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How to set up file sharing on Windows 10

Sharing files and folders with other users of your computer, or other devices on your network, is something that sounds rather complicated – but really isn't. Windows 10 incorporates some useful tools to help you get shared folders set up and running quickly and easily.

There are two very different ways to set up file sharing within Windows 10: through 'Windows HomeGroups' and or through File Explorer. Which one you should use largely depends on how much control you want over what's shared.

HomeGroups simply share all your files of a particular type (pictures or documents, for example), whereas the File Explorer method allows you to create a shared folder for Windows 10 through your Network and Sharing Settings.

These are very different in how they're set up, so we'll take a look at them separately.

Method 1: Share files using File Explorer

This method of sharing allows for greater flexibility, as it is not restricted to newer PCs: files and folders shared using this method will be accessible to any device on your local network.

This means that you can share a folder of pictures, for example, and view them on a Mac, or even an Android tablet, as long as they're connected to the same network that the PC hosting the shared folder is on. Neat, eh?

Password protected sharing

By default, any files and folders you share from Windows 10 are secured behind the Windows login information on the sharing computer. This means that to access the shared items, the user will have to log on with their Windows user name and password as used on the sharing PC. If you're setting up sharing for your family members, for example, you can allow access to everyone, or just specific users. This is called editing permissions, and we'll cover that a little later on.

You can, if you wish, disable the requirement to log on with Windows credentials every time you access the shared documents. This is really only a good idea if you are the only person who uses your network as it would allow anyone that connects to your network the ability to access (and potentially change or delete) your files without 'proving' to the computer hosting them that they're allowed to do so (by logging on).

To disable password-protected sharing (not recommended), go to Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Change advanced sharing settings > All Networks > Password-protected sharing and change the radio button to Turn off password-protected sharing, before clicking to Save changes.

Share a file or folder on your network

  1. Use File Explorer (located on the taskbar) to navigate to the item you wish you share (in our example we want to share a folder called XH558).
  2. Right click on the item you wish to share, and at the bottom of the menu that appears click Properties.
Share a folder in Windows 10 1
  1. On the Properties window, click the Sharing tab.
  2. Locate and click on the Advanced Sharing... button.
Share a folder in Windows 10 2
  1. At the top, tick the box to Share this folder.
  2. By default, sharing a file or folder from Windows 10 allows other users read-only access, which means they can open it, but nothing else. If that's what you'd like to have happen, then click OK and the folder is shared. If you want to allow others to edit or delete the contents of the folder (an example of this might be where you have several computers and devices and want to be able to do anything to your files from any device) then you need to click Permissions to make these changes, and follow the instructions below.
Share a folder in Windows 10 3

Editing permissions

If you want to allow all users that access the shared files and folders permission to edit or delete, then you need to make a small change within the Advanced Sharing settings for the file or folder concerned. To get to these, right-click on the folder, then click Properties > Sharing > Advanced Sharing > Permissions.

With the Permissions window open, you will see that Everyone is the default option highlighted. At the bottom you will see some tickboxes that Allow or Deny various access for the highlighted user (Everyone). Tick the Change box under the word Allow, then click the OK button to give everyone permission.

Edit sharing permissions in Windows 10

To only allow specific users (that already have user accounts set up on the computer) to edit the shares items, without allowing everyone, is a little more complex. In our example below, we're giving a user called Martin permission to change the folder we've shared:

  1. Beneath the Group or user names box, click Add....
  2. Type the name of the user account you wish to grant the permissions to, then click Check Names.
Add user specific permissions in windows 10 1
  1. If the user exists on the computer, then you should see it appear with a path as shown here. Click OK to finish adding the user's permissions.
  2. Our example now shows Martin has permission to Change the shared folder, as well as Read its' contents. Click OK to close this window.
Add user specific permissions in windows 10 2

Method 2: Share files using Windows Homegroups

HomeGroups allows for a simple method of sharing files and folders securely between PCs that run Windows 7 or newer and are connected to your home network. This is very convenient, but also quite limiting, as it doesn't allow for sharing anything with older versions of Windows, or devices running a different operating system (such as a tablet or smartphone).

HomeGroups are password protected, so you can control which files and folders are shared and who has access to them. You can even control whether other people can edit your files, or just look at them.

Create or join a HomeGroup

The first thing you'll need to do is either join an existing HomeGroup, or set one up.

  1. Right-click on the Windows icon at the end of the taskbar.
  2. On the menu that opens, click Control Panel.
  3. To find the HomeGroup settings you may need to change the view. If you're looking at general Categories, click the View by drop-down and select an icon view In our example we've chosen Large icons.
Create a HomeGroup on Windows 10 1
  1. You should now see all of the individual elements in the Control Panel. Locate and click on HomeGroup.
  2. If there is an existing HomeGroup on your network, you will see an option to join it by clicking on the name and entering the correct password. If you see a message advising you there is no homegroup on the network (as in our example) then you will need to create one. Click the Create a homegroup button.
Create a HomeGroup on Windows 10 2
  1. A screen opens with some information about sharing, and the security offered by homegroups. Click Next to continue.
  2. The next screen asks you what you would like to share. These are broad settings to control your entire Pictures, Videos, Music, and Documents libraries, and also your Printers & Devices. Click the drop-down menu beside each to choose whether to share the whole library or not. If you only want to set up the ability to share, and not share all of your files, then choose Not Shared for each library.
Create a HomeGroup on Windows 10 3
  1. In order for other computers to join your HomeGroup, they will need the password displayed on screen. Make a note of this (or print it out by clicking the link) so you have it to hand when you need it, then click Finish to complete setting up your Home Group.
  2. You will then see which libraries and devices you're sharing. There are other options to view or change the password if you need to, or even leave the HomeGroup.
Create a HomeGroup on Windows 10 4

Now that your HomeGroup is set up, you can share files and folders to it!

Sharing to your HomeGroup

With your PC connected to a HomeGroup, you can quickly and easily share files and folders with the other computers in the group.

  1. Click the File Explorer icon on the taskbar, then navigate through the folders on your computer until you see the file or folder you'd like to share.
  2. Right-click the folder name, and in the menu that opens move your mouse over the Share with line.
  3. You will then see options to share your chosen file/folder with your homegroup; click the share option you'd like to use. The 'view' option will allow people to look at (open) your files. The 'view and edit' option allows them to not only open your files, but also edit or delete them. If you've previously shared the item and want to stop sharing it to your HomeGroup, there's an option for that too.
Share files and folders with a Windows 10 homegroup

That's all there is to it! The item you've shared will now be visible to other computers in your HomeGroup.


That covers the basics of sharing files and folders from Windows 10 but be sure to check out our entire series of helpful guides to getting the most from Microsoft's new operating system. If you need further assistance or technical support on any other device, why don't you check out our support options then give our Agents a call any time on 0800 049 6190

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