Get to know home networking in Windows 7

Sharing files and printers at home has never been easier

HomeGroup in Windows 7 makes home networking a breeze—watch this video to see how. (1:34)

You're on the couch with your laptop and run across a webpage you want to print—but the inkjet is upstairs.

Or, let's say you're putting together a family newsletter and need a snapshot— the one on your husband's PC.

No need to trudge upstairs or have your spouse e-mail you the photo. Windows 7 has a better way. It's called HomeGroup, which makes it easy to share pictures, music—even USB printers—on your home network.

What you'll need:

With the push of a button

HomeGroup is just one of the ways Windows 7 takes the headache out of home networking. Windows Connect Now is another. This feature makes it possible to set up your wireless home network with a push of a button—just shop for a Wi‑Fi router that carries a "Compatible with Windows 7" sticker.

Once your network is set up, the View Available Networks menu makes it easy to connect. Located on the taskbar, it displays all your options—Wi‑Fi, mobile broadband, dial-up, or corporate VPN— in a single glance. A couple clicks, and you’re done.

Sharing, the easy way

Of course, sharing is what really makes home networking handy. That's where HomeGroup comes in.

Setup is simple. Checkboxes let you select which libraries you want to share—Pictures, Documents, Music, or Videos. If you have a printer connected to your PC, you can share that, too. The homegroup is then assigned a secret password, so only you or people you trust can access it.

Handy for families

A homegroup is like creating an exclusive little club, making it especially handy for families.

Music, for example, is something everybody in the family might share. For stuff only a parent should see—bank statements or holiday shopping lists, for example—the sharing option is a quick way to make files available only to specific people.