows 10 machine, but you’ll still be able to see the files.


Sharing through File Explorer in Windows 10

Use File Explorer to share files and folders with specific people, or anyone on the network. You always have control over what you've shared, and whether other users can look at or edit your files.

Share an item on your network

Here's how to share files or folders with other users on your network:

  1. Open File Explorer and find the item you'd like to share.
  2. Right-click on the item, then click Give access to > Choose a name or click Specific people.
  3. Click the drop-down to choose someone to share the item with:
    • Named user: Choose another user account on this computer.
    • Everyone: Share the item with any user on the network
    • Create a new user: Set up a new user account on the computer to share the item with.
  4. When you've chosen the user or group to share with, click Add.
  5. Click Share to make the changes you've selected, then click Done to close.


You might see options to share with a HomeGroup in the right-click menu if there's one on your network. Picking these options won't work, they've been disabled, and they're likely to be removed in a future update.


File permissions

File permissions control what can happen to items you've shared. Usually, they'll be either 'Read' or 'Read/Write'.

By default, Windows 10 shares files and folders in 'Read' mode. Users will be able to open them, but they can't save any changes to the original file.

To let others change a file, or add items to a shared folder, you'll have to give them permission.

To change permissions for an item, follow steps 1-3 above. After you've added the name of the user or group, click the drop-down to change the permission level for that user to Read/Write before clicking Share.


Stop sharing an item

Go to the file or folder, right-click and choose Give access to > Remove access.


Sharing using HomeGroups in Windows 7 & 8.1


Windows 7 introduced HomeGroup to help users share their files. It's been removed from the latest version of Windows 10, but it still works well in older versions of the operating system.

Make a new HomeGroup

  1. Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Status > HomeGroup.
  2. If there's no HomeGroup already set up, click Create a homegroup.
  3. Read the information onscreen, then click Next.
  4. Choose which Libraries you want to share using the drop-down options, then click Next.
  5. Make a note of the password, you'll need to enter this on your other computers to join the group. Click Finish to create the HomeGroup.
  6. When the settings update, you'll see which Libraries and devices you're sharing.


Joining a HomeGroup

It only takes a moment or two (and the right password) to join a HomeGroup. Once you're in, you won't be asked to enter the password again unless you leave the group and re-join.

  1. Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Status > HomeGroup.
  2. If a HomeGroup's available, you'll see information about it in the window. Click Join now.
  3. Click Next on the information window, then use the drop-downs to choose what to share with the group. Click Next
  4. Type the HomeGroup password (anyone who has joined the group has access to it) and click Next to join.
  5. Click Finish to complete the setup.


Now you've created (or joined) a HomeGroup, you can use the Control Panel page to manage it. There are options to manage the password, change what you're sharing, or leave the group.

When you're happy with the settings, close the window by clicking the X at the top-right corner.


Sharing files with a HomeGroup

When you've joined a HomeGroup, it's easy to share files and folders to it:

Open File Explorer (Win+E) and go to the file or folder you'd like to share. Right-click on the item, then move the cursor to Give access to:

You'll see several options including 'view' and 'view and edit'. Click view to let group members see the file, or view and edit to let them change it. You can also 'Remove access' to stop sharing an item.

After you've chosen, anyone in the group will have access to it through the HomeGroup link in File Explorer. If you only want to share the item with one person instead of the whole group, pick their name or click Specific People.


Stop sharing a file

Navigate to the item, right click and choose Give access to > Remove access.


Opening shared files

The left-hand panel of File Explorer has shortcuts to Quick Access folders, as well as This PC so you can get to your stuff. Below these is where you'll find shared content, listed under 'Network' or 'HomeGroup'.

Click Network to see which computers are sharing files and folders. As long as the computer's running, you'll see any network shares, no matter which user is logged in to the computer.

Windows 7 & 8.1 users can click Homegroup to expand the list of members, and see what they're sharing. You'll only see members that are currently logged on to a computer.

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