Windows provides two methods for sharing files directly from your computer. You can share files from any folder on your computer, or from the Public folder. Either method allows you to share files or folders with someone using your computer or another computer on the same network. Which method you use to share files with someone depends on where you want to store the shared files, who you want to share them with, and how much control you want to have over the files.

For more information about which method you should choose, as well as information on other ways to share files, see File sharing essentials.

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Share files from any folder on your computer

Follow these steps to share files from their current location without copying them to another location. Using this method, you can choose the people with whom you want to share files, regardless of whether they use this computer or another computer on the network.

  1. Locate the folder with the files you want to share.

  2. Click one or more files or folders that you want to share, and then, on the toolbar, click Share.

  3. In the File Sharing dialog box, do one of the following:

    • Type the name of the person you want to share files with, and then click Add.

    • If your computer is on a domain, click the arrow to the right of the text box, and then click Find. Type the name of the person you want to share files with, click Check Names, and then click OK.

    • If your computer is on a domain, click the arrow to the right of the text box, click Everyone to share the files with everyone on your network, and then click Add.

    • If your computer is on a workgroup, click the arrow to the right of the text box, click the person's name in the list, and then click Add.

    • If your computer is on a workgroup and you don't see the name of the person you want to share files with in the list, click the arrow to the right of the text box, and then click Create a new user to create a new user account so that you can share files with the person using this account.

    The name of the person or group that you selected appears in the list of people you want to share files with.

    Note

    • If your computer is on a workgroup, you have the option of turning password protection on or off. If password protection is turned on, the person you are sharing with must have a user account and password on your computer in order to access the files and folders you are sharing. You can turn password protection on or off in the Network and Sharing Center.

  4. Under Permission Level, click the arrow next to each person or group and select sharing permissions:

    • A Reader can view shared files, but not add, alter, or delete them.

    • A Contributor can view or add shared files, but can only alter or delete files he or she has contributed.

    • A Co-owner can view, add, alter or delete any shared file.

    Picture of permission level drop-down menu
    Choose how much access to give people to your files

    Note

    • If you are sharing a file instead of a folder, there is no option to set the permission level to Contributor.

  5. When you are finished choosing the people or groups you want to share files with, click Share. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  6. After you receive confirmation that your folder is shared, you should send a link to your shared files to the people you are sharing them with, so they know the files are shared and how to access them. Do one of the following:

    • Click e‑mail to automatically open a Windows Mail e‑mail message containing the link to your shared files.

    • Click copy to automatically copy the link displayed on this screen to the Windows Clipboard. Then open a new e‑mail message and paste the link into the message.

    • Manually copy and paste the link displayed on this screen into an e‑mail message. Right-click the link and click Copy Link. Then open a new e‑mail message and paste the link into the message. You might want to do this if you don't use Windows Mail as your e‑mail program.

    Note

    • If you change the name of a file or folder after you have shared it with someone, the previous link you sent them will not work. You should send them a link to the new location instead. An easy way to get this link is to share the file or folder by following the preceding steps.

  7. If you don't want to send an e‑mail message to the person you are sharing files with, click Done. They won't be able to find the shared files, however, until you give them the network location of the files.

Share files from the Public folder

When you share files from the Public folder, you don't share them with specific people. Anyone with a user account on this computer can access the Public folder, but you decide whether to allow access to people on your network. You can only grant access to everyone or no one on the network. For more information about controlling access to the Public folder and determining how people can access it, see Sharing files with the Public folder.

If you are not on a domain, you can also turn on password-protected sharing. This limits network access to the Public folder to only those people with a user account and password on your computer. By default, network access to the Public folder is turned off unless you enable it.

To share files from the public folder:

  • Copy or move whichever files you want to share to the Public folder or one of its subfolders, such as Public Documents or Public Music.

    Your files in the Public folder are now shared with anyone who has access to the Public folder.

Notes

  • You can't restrict access to some individual files and folders within the Public Folder but allow access to other files and folders there. If users have access to the Public folder, they will have access to everything in it.

  • When you share files and folders with people using other computers, they can open and view those files and folders just as if they were stored on their own computers. Any changes you allow them to make to a shared file or folder will change the file or folder on your computer. However, you can restrict people to just viewing your shared files, without the ability to change them.