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Learning Windows 7: Create a Homegroup & Join a New Computer To It

One of the cool new features in Windows 7 is the Homegroup feature that allows easy sharing of files between machines. Today we take a look at how to add a new Windows 7 machine to an existing Homegroup.

In this example we’ll assume you have a desktop and a laptop both running Windows 7 and a Homegroup wasn’t created during installation. We’ll create the Homegroup on the desktop computer, then join the laptop to it.

Create a Homegroup

To start using the Homegroup feature we need to create one first. On the desktop computer type homegroup into the search box in the Start Menu and hit Enter.

1 Homegroup

In the window that pops up click on the Create a homegroup button.

1create

In the next screen select what you want to share with the other computers in the homegroup and hit Next.

2 create

The Homegroup is created and a password will be generated that other computers will need to join it.

3create

You may need to wait a few moments while the sharing of the libraries of the Homegroup are completed. The items under Share libraries and printers will be grayed out until the the sharing is completed.

7create

Change Homegroup Password

You can certainly stick with the password Windows created for the Homegroup, or can change it to something that’s easier for you to remember. Under Other homegroup actions click on Change the password.

4create

In the next screen type in the password you want to use and click Next.

5create

You will get a screen letting you know it was successfully changed…click Finish.

6 create

Join Computer to Homegroup

Now that we have the Homegroup established, it’s time to join another computer to it. On the laptop click on Start and type homegroup into the search box and hit Enter.

1 Homegroup

In the next screen you will see a description of the Homegroup we just created—click the Join now button.

13joins

Decide what to share on the laptop with the Homegroup and click Next.

14joins

Type in the password to join the Homegroup and click Next.

15joins

Provided the network connection is established and you entered in the correct password…you’ll get the following screen indicating the join was successful.

16joins

Now you can open up Windows Explorer and should see the Homegroup you just joined in the Navigation Pane and be able to share files, folders, and printers.

sshot-2010-01-26-[00-53-49]

Also on the laptop, if you go to Start \ Devices and Printers…

20device

There you should see the printer connected to the desktop and can set it as your default printer.

21device

The Homegroup feature in Windows 7 makes sharing files and printers extremely easy. You’ll also have access to shared media libraries in Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center to stream media using the Play To option. This should get you started with the Homegroup feature in Windows7. You can create and join a Homegroup in Windows 7 Home Premium and higher. Basic and Starter editions only allow you to join an existing Homegroup. You might also like to read our article on how to change which files are shared in a Homegroup.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/27/10

Comments (11)

  1. Alexander Sverdlov

    They could have made it easier, right now I can’t imagine an old lady setting up file sharing as it was before – before all you had to know is the IP/user/pass of the target machine. Why make it 10 screen hard to share a file? Microsoft never stops to amaze me.

  2. gayathrri

    thanks a lot……….. .

  3. gizas

    hello. when i’m trying to join a homegroup it tells me “Your network connection must have IPv6 enabled to create or join a homegroup. To enable IPv6, start the HomeGroup troublesooter.” ,but the TroubleSooter does’n help. what should i do?

  4. distill

    There are some instructions on that IPv6 issue elsewhere, but here’s my guide to this if the HomeGroup doesn’t work as is:

    1. Do the following on ALL computers:
    2. start / Change workgroup name -> Change workgroup = MYWORKGROUP
    3. start / HomeGroup -> Create a homegroup, follow instructions = join the same
    homegroup from the other computer(s), use the predetermined random password
    4. start / Credential Manager -> Add a Windows credential ->
    – Internet or network address = remote computer’s name, eg. UpstairsPC
    – User name: MyUser
    – password: [yourPassword] (can be put to “remember” by the connecting computer later)
    5. start / Computer Management / System Tools / Local Users and Groups / Users ->
    New User (= right click):
    – User name: MyUser
    – Password: [yourPassword]
    – tick ONLY [x] Password never expires
    – Create, Close
    6. At this point you may have to wait for a short while or reboot computers
    to have those settings updated in the network.
    7. Share the folders you want like this:
    – navigate to your folder (double click eg. “ShareThisFolder”, not a whole drive)
    – Share with (located on top bar) -> Specific people
    – from the pulldown menu choose MyUser, Add, change permission to Read/Write, Share
    8. Now you should be able to connect to the shared folder from other computers like this:
    Open Computer (start / Computer). Top bar Organize / Layout / Navigation pane should be
    enabled for this. On the left you should see both Homegroup (and other user-computers in it) and
    Network with other computers in CAPS. From either, you should be able to go to the shared
    folder and for the first time it should ask for user (PrivateNetworkUser) and password.
    9. If the previous works, you can also Map network drive (top) or Add network location (right click)
    in Computer.

  5. Pradeesh k

    very good solutions thankssssss…………

  6. Mark

    Running the homegroup gui on the laptop only gave the option to set up a new home group. It looked as if the one running on the PC was not detected.

  7. Frank O

    I have run the homegroup set up on my desktop. I’ve changed the password to something easy. Additionally, I’ve rebooted both the daesk top and lap top. Also, I’ve run every freakin diagnostic that windows can throw at me and still I’ve got an issue….. EVERY single set of help instructions tell me I’ll get an option to “JOIN a home group” but that is not true. On my lap top there are only two choices: 1 Create or Cancel. So how do I get this magical join button to appear?

  8. Xuanying

    I don’t get the “join a homegroup” option as well!!! :(

  9. divakar

    i don’t get d “join now” option……

  10. RaFi

    Please add a very important information: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2521416

  11. MEHDI

    I can’t join to homegroup with correct pass!!
    What I do?
    Please help!

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