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How to share files using a homegroup on Windows 7

This week we're running a series of posts that tackle common Windows networking issues, and some tips and tricks that might speed up or improve your network stability. You can find more tech tips in our Tips index.

One slick new feature Windows 7 introduced was the homegroup, a simple yet powerful way to share files and printers among users on your home network. If you created a homegroup during the Windows 7 setup process, you can simply right click any folder and choose share with and then grant read-only access (which lets other view and play files) or read-write access (which lets them edit, delete, and add new files).

If you haven't created a homegroup already, it's easy enough to do. Before you start, head to the Network and Sharing Center (hit the Windows key, type sharing, then hit enter). Beneath your active networks, check your current network type. If it's not Home network, click the text (which should say Work or Public) to switch. Only computers on a Home network can join a homegroup -- makes sense, right?

Once you make this change, Windows will search your network for an existing group and ask you to join if it finds one. If not, you'll be asked to create a new one. Choose what kinds of files you want to share, and make sure you jot down the random password Windows creates -- or set your own, more-memorable password.

On your other computers, you only need to join your homegroup. Click the Windows key and type homegroup, then press enter. Windows will detect your homegroup, and you can click the Join now button to connect. Set your sharing options and click next, then enter your password. Now you can right-click and share folders on your other computers as well!

Can't remember your homegroup password? Open the homegroup screen on your other computer(s) and click the link at the bottom of the window to view or print the homegroup password. Once you've entered it on the new system, Windows will begin scanning your network for homegroup-accessible libraries, folders, and printers.

From here on in, sharing folders across your network is as simple as right-clicking in an Explorer window. Here, I'm sharing my portable Google Chrome folder so that I can access it from any system on my network.

Tags: home group, home networking, homegroup, HomeNetworking, how-to, microsot, networking, sharing, tips, win7, windows, windows 7, Windows7

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