Do you want to easily share documents, videos, photos, printers, and other items among the different Windows devices in your home? You need a homegroup.
Available in Windows 7 through Windows 10, a homegroup is a collection of computers that can share files and printers with other members of the group. The idea is to make sharing as quick and easy as possible so you're not struggling to network the various Windows devices in your household.
Depending on your version of Windows, you can create the homegroup either during the setup process or after Windows has already been installed. We'll look at the latter option on a Windows 10 computer.
Go to Control Panel and click on the icon for Homegroup or just type the word homegroup in the Cortana search field and click on the search result for Homegroup. At the HomeGroup window, click on the button to Create a homegroup.
At the first screen to Create a Homegroup, click Next. At the next screen, choose the items you want to share among the devices in your homegroup. You can select pictures, videos, music, documents, and printers & devices. To share an item, make sure the permissions box is set to Shared. To unshare an item, make sure the box is set to Not shared. Click Next.
Windows creates the homegroup. At the next screen, make note of the password for your homegroup; you'll need it for any computer that joins the group. Print the password or copy and paste it into a text file or document. Click Finish.
Joining a Homegroup
Now you want another Windows device to join your new homegroup. To do so, that device must be a member of the same workgroup as the device on which you created the homegroup.
You can check and change the name of the homegroup for a Windows device as follows: Right-click on the Start button and then click on System. In the section for Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, make sure the workgroup name for your two devices is the same.
If not, click on the link to Change settings. At the System Properties window, click on the Change button, change the workgroup name to match that of your other device. Click OK. You'll be prompted to reboot your computer.
Sign back into Windows. Go to Control Panel and click on the icon for Homegroup. Windows should be aware that you've already created a homegroup. Click on the Join now button.
At the next screen, click Next. Choose the items you want to share from your current device.
At the next screen, type the password for your homegroup. Click Next.
Click Finish to exit the homegroup setup. You can now start sharing your files and printers among the two Windows devices. You can repeat the same steps for any other Windows devices that you want to join the homegroup.
To access a shared file, open File Explorer (or Windows Explorer), scroll down to the bottom of the left pane, and you should see a new section for Homegroup. Click to see the other devices in your homegroup. Click on one of the devices, and the right pane displays the various folders for documents, music, photos, and other items you chose to share. Double-click on a shared folder to access its contents.
You can tweak the settings and perform other tasks for your homegroup. On any device in the homegroup, go to Control Panel and double-click the icon for Homegroup. From the Homegroup window, you can change what you're sharing, allow media devices to play shared videos and other content, view or print the homegroup password, change the password, leave the homegroup, change advanced sharing settings, and start the Homegroup troubleshooter if you bump into any problems.