Sharing libraries and folders in Windows 7 is easier than ever, especially when using the HomeGroup feature. In this guide I will continue our series about Windows 7 networking and show you how to enable the Sharing Wizard and how to share or unshare items with computers from your network or HomeGroup.
How to Enable the Sharing Wizard
In Windows 7, the sharing wizard is enabled by default. However, if your sharing menus & options don't look similar to the ones shown in the sections below, it means it is disabled. To enable it back, you need to start Windows Explorer and open Folder Options. To do this, go to 'Organize -> Folder and search options' or read our guide on Where To Find The Folder Options Menu. In the Folder Options window, go to the View tab and check the box that says 'Use Sharing Wizard'.
Then click on OK. The sharing wizard will now be enabled and you will be able to follow the steps below to share files and folders on your network.
How to Share Libraries and Folders on the HomeGroup
If you have setup your own HomeGroup and you want to share something only with the computers inside it, then the procedure is extremely simple.
First, open Windows Explorer and navigate to the library or folder you want to share, right click on it and select 'Share with'. There you will have four options. Two of them are about sharing only with your HomeGroup:
- Nobody - this option will actually unshare the selected item (file or folder). Can be useful when you share a library or collection of folders and files, but you want to keep a specific item unshared. For example, you might share your whole pictures library, but you want some private pictures to remain private and the rest to be accessible to others on your network. By using this option you can quickly filter out what you don't want to have shared from that whole pictures collection.
- Homegroup (Read) - this option will share the selected item over your HomeGroup and give read only permissions. The item will be shared only when you are connected to the HomeGroup and other computers will be able to only view/read the shared item, but not modify it, delete it or change it in any way. If you disconnect from your HomeGroup, it will not be available as a shared item.
- Homegroup (Read/Write) - this will share the item with your HomeGroup and give full permissions to all computers which are part of it. The item will not be shared when you disconnect from the HomeGroup or connect to another network.
- Specific people - this option allows you to share the selected items both with your HomeGroup and computers and users who are part of a different network, or computers which are not part of the HomeGroup. This will be detailed more in the section below.
If you selected any of the first three options, the item will be shared or unshared. You don't need to do anything else.
NOTE: Depending on what you have shared, you might see an additional window, asking you to confirm that you want to start sharing. Make the appropriate confirmation and you are done. The same applies when you want to unshare. You might receive a window asking you to confirm that you want to stop sharing the item.
How to Share Libraries or Folders with Specific People
You can share content also with people and computers which are not part of your HomeGroup. To do this, you need to use the 4th option detailed above, called 'Specific people'.
The File Sharing wizard will now start. At first you will see a list with all people who currently have access to the selected item and their permission level.
To add access for somebody else, click on the drop-down list. There you will see a list with all available options. This will contain all user accounts created on your PC, the HomeGroup you have joined and a user called Everyone. The HomeGroup option will share the item with all computers which joined it, while Everyone means the item is shared with anybody, no matter the network, HomeHroup, etc. Select the option you need.
Once you selected with whom you want to share the item, click on the Add button and it will be added to the list below, together with the other users/accounts that have access to it.
By default, all users you add will be assigned read permissions, which means they won't be able to change or delete the shared item. If you want to give them also write permissions, click on the arrow from the 'Permission level' column and select Read/Write.
After you have added all the users you want to share the item with, click on the Share button.
After a while, you will receive a notification that the item was shared. Click on Done.
This procedure works for both libraries and folders.
How to Stop Sharing a Library or Folder
If you want to stop sharing something, you can stop sharing it with everybody, stop sharing it with your HomeGroup or with a specific user account.
To stop sharing a folder or library with everybody, right click on it, select 'Share with' and then Nobody.
If you want to stop sharing it with your HomeGroup or just a specific user, right click on it, select 'Share with' and then 'Specific people'.
The File Sharing wizard will start and you will see a list with all the people who currently have access to the selected item and their permission level. Click on HomeGroup if you want to stop sharing with the computers from your HomeGroup. If you want to remove access for a specific account, select that account.
Then, click on the current permission level and select Remove from the menu that will appear. Do this for all users you want to remove and, when ready, click on Share.
After a few seconds the File Sharing window will disappear and the access will be removed.
As you can see from this tutorial, sharing libraries and folders via the Sharing Wizard is very easy. Especially if you want to share something with your HomeGroup. It can be done only with a few clicks in a much faster manner than in Windows XP or Windows Vista. If you want to share your experience on this topic, don't hesitate to leave a comment.