How to share files between computers with Windows HomeGroup?

USB drives have made our lives easier to share files. But what if we can do away with it in some scenarios where there are different computers "on" in the same network at home. We can do so easily by setting up "Homegroup" if you are using Windows 7 or Windows 8.

A HomeGroup makes it easier to share files and printers on a home network. You can share pictures, music, videos, documents, and printers with other people in your HomeGroup. Other people can't change the files that you share, unless you give them permission to do so. HomeGroup is only available on home networks.

Setting up a HomeGroup could be ideal for home and small office to simplify file sharing between computers.  You can even stream music and videos too.

Check out this example.In this example, I have two laptops with Windows 7 and another with Windows 8.

How to create a HomeGroup on Windows:

  • Go to "Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Network and Sharing Center"
  • Click on "HomeGroup" at the left bottom corner of the screen.

  • In the next window, click on "Create a HomeGroup"
  • Then, select what you want to share.
You should have options to check picture, music, my documents, printers, and videos. 

The items shown above are "Pictures", "Documents", "Videos", "Music" folders that you see in Libraries in File Explorer.

Don't want to share certain folders inside the folders shared above, don't worry, we'll change sharing setting later. Read on.

  • Click Next after you have selected what to share.

The "HomeGroup" password will be provided which will be used by others to connect to your "HomeGroup". Note it down! It will be required later. If the password seems complex, you can change it later.

  • Click on Finish.
You have successfully created a 'HomeGroup".

You should now see "HomeGroup" item on your Windows File Explorer on the left hand side bar.

How to connect to a HomeGroup?

If a HomeGroup  created in your network, you can connect to it. You will need to have the password for the HomeGroup from the person who created the HomeGroup.

  • Click "HomeGroup" item on your Windows File Explorer on the left hand side bar.

  • Click on "Join Now"
  • Click "Next"
  • Type in the HomeGroup password and click "Next"

  • Click Finish
  • You should now see the owner of the HomeGroup in the left side bar under HomeGroup

If the owner of the HomeGroup changes the HomeGroup password, you see a prompt that password has been changed when you access the HomeGroup. You will need to enter the new password to access.

How to change Home Group Password?

The password auto created by Windows for the HomeGroup is usually complex. If you want a simpler password to remember and tell your family members to connect, you can change it here.
  • Click on the HomeGroup from the left side bar of Windows File Explorer window.
  • Click on "View HomeGroup settings".
  • Click on Change the password in the links provided.
  • Type your own password in the next window. You need to remember this password to share with others when they need to connect new computer to the HomeGroup.

Choose what to share: 

How to un-share folders in HomeGroup:

By default all folders inside  "Pictures", "Documents", "Videos", "Music" as you see in the 'Libraries" are shared in the HomeGroup. If you would like to remove some folders from being shared, do the following. Public folders such as "Public Documents", 'Public Music", "Public Videos" and "Public Music" are also shared by default. If you have any folders or files in these documents, move them to other locations.

Steps to stop sharing a folder in HomeGroup:
 For example, under "Pictures", we have "Public Pictures" and "My Pictures". I want to share only "Public Pictures" and not "My Pictures".

To stop sharing "My Pictures", do the following:
  • Click on "Pictures" in the Windows File Explorer left side bar to expand
  • Click on "My Pictures". 
  • Then click on "Share with" in the top bar in the same window. 
  • Select "Nobody".

"My Pictures" is removed from sharing and not visible to others in the  HomeGroup.

Another way to un-share folders:

  • Click Start > click on your username
  • Select any folder that is shared
  • Then click on "Share with" in the top bar in the same window. 
  • Select "Nobody
You can do the same to any other folder to stop sharing.
You might want to test with one computer to see exactly what is being shared.

How to share files to and fro in HomeGroup?

Depending on the permission set by the owner of the HomeGroup, files can be share from the other computer to the HomeGroup owner's computer. You can simply copy and paste the files in the folders.

How to leave a HomeGroup:

  • Go to HomeGroup (Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\HomeGroup)
  • Click Leave the HomeGroup, and then click Finish.

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