Demo: Sharing files and folders in Windows Vista

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Watch this demo to learn how to share files and folders with other people so that they can view or edit them.

Read the transcript

When you share files or folders, you make them available to other people, so that they can view or edit them. For example, other people can read and edit a document stored in your Documents folder or see pictures you took on a recent vacation.

Let's look at how you can use Windows Vista to share files and folders with people who use your computer or your network.

Suppose you have just returned home from a vacation. You took lots of pictures while you were there, and now that you've copied them to your computer, you want to share them with your family and friends. First, turn on file sharing and Public folder sharing in Network and Sharing Center in Control Panel.

The easiest way to share files—like these pictures—is to use the Public folder. The Public folder is automatically provided by Windows, complete with ready-to-use folders for documents, pictures, and other types of files. Anything you put into the Public folder is available for other people to see. To share the pictures from your vacation, drag them from a folder on your computer into the Public Pictures folder. Now anyone else with an account on your computer can view the pictures.

But what if you want to share a picture or some other file with only one or two people? In that case, it's best to share it by setting options for just that one file. To do this, find the file you want to share. Right-click the file, and then click Share. You'll see a list of people who have accounts on your computer. Click the names of the people you want to share with, click Add, and then click Share. If you're sharing the file with other people who also use your computer, you're done!

If you want to share it with people using other computers on your home network, though, you have a little more to do. First, all of the computers in your network should belong to the same workgroup. A workgroup is a group of computers that are connected on a network and share resources, such as printers and files. When you set up a network, Windows automatically creates a workgroup and gives it a name. To learn more about workgroups or how to change your workgroup name, search for "workgroup" in Help and Support.

Second, in the Network and Sharing Center, make sure the network location type is set to Private, which means that your computer can see and access other computers on the network. If you need to change this, click Customize.

Now, anyone on your network who you've chosen to share with can find the files you've shared. That's it! Now you know how to share files or folders.