You want to share your Windows documents, photos, videos, and printers with other people or with other computers. In Windows 7 and 8.1, you could create and manage a homegroup to share these items with other computers on your home network. Unfortunately, Microsoft retired the homegroup feature in Windows 10, so it is no longer an option.
Fear not, though, because there are other ways you can share files and printers in Windows 10. Read on for that, and scroll down for homegroup directions if you’re still using a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC.
How to Share Files in Windows 10
How can you share files and printers in Windows 10 without homegroup? Open File Explorer and right-click on the file or files you wish to share. From the pop-up menu, select Share.
Share Through Email
The Share window offers a few options. To share your files by email, select an existing contact or click the link to Find more people and choose the contact with whom you want to share the file.
You can send the files directly from File Explorer, without having to use any other app. Confirm the email with the attached files you wish to share and then send it.
Share With Nearby Computer
To instead share your file with a nearby computer, make sure the feature is turned on, and then select the name of the computer at the Share window. A notification appears on that computer. The user of that computer then clicks the Save button to automatically save the files to the local Documents folder by default.
Share With a Service
Another option is to send the file to an app or online storage service. From the Share window, select the service you want to use for sharing the file, such as Box, Dropbox, or OneDrive, then save the file. You will then need to open that service in your browser to share the file with other people.
How to Share Printers in Windows 10
To share a printer on your network, go to Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners. Select the printer you want to share and click the Manage button. At the Manage window, click the link for Printer Properties.
When the Printer Properties window opens, click the Sharing tab. Check the box to Share this printer. Change the default share name if you wish, then click OK.
To access and use the shared printer on another computer, go to Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners on that computer. Click the button to Add a printer or scanner.
Your shared printer should appear. Select it and click the button to Add device. The printer then appears as Ready on the Bluetooth & other devices menu.
You can now set it as the default if you wish or just select it any time you want to print to it.
How to Share Files and Printers in Windows 7, 8.1
Now let’s say you’re still using Windows 7—which will soon no longer be supported—or Windows 8.1. The good news is that homegroup still runs for these operating systems, so you can share files and printers through this built-in feature.
Create a Homegroup in Windows 7
In Windows 7 or 8.1, open Control Panel in icon view and click the icon for homegroup. At the homegroup window, click the button to Create a homegroup.
In Windows 7, select the items you want to share via your homegroup: Pictures, Music, Videos, Documents, Printers. Click Next.
At the next screen in Windows 7, write down, copy, or print the password for your homegroup. Click Finish.
Create a Homegroup in Windows 8.1
In Windows 8.1 after you click the button to Create a homegroup, click Next at the initial Create a homegroup window. Select the items you want to share in Windows 8.1 by clicking the drop-down box next to each one and changing the status to Shared. Click Next.
At the next screen in Windows 8.1, write down, copy, or print the password for your homegroup. Click Finish.
Change Homegroup Share Settings
At the next screen, you can opt to share your content with media devices on your network. To do this in Windows 7, check the box to Stream my pictures, music, and videos to all devices on my network.
Then click the link to Choose media streaming options. At the next screen, name your media library, click the Allow all button. Then click OK.
In Windows 8.1, click the link to Allow all devices on this network such as TVs and game consoles to play my shared content. At the next screen, name your media library, click the Allow all button. Then click Next.
How to Join a Homegroup
Now let’s say you want to join a previously existing homegroup, or maybe you want someone else to join the one you just created. In order to participate in file and printer sharing, the other Windows computer must be on the same network and be a member of the same workgroup as the computer on which you created the homegroup.
Change Homegroup Name
You can check and change the name of the homegroup on a Windows 7 or 8.1 computer the same way. Open Control Panel in icon view and select System. In the section for Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, make sure the workgroup name for your two computers is the same.
If not, click the link to Change settings. At the System Properties window, click the Change button, change the workgroup name to match that of your other computer. Click OK. You’ll be prompted to reboot your computer.
Go to Control Panel on the connecting computer and click the icon for Homegroup. Windows should be aware that there is already a homegroup on your network. Click the Join now button.
Choose the items you want to share from your current computer. At the next screen, type the password for your homegroup. Click Next.
Click Finish to exit the homegroup setup. You can now start sharing your files and printers among the two Windows computers. You can repeat the same steps for any other computers that needs to be added to the homegroup.
How to Access Shared Files
To access a shared file, open File Explorer (or Windows Explorer), scroll down to the bottom of the left pane, and you should see a new section called Homegroup. Click to see the other computers in your homegroup.
Select one of the computers, and the right pane displays the various folders for documents, music, photos, and other items you chose to share. Double-click a shared folder to access its contents. You can then copy shared files between the two computers.
You can tweak the settings and perform other tasks for your homegroup. On any device in the homegroup, go to Control Panel and double-click the icon for homegroup. From this window, you can change what you’re sharing, view or print the password, change the password, leave the homegroup, change advanced sharing settings, and start troubleshooting if you bump into any problems.