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home network 31 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

Now you’ve set up your home network, you can start to share files between your computers. In this guide, I’ll show you how to get your Windows XP/Vista/Machine connected to your workgroup, how to share files, and how to view shared files.

This guide is part of the Home Network Setup, Sharing, Streaming, and Backup Series. Learn more about setting up a home network, configuring file sharing and streaming, and performing network backups on the series homepage.

To get your computers seeing each other, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Put your computers in the same workgroup.
  2. Set account passwords to enable protected sharing.
  3. Share your files.
  4. Access your shared files.

Put Your Computers in the Same Workgroup

Whether you have computers on XP or computers on Vista/7, or both, this guide section details how to get all your machines on the same workgroup, which is essential for file sharing.

Get Your Windows XP Machine(s) on the Same Workgroup

To get your XP machine on a workgroup:

1. Click Start, right click My Computer, and click Properties.

home network Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]
2. Under the Computer Name tab, click Change…

home network 1 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]
3. Ensure Workgroup is selected and type a name for your workgroup. i.e MSHOME (make sure you use the same name for all computers on your home network.)

home network 2 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

4. Click OK and reboot your computer.

5. Repeat the process for all Windows XP PCs in your home.

Get Your Windows Vista/7 Machine(s) on the Same Workgroup

To get your Windows Vista or 7 machine on a workgroup:

1. Click Start, right click Computer, and click Properties.

home network 19 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

2. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, click Change settings.

home network 20 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

3. Under the Computer Name tab, click Change…

home network 21 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

4. Ensure Workgroup is selected and type a name for your workgroup. i.e MSHOME (make sure you use the same name for all computers on your home network.)

home network 22 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

5. Click OK and reboot your computer.

6. Repeat the process for all Windows Vista/7 PCs in your home.

Set Account Passwords to Enable Protected Sharing

If you want to share files across your network, you’ll need an account password set up. If you already have an account password (i.e. you use a password to log in to Windows when it first starts up), you can skip this step.

Set Account Password in Windows XP

To set an account password in Windows XP:

1. Click the Start button and click your account picture.

home network 3 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

2. Click the Cancel button.

home network 4 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

3. Click Create a password.

home network 5 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

4. Type a password, confirm the password, type a hint, and click Create Password.

home network 6 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

5. Click Yes, Make Private.

home network 7 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

Set Account Password in Windows Vista/7

To set an account password in Windows Vista/7:

1. Click the Start button and click your account picture.

home network 23 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

2. Click Create a password for your account.
home network 24 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

3. Type a password, confirm the password, type a hint, and click Create Password.

home network 25 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

Share Your Files

The next step in the process is to decide which files and folders you would like to share. Personally, I don’t like to use the default Public or Shared folders because I don’t like to move files around just to have them shared. I’d rather share my files from their original location. This section will show you how to share individual folders (the same method can be applied for sharing individual files (although I don’t recommend sharing on a file by file basis.)

Share Your Files in XP

To share your files in XP:

1. Right click and folder and click Sharing and Security…

home network 13 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

2. Under the Sharing tab, click Share this folder on the network, give the share a name, and click OK. If you would like to allow file changes (i.e. updates, deletes) from other computers, check Allow network users to change my files.

home network 14 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

3. Your folder should now have a special overlay icon (a hand under the file.)

home network 15 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

Share Your Files in Vista/7

To share your files in Vista/7:

1. Right click and folder and click Share with > Specific people…

home network 32 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

2. In the sharing box, type Everyone and click Add.

home network 33 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

3. A confirmation dialogue will show you sharing information on the file or folder you set to share.home network 34 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

Access Your Shared Files

Now you’ve shared your files, you’ll want to access them from different machines. In this final step, I’ll show you two methods for accessing your shared files:

  1. Through My Network Places (XP) or Network (Vista/7.)
  2. Through Computer via a Mapped Network Drive (XP/Vista/7.)

My network places is a good place to view all shared items, by computer; a mapped network drive is a good way to add a permanent link to a specific shared folder or drive, which can be accessed via a drive letter (good for networked backups, streaming media shares etc.)

Access Your Shared Files in XP (Method 1: My Network Places)

To access shared files through My Network Places:

1. Click Start and click My Network Places. If you do not have My Network Places on your Start menu, follow steps 2-5. If you see My Network Places, skip to step 6.

home network 11 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

2. To add My Network Places to your Start menu, right click the Start button and click Properties.
home network 8 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

3. Under the Start Menu tab, click Customize…

home network 9 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

4. Under the Advanced tab, scroll down (under Start menu items) and check My Network Places. Click OK.

home network 10 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]
5. Click Start and click My Network Places.

home network 12 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

6. Browse shared files and folders, by computer, from this interface.

Access Your Shared Files in XP (Method 2: Mapped Network Drives)

If you would like a more permanent access point to a shared directory or drive, you should use a mapped network drive. To set up a mapped network drive in XP:

1. Open My Computer, click Tools, and click Map Network Drive…

home network 16 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

2. Select a drive letter (i.e. Z.) For the folder, add the computer name you are trying to connect to (follow the section titled Put Your Computers in the Same Workgroup to find your computer name) and then the share as \\COMPUTERNAME\Share

i.e.

\\mintylaptop\mintyfolder

Check Reconnect at logon if you would like the mapped network drive to be accessible next time you restart your machine.

Click Finish.

home network 17 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

3. Now, from My Computer, you will see your mapped network drive. Double click on it to view the files.

home network 18 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

Access Your Shared Files in Vista/7 (Method 1: Network)

To access shared files through Network:

1. Click Start and click Network. If you do not have Network on your Start menu, follow steps 2-5. If you see Network, skip to step 6.

home network 26 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

2. Right click the Start button, and click Properties.

home network 27 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

3. Under the Start Menu tab, click Customize…
home network 28 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

4. Scroll down and check Network.

home network 29 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

5. Click Start and click Network.

6. Double click a computer name on your network.

home network 30 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

7. Browse all the shared files on the computer.
home network 31 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

Access Your Shared Files in Vista/7 (Method 2: Mapped Network Drives)

If you would like a more permanent access point to a shared directory or drive, you should use a mapped network drive. To set up a mapped network drive in Vista/7:

1. Open Computer and click Map Network Drive.

home network 351 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

2. Select a drive letter (i.e. Z.) For the folder, add the computer name you are trying to connect to (follow the section titled Put Your Computers in the Same Workgroup to find your computer name) and then the share as \\COMPUTERNAME\Share

i.e.

\\mintylaptop\mintyfolder

Check Reconnect at logon if you would like the mapped network drive to be accessible next time you restart your machine.

Click Finish.

home network 36 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

3. Now, from Computer, you will see your mapped network drive. Double click on it to view the files.

home network 37 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

You’re Done

Now you’re set up with the following:

  1. Your computers are on the same workgroup.
  2. You’ve shared your files and folders.
  3. You have access to your files and folders from your other computers.

Return to the series to find what to do next.



 Share Files with XP, Vista, and 7 on Your Windows Home Network [How To]

About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix the problems he creates.

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Comments

  • Tanner Rogers777

    Does this use bandwidth?

    • http://richr.org/ Rich

      Only home network bandwidth. Your ISPs bandwidth cap (if you have one) is not affected/reached through home networking–thankfully!


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