HomeGroup from start to finish

What's a homegroup?

A homegroup is a group of PCs on a home network that can share files and printers. Using a homegroup makes sharing easier. You can share pictures, music, videos, documents, and printers with other people in your homegroup.

You can help protect your homegroup with a password, which you can change at any time. Other people can't change the files that you share unless you give them permission to do so.

After you create or join a homegroup, you select the libraries (for example, My Pictures or My Documents) that you want to share. You can prevent specific files or folders from being shared, and you can share additional libraries later.

HomeGroup is available in Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, and Windows 7. You can join a homegroup on a PC running Windows RT 8.1, but you can't create a homegroup or share content with the homegroup. In Windows 7 Starter and Windows 7 Home Basic, you can join a homegroup, but you can’t create one.

Note

  • This tutorial is designed to help you create, join, and use a homegroup. Because the instructions can vary for different Windows operating systems, open this tutorial on each PC so that you see the correct instructions for that PC, or use the selector to choose a Windows operating system.

Create a homegroup

When you set up a PC with Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, a homegroup is created automatically. If a homegroup already exists on your home network, you can join it.

  1. Open HomeGroup by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Settings (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the lower-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer up, and then clicking Settings), tapping or clicking Change PC settings, tapping or click Network, and then tapping or clicking HomeGroup.

  2. Tap or click Create.

  3. Select the libraries and devices you want to share with the homegroup.

Notes

  • If a homegroup already exists on your network, you'll be asked to join it instead of creating a new one.

  • If your PC belongs to a domain, you can join a homegroup but you can't create one. You can get to libraries and devices on other homegroup PCs, but you can't share your own libraries and devices with the homegroup.

  • You can join a homegroup on a PC running Windows RT 8.1, but you can't create a homegroup or share content with the homegroup.

  • "Find devices and content" must be turned on for HomeGroup to work. For more info, see Find PCs, devices, and content on your network.

After you create a homegroup, the other PCs running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows RT 8.1 on your network can join it.

Add your other PCs to the homegroup

After someone on your network creates a homegroup, the next step is to join it. You'll need the homegroup password, which you can get from any homegroup member. All user accounts except the Guest account will belong to the homegroup. Each person controls access to his or her own libraries.

To join a homegroup, follow these steps on the PC that you want to add to the homegroup:

  1. Open HomeGroup by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Settings (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the lower-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer up, and then clicking Settings), tapping or clicking Change PC settings, tapping or click Network, and then tapping or clicking HomeGroup.

  2. Enter the homegroup password, and then tap or click Join.

    Note

    • If you don't see a space to enter a password, there might not be a homegroup available. Make sure that someone has created a homegroup, or you can create a homegroup yourself.

  3. Select the libraries and devices you want to share with the homegroup.

  4. Tap or click the control under Media devices if you want to allow devices on the network, such as TVs and game consoles, to play your shared content.

Find homegroup files

PCs that belong to your homegroup will appear in File Explorer.

To get to shared libraries on other homegroup PCs

  1. Open File Explorer 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 File Explorer in the search box, and then tapping or clicking File Explorer.

  2. Under Homegroup, tap or click the user account name of the person whose libraries you want to get to.

  3. In the file list, double-tap or double-click the library you want to get to, and then double-tap or double-click the file or folder you want.

Notes

  • PCs that are turned off, hibernating, or asleep won't appear as part of the homegroup.

  • If you've made homegroup files or folders available offline, and then you disconnect from the network, the files or folders will no longer be visible in the Libraries window. To find them, open the Network folder.

Share libraries and devices, or stop sharing them

When you create or join a homegroup, you select the libraries and devices you want to share with other people in the homegroup. Libraries are initially shared with Read access, which means that other people can look at or listen to what's in the library, but they can't change the files in it. You can adjust the level of access at any time, and you can exclude specific files and folders from sharing.

Only those people who belong to the homegroup can see shared libraries and devices. You can choose to share libraries, devices, or individual files and folders with specific people in your homegroup or with everyone.

Note

  • Keep in mind that children who use homegroup PCs will have access to all shared libraries and devices.

To share devices and entire libraries

  1. Open HomeGroup by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Settings (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the lower-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer up, and then clicking Settings), tapping or clicking Change PC settings, tapping or click Network, and then tapping or clicking HomeGroup.

  2. Select the libraries and devices you want to share with the homegroup.

To share individual files or folders

  1. Open File Explorer 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 File Explorer in the search box, and then tapping or clicking File Explorer.

  2. Select the item, and then tap or click the Share tab.

  3. Choose an option in the Share with group. There are different Share with options depending on whether your PC is connected to a network and what kind of network it is.

    • To share items with a particular person, choose that person's account.

    • To share with all the members of your homegroup, choose one of the Homegroup options. To select libraries to share with all the members of your homegroup, 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 upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.) Then tap or click HomeGroup.

    • To prevent a file or folder from being shared with anyone, tap or click the Share tab, and then tap or click Stop sharing.

    • To change the level of access to a file or folder, tap or click the Share tab, and then select either Homegroup (view) or Homegroup (view and edit).

    • If you need to share a location such as a drive or system folder, use the Advanced sharing option.

Share a printer

Printers that are connected with a USB cable can be shared with a homegroup. After the printer is shared, you can get to it through the Print dialog box in any program, just like a printer that's directly connected to your PC.

To share your printer with the homegroup

  1. Open HomeGroup by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Settings (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the lower-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer up, and then clicking Settings), tapping or clicking Change PC settings, tapping or click Network, and then tapping or clicking HomeGroup.

  2. Tap or click the control to share Printers and devices.

To print to a homegroup printer

  • Open the Print menu of the app you want to print from, select the homegroup printer, and then tap or click Print.

    Note

    • The PC that the printer is connected to must be turned on to use the printer.

Change homegroup settings if needed

At any time after you set up your homegroup, you can change settings by following these steps:

  1. Open HomeGroup by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Settings (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the lower-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer up, and then clicking Settings), tapping or clicking Change PC settings, tapping or click Network, and then tapping or clicking HomeGroup.

  2. Select the settings you want.

These are the settings you can change:

Setting Description
Setting

Share libraries and devices

Description

Select the libraries, printers, and devices you want to share with your homegroup.

Setting

Share media

Description

Use this setting to share media with all devices on your network. For example, you can share pictures with a digital picture frame, or share music with a network media player.

Note  Shared media isn't secure. Anyone connected to your network can receive your shared media.

Setting

View the homegroup password

Description

View the password for your homegroup. If someone else wants to join the homegroup, give them this password.

Setting

Leave the homegroup

Description

Leave your homegroup. You can't delete a homegroup, but if everyone leaves the homegroup it will be gone. You can then set up a new homegroup if you'd like.

To change the homegroup password

To change your homegroup password, follow these steps:

  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. In the search box, enter homegroup, and then click Settings.

  3. In the list of results, tap or click Change homegroup password.

  4. Tap or click Change the password, and then follow the instructions. Administrator permission required You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

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