Why can't I see other computers on my network?

The most common reasons why you can't see other computers on your network are that your computer is not connected to the network or that network discovery is disabled. The sections below will help you try to fix these and other, less common problems.

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I don't see any computers or devices in the Network folder

This can occur for two reasons:

  • Your computer is not connected to the network. If your computer is not connected to the network, the Network folder appears empty, even if there are other computers and devices on the network. To solve the problem, connect to that network or set up a new network. If you're having problems connecting to a network, go to Network connection problems in Windows on the Windows website.

    Open Connect to a Network by clicking the network icon (Picture of the wireless network icon or Picture of the wired network icon) in the notification area.

  • Network discovery is blocking you from seeing other computers and devices. If the network discovery setting on your computer is set to Off, you won't see other computers and devices on the network. To change your network discovery setting, follow these steps:

    1. Open Advanced sharing settings by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type network, click Network and Sharing Center, and then, in the left pane, click Change advanced sharing settings.

    2. Click the chevron Picture of the chevron icon to expand the current network profile.
    3. Click Turn on network discovery, and then click Save changes. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

I don't see a computer or device that I expect to see in the Network folder

This can occur for two reasons:

  • The computer or device isn't on the network. To solve this problem, add the computer to the network by plugging it into the hub, switch, or router (if the network is Ethernet), or by connecting to the network using the Connect to a Network wizard (if the network is wireless). For more information, see Add a device or computer to a network. If you think the computer or device has been added to the network but there's a problem, you can run the Network troubleshooter on the computer to try to find the problem. To run the Network troubleshooter, in the notification area, right-click the network icon (Picture of the wireless network icon or Picture of the wired network icon), and then click Troubleshoot problems. For more information about solving network problems, see Why can’t I connect to a network?
  • The computer's network discovery setting is set to Off, which prevents you from seeing it. To change the network discovery setting on another computer running Windows 7, follow the procedure earlier in this topic. To change the network discovery setting on a computer running Windows Vista, log on to the computer, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click Control Panel, click Network and Internet, and then click Network and Sharing Center. Click the chevron Picture of the chevron to expand the Network Discovery section, click Turn on network discovery, and then click Apply. If you don't have access to the computer, ask a person who does to change the network discovery setting to On so you can see the computer in the Network folder.

    Notes

    • It might take several minutes for computers running previous versions of Windows to be discovered and become visible in the Network folder, especially if your network contains more than one workgroup.

    • We recommend that all computers be in the same workgroup. If you must use multiple workgroups, make sure that each workgroup contains a computer that has file sharing enabled and network discovery turned on.

From a computer running Windows XP, I can't see any network computers running Windows Vista or Windows 7

Here are some things to try:

On the computer running Windows XP, check the workgroup name and then compare it to the workgroup name on the computers running Windows 7. If the workgroup names don't match, change the names so that all of the computers on the network have the same workgroup name.

To check or change the workgroup name on a computer running Windows XP

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, click Performance and Maintenance, and then click System.

  2. Click the Computer Name tab.

    The workgroup name is displayed. To change the workgroup name, click Change.

To check or change the workgroup name on a computer running Windows Vista or Windows 7

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click Control Panel, type system in the search box, and then click System.

    The workgroup name is displayed under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings. To change the workgroup name, click Change settings. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  2. In the System Properties dialog box, click the Computer Name tab, and then click Change.

  3. In the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box, type the new workgroup name in the Workgroup box, and then click OK.

    Picture of the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box
    The Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box

For more information about networking computers running Windows XP or other versions of Windows, see Networking home computers running different versions of Windows.