Find PCs, devices, and content on your network

The first time you connect to a network, you might be asked if you want to find PCs, devices, and content on the network, and automatically connect to devices like printers and TVs. Turning on this setting prepares your PC for sharing files and devices on a network. It also automatically sets the appropriate firewall and security settings for the type of network that you connected to. You can turn this off anytime.

To prepare your PC for sharing files and devices on a network

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click Network, tap or click Connections, and then tap or click your network connection.

  3. Turn on Find devices and content.

    Find devices and content
    Find devices and content

Notes

  • Turn this on for home or small office networks, or when you know and trust the people and devices on the network. This setting allows your PC to connect to devices on the network, such as printers. Turn this off for networks in public places (such as coffee shops or airports), or when you don't know or trust the people and devices on the network.

  • This setting isn't available for domain networks (for example, if you bring home a work laptop).

  • Turning this on changes your firewall settings to allow some communication, which can be a security risk. If you know you won’t need to share files or printers, the safest choice is to turn this off.

  • Turning this off blocks the following apps and services from working: PlayTo, file sharing, network discovery, and automatic setup of network printers, TVs, and other devices.

To find shared items on a network

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)

  2. Enter This PC in the search box, and then tap or click This PC.

The location where the shared items appear depends on the type of network you have, and which Windows operating system is running on the PC you're using to find the shared files or folders.

From a PC running
If you have a
Shared items appear under

Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8, Windows RT, or Windows 7

Homegroup

Homegroup

Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 7, or Windows Vista

Workgroup or domain

Network

Windows XP

Workgroup

My Network Places

If you can’t see items on a network that are supposed to be shared with you, ask the person who’s sharing them for the path (it should begin with \\pcname\). Enter this path in the address bar in This PC.

If you don't see the items you've shared under Network, you can customize your view of folders in This PC to see which items have been shared and the people you're sharing them with. Open a folder that contains the items that you think are shared. On the View tab, in the Layout group, tap or click Details. Tap or click Add columns, and then choose Choose columns. Select Shared and Shared with, and then tap or click OK.

Troubleshoot problems sharing items on a network

  • Make sure the PCs are in the same homegroup or workgroup and that each PC has a unique name.

    1. Open System by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering System in the search box, and tapping or clicking System.

    2. Tap or click Properties.

    3. To change the PC or network name, tap or click Change settings. Administrator permission required You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

  • If your PC is in a workgroup, use the same user name and password combination on each PC. For example, if your account on one PC is "Lisa" and your password is "Ch0col@te," use that same name and password on all your PCs in the workgroup.

  • On PCs running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows RT, make sure you’ve turned on sharing for the network you’re connected to. You’ll need to do this on each PC that you want to use for sharing items. On PCs running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, make sure you've turned on the Find devices and content slider.

  • If you’re still having problems, make sure network discovery, file and printer sharing, and Public folder sharing are turned on for all PCs in your homegroup or workgroup.

    1. Open Advanced sharing settings by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering advanced sharing in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Manage advanced sharing settings.

    2. Expand the current profile.

  • Make sure the PC with the shared files and folders is turned on and isn't sleeping or hibernating. In This PC, tap or click the address bar, and then enter \\computername to make sure there are no problems with the network connection.

  • Make sure you're using only one firewall, and that it's set up to allow homegroups or workgroups.

  • If you want to open shared files and folders that are on a PC running Windows XP from a PC running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, it's best to put the items in the Shared Documents folder. Then, right-click the item you want to share, click Sharing and Security, and select the Share this folder on the network check box. If you want to edit the shared items from other PCs on your network, select the Allow network users to change my files check box.