In Windows 7, you can share individual files and folders—and even entire libraries—with other people. (For an overview, see File sharing essentials.)

The "Share with" menu

The quickest way to share something is using the new Share with menu. The options you'll see depend on the file you're sharing and the type of network your computer is connected to—homegroup , workgroup, or domain. (For more information about types of networks, see What is the difference between a domain, a workgroup, and a homegroup?)

Watch this video to learn how to use the Share with menu (1:17)
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To share files and folders on a homegroup

  1. Right-click the item you want to share, and then click Share with.

    Picture of the Share with menu
    Share something quickly using Share with.
  2. Choose one of the following options:

    • Homegroup (Read). This options shares the item with your entire homegroup—but people in your homegroup can only open the item. Homegroup members can't modify or delete it.

    • Homegroup (Read/Write). This option shares the item with your entire homegroup and lets them open, modify, or delete it.

    • Specific people. This option opens the File Sharing wizard, which allows you to select individual people to share items with.

      Picture of permission level menu
      In the File Sharing wizard, you can choose specific people to share files and folders with.

Notes

  • If you don't see the Share with menu, you might be trying to share an item on a network or other unsupported location. The Share with menu also won't appear when you select files outside your personal folder.

  • If you're trying to share with specific people in your homegroup but don't see their names in the File Sharing wizard, it's possible that they haven't linked their Windows user account to an online ID. You might also need to install an online ID provider on your computer. For more information, see What's the benefit of linking my online accounts with my Windows user account?

  • If you try to share something in one of the Windows 7 Public folders, the Share with menu will display an option called Advanced sharing settings. This option takes you to Control Panel, where you can turn Public folder sharing on or off.

  • Homegroups aren't available on Windows Server 2008 R2.

To share files and folders on a workgroup or a domain

  1. Right-click the item you want to share, click Share with, and then click Specific people.

  2. In the File Sharing wizard, do one of the following:

    • If your computer is on a domain, click the arrow next to the text box, and then click Find people. In the Select Users or Groups dialog box, type a name in the box, click Check Names, and then click OK.

    • If your computer is part of a workgroup, click the arrow next to the text box, click a name from the list, and then click Add.

    Tip

    • If you already know the name of the person you want to share with, just type it in the File Sharing wizard, and click Add.

    • Under the Permission Level column, select one of the following options:

      • Read. Recipients can open—but not modify or delete—the file.

      • Read/Write. Recipients can open, modify, or delete the file.

      Picture of permission level menu
      Choose how much access to give people to your files.
  3. When you're finished adding people, click Share. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  4. After you receive confirmation that your item is shared, you can let people you've shared with know how to access it. Do one of the following:

    • If you have an e‑mail program installed, click e‑mail to send someone a link to your shared files.

    • Click copy to automatically copy the displayed link to the WindowsClipboard. Then you can paste it into an e‑mail, instant message, or other program.

  5. When you're finished, click Done.

Notes

  • If you don't see the Share with menu, you might be trying to share an item on a network or other unsupported location. It also won't appear when you select files outside your personal folder.

  • If you try to share something in one of the Windows 7 Public folders, the Share with menu will display an option called Advanced sharing settings. This option takes you to Control Panel, where you can turn Public folder sharing on or off.

  • If password-protected sharing is turned on, the person you want to share with must have a user account and password on your computer for full access to shared items. Password-protected sharing is located in Control Panel under Advanced sharing settings. It's turned on by default.

To stop sharing a file or folder

  • Right-click the item you want to stop sharing, click Share with, and then click Nobody.

To access shared files, folders, or libraries on other homegroup computers

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then click your user name.
  2. In the navigation pane (the left pane), under Homegroup, click the user account of the person whose files you want to access.

  3. In the file list, double-click the library you want to access, and then double-click the item you want.

    Picture of the Libraries window
    Homegroup

Note

  • Computers that are turned off, hibernating, or asleep won't appear in the navigation pane.

The Public folders

You can also share files and folders by copying or moving them into one of the Windows 7 Public folders, such as Public Music or Public Pictures. You can find them by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking your user account name, and then clicking the arrow beside Libraries to expand the folders.

Public folder sharing is turned off by default (except on a homegroup).

Watch this video to learn how to turn Public folder sharing on or off (1:13)

To turn Public folder sharing on or off

When Public folder sharing is turned on, anyone on your computer or network can access these folders. When it's off, only people with a user account and password on your computer have access.

  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 your current network profile.
  3. Under Public folder sharing, select one of the following options:

    • Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in the Public folders

    • Turn off Public folder sharing (people logged on to this computer can still access these folders)

  4. Click Save changes. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Notes

  • When you share the Public folder on your computer with other people, they can open and view the files stored there just as if they were stored on their own computers. If you give them permission to change files, any changes they make will change the files on your computer.

  • If you click a Public folder or its contents, you'll see Advanced sharing settings in the Share with menu. This option takes you to Control Panel, where you can turn Public folder sharing on or off.

By turning on password-protect sharing in Control Panel, you can limit Public folder access to people with a user account and password on your computer. This option isn't available on a domain.

To turn password-protected sharing on or off

  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 your current network profile.
  3. Under Password protected sharing, select one of the following options:

    • Turn on password protected sharing

    • Turn off password protected sharing

  4. Click Save changes. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Picture of Public folders
Public folders are included in Windows libraries.

Advanced sharing

There are some locations in Windows that, for security reasons, can't be shared directly using the Share with menu. One example is if you attempt to share an entire drive such as drive C on your computer (sometimes referred to as the root of a drive), or system folders (including the Users and Windows folders).

To share these locations, you must use Advanced sharing instead. In general, however, we don't recommend sharing your entire drive or Windows system folders.

To share using Advanced sharing

  1. Right-click a drive or folder, click Share with, and then click Advanced sharing.

  2. In the dialog box that appears, click Advanced Sharing. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  3. In the Advanced Sharing dialog box, select the Share this folder check box.

  4. To specify users or change permissions, click Permissions.

  5. Click Add or Remove to add or remove users or groups.

  6. Select each user or group, select the check boxes for the permissions you want to assign for that user or group, and then click OK.

  7. When you've finished, click OK.

Note

  • You can't share the root of a drive with a dollar sign following the drive letter as in versions of Windows earlier than Windows Vista. For example, you can't share the root of your C drive as "C$," but you can share it as "C" or any other name.

Shared Folders troubleshooter

If you’re still having trouble with sharing, you can try using the Shared Folders troubleshooter to automatically find and fix some common problems.

Open the Shared Folders troubleshooter by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type troubleshooter, and then click Troubleshooting. Under Network and Internet, click Access shared files and folders on other computers.



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