In many of our tutorials about networking in Windows 7 and Windows 8, you will see that we mention quite often the Network and Sharing Center. This panel is the entrance point to many networking tasks. Therefore, in this article I will show you what is the Network and Sharing Center, how to launch it and which are the main tasks you can do starting from here.
What is the Networking and Sharing Center?
Simply put, the Network and Sharing Center is the control panel from where most of networking settings and tasks can be launched, both in Windows 7 and Windows 8.
Tasks which are Launched from Networking and Sharing Center
Let’s start with Windows 7: the Network and Sharing Center window is split in two. On the left side there is a column with shortcuts to tasks such as: managing your wireless networks, changing settings for all network adapters and changing network sharing settings. On the bottom left side there are shortcuts to the HomeGroup settings panel, to the Internet Options panel and to the Windows Firewall control panel.
On the right there is a big white area split in two parts. The upper-side shows you basic information about your current network connection: the name of the active network, access type and the HomeGroup to which your computer belongs. The lower-side contains links towards wizards which help you do the following: setup a new connection or network, connect to another network, change HomeGroup and sharing settings and troubleshoot problems.
In Windows 8, the panel looks almost the same, with some minor differences. For example, the "Connect to a network" link is gone, simply because its wizard is the same as the one for "Set up a new connection or network".
The "Choose homegroup and sharing options" link is also gone, because the same Homegroup settings can be accessed via the Homegroup link on the left column.
On the left column, you won’t find the "Manage wireless networks" link, not even on laptops. That's because the management of wireless networks connections is done differently in Windows 8. More details about it can be found here: How to Manage Wireless Network Connections & Profiles in Windows 8.
How to Start the Networking and Sharing Center?
The Network and Sharing Center can be launched using several methods. One way is to launch the Run window by pressing the Windows key + R, type
"control.exe /name Microsoft.NetworkAndSharingCenter" and click OK. This works both in Windows 7 and Windows 8.
A second alternative, that works only in Windows 7, is to click on the network icon from the right side of the taskbar and then on "Open Network and Sharing Center".
The third way is to go to "Control Panel -> Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center". This works both in Windows 7 and Windows 8.
In Windows 8 you can also search for the words "network sharing" and click the appropriate search result under Settings.
The same search can be done also in Windows 7's Start Menu search box.
As you can see from this tutorial, the Network and Sharing Center is one of the most important panels when managing your network connections. If you are looking for other cool tips and tricks on networking, don't hesitate to read some of our recommendations below.