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Use the Homegroup Feature in Windows 7 to Share Printers and Files

The new HomeGroup feature makes sharing files and printers between Windows 7 machines very easy.  Today we will take a closer look at this new feature to show how easy the sharing process is.

Setting up your HomeGroup 

There are several ways to access the HomeGroup feature, go to Control Panel and click on “Choose homegroup and sharing options” or just type “homegroup” without quotes into the start menu search bar.

control panel

Next click on the Create a homegroup button.

create 

In the Create a HomeGroup screen select what you want to share with the other machines.

select files

After the group is created you will get a password to access it from the other computers.

pw

After you get the Password you’re brought back to the HomeGroup screen where you can make additional changes if you want.

settings

Connecting to your HomeGroup

On the other Windows 7 computer(s) go into the HomeGroup feature and click to join the group you just created.

Join Group

Enter in the password that was created for the HomeGroup.

enter Pass

When the password is accepted the connection will take place and your finished.

login successful

If you don’t want to use a password at all go into the Network and Sharing Center under advanced options and turn off password protected sharing.

offpw

Another thing you might want to do is create a shortcut to the HomeGroup.  I just go into Network and copy the icon to my desktop by Right-Clicking and dragging it.  A more direct approach is to create shortcuts directly to the shared public folders but of course it’s completely up to you.

shortcut

To share a printer make sure to select Printers when creating the group and when you go into Devices and Printers on the Start menu you should see it and can set it as the default if you wish.

printer

This should help get you started sharing files and printers between your Windows 7 machines on your home network.  If you still have an XP machine on your home network check out how to Share Files and Printers between Windows 7 and XP.

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 06/9/09

Comments (45)

  1. GoodBytes

    A little off topic, but this is something I want to know.
    I have 2 system running Vista, and I want computer2 to access files and printer form computer1. Now, that works fine here. My problem, is to make this possible, I had to create an account on computer1 with the same user name and password, so that the the folders and devices I want to share doesn’t need a user name and password. In result in computer1 I have 2 accounts where one is just there annoying me at the login screen, and just not used. Is there another way to do what I want to do without the need to create and account on computer1?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. camron9989

    Network and Sharing Center > Turn on: Network discovery, File sharing,Printer sharing. To share a folder, right click on the folder on the host computer and click “Share” > Select which PCs you wish to share with (note: you can only use this method to share folders with other computers on the same network; everybody = anybody on the network).

    Printing from the 2nd computer (This will only work if both computers are on and connected to the network): on the 2nd computer: Network and Sharing Center > View Computers and Devices > double click on the printer and it will automatically be installed.

    (You may need to do this on the 2nd computer: Network and Sharing Center > Turn on: Network discovery, File sharing,Printer sharing. )

    The shared folder can be accessed from the 2nd computer by: Network and Sharing Center > View Computers and Devices > navigate to host computer > locate shared folder.

  3. camron9989

    My previous comment was a reply to GoodBytes.

    You can also do this:
    On my computer, I have created a separate partition for sharing files. I simply right clicked on the new drive and clicked share. On the other computers I used “map network drive”‘ to make the host folder appear as a new drive.

  4. GoodBytes

    Thanks Camron, so it seams that the only setup I can have is anyone who connects to my network, or be account based like I have, where the system that has folder/device shared needs to have the other computer account and password.

  5. Ben

    Gee, tell us something that’s NOT in the help files…
    How about when you get a message about ‘this computer cannot join a homegroup’ along with something about the time not synchronized, when it IS.

    The troubleshooters in Win 7 are NOT any better than they were way back in Win 98 — basics only!!!

  6. Daniel Brockman

    When, after several hours of screwing around, I finally figured out how to disable the security on Public and “Home and Work” (whatever that is), I was able to share the printer to both my XP and Vista machines. Microsoft must think its customers worth 25 cents an hour. The homegroup idea is poorly implemented in Windows 7. I don’t understand how or why one would want to use it.

  7. prashant

    I am not able to get the home group password. suggest me a method to get one.
    I have all sorts of pc’s on dis home group grm win XP to win 7

  8. Robbie

    I am getting an error that I have no IPv6 connection. I have checked several different places and all areas it is showing that everything is correct. Can someone please help me troubleshoot this?

  9. farhan

    my pc does not show the join group option, it soe how can just detect it but the problem is the files i put on shre folder does not appear. it justshows the file on my laptop to me not the ones i desire to see which belong to the other pc. HeLP!!!

  10. my-tech

    Another way I like to accomplish sharing folders printers etc is:
    1 – in user accounts create a new user and this user must be a
    standard user and have a password
    2 – right click folder,file or printer
    goto properties then sharing tab
    choose share button , now pick add and add the new user
    don’t change admin or main user read/write settings !!!
    But you can remove all other users and have added users only read or
    read and write privilages. Click ok/apply or share to make it so
    ( not at CPU now , can’t rem exactly if it’s ok /share or whatever)

    now in my computer icon (on remote CPU) go under network and choose target
    sharing pc, double click and you should be prompted for user name and pass
    u can check the box to save it or if it depends who’s sitting at remote pc
    you may not check the box incase u want to use another account with different
    access settings :)
    notes: all user should have password !!

  11. Johan Meyer

    This mite be the web site I need

  12. Johan Meyer

    Iam looking for ORC folder for my priter I am away from and wouid like if you could help me the printer Laxmark x2470 All in one cant get my work done .I would like if I could get my work done.

  13. Biju

    It is very useful for me. Great thanks.

  14. Mytech

    You can share a printer a few ways

    1 plug printer into router
    2 share printer over network
    3 share wirelessly

    In any situation you need to install
    The printer driver onto the computer that is
    Printing. If sharing from a printer connected
    To another computer the computer the printer
    Is connected to must be turned on !

  15. Bien

    So this means, if my main computer is running on Windows 7, I can’t use the homegroup for printer sharing if my 2 other computer are running on Vista? Thanks.

  16. Mytech

    If anybody actually read the excellent guide at the top of this page it’s very easy to share the printer across windows7 machines and at the bottom there is a link of another great tutorial on how to share between windows7 & xp & vista . Reread and check it out !!

    Sent from my iPhone

  17. distill

    I got it working only after the following:

    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.

    (FYI: “start / Local Security Policy / Local Policies / Security Options / Accounts: Limit
    local account use of blank passwords” can be left Enabled with this method. Also check start / Manage advanced sharing settings / “Public folder sharing” and “Password protected sharing”, I have the public folder on and password protected sharing off.)

  18. Jeremy

    This was awsome I got it to work on the first try Thank you for saving me $100.00 with geek squad that I thought I had it covered by the black tie but I guess not

  19. mOsArt

    I’m having problems with trying to get the printer to share…

    There are 2 computers one running Windows 7 Pro and the other Windows 7 Pro 64x…

    I thought I was going crazy after an hour of trying to get the easy setup going but
    I noticed all the boxes were checked for sharing and I noticed that all the pics, videos etc folders
    were available for sharing on both computers…
    However, there was no printer showing up on the computer without the computer installed..

    then once I clicked the advanced settings on the homegroup and selected the share printer on public and home and network….

    It showed up…the printer showed up but the icon was of a scanner with the name of the HP All in one name on it…I tried using it and kept getting error….

    Can anyone tell me why the printer won’t show up?…I followed the setup step by step

  20. mOsArt

    I forgot to add that….all the other folders were accessible….after several several thorough resubmitting Homegroups…the printer still never showed up…

  21. Zarah

    Your guide is useless, the homegroup sharing is useless. Where is the simple 2 second method of sharing files in a Workgroup? What is it with libraries and stupid stuff that is being added to windows.

    I have used and networked Windows computers since 1990 and I have had with with Windows 7, its is so damn hard and difficult to share a folder its unbelievable.

    Stop thinking of everyoone as stupid idiots putting all their photos in My Documents/Pictures, that is non-sense. We have folders and we are organized. I dont want anything in a LONG LONG LONG path under USERS/blahblah/Pictures

    VERY FRUSTRATIN G in seeing Microsoft going backwards all the time.

    WHERE IS BILL GATES?

  22. mOsArt

    LOL….

    I’d rather use Federora or Ubuntu but hey….I need certain programs that only are Windows Accessible.

    Boy it sounds like you’re having a hard time with Windows 7..its actually copying Linux OS

    Anyone else with some help?

  23. kolaposeun

    hi every body

  24. kolaposeun

    hi what’s up everybody.

  25. billy

    You guys make it harder than it really is. Yes Windows 7 is moving backwards inthe sharing department, but what they were trying to do was build what is known to be an intranet., However they like usual have failed in their efforts. anytime you have to buy a printserver or a new printer with an ethernet built in. Then in my opion you are moving backwards.

    Remember Microsoft only hires Tards!

  26. jwp3575

    I love love love your website!!!! I’ve been searching for how to set up a wireless window 7 printer sharing at home and found your website in the list and will never go anywhere else again!!!! The pics with step by step instructions are the best!!!!! Everything is working great now! Thank you so much…..for being you…..haha

  27. Denise

    Thank you for your time ahead of time. I appreciate the above notes and followed all the steps to confirm that my laptop is still in my homegroup with my desktop. Both run windows 7 and have been setup for about a year on a network with my printer set up on my desktop and shared with my laptop as long as it is on. Now, all of the sudden my printer icon on my laptop show bidirectional support is disabled. I have gone over everything on the desktop and made sure bidirectional support is enabled and it still alerts me. It enables me to print from my laptop but warns me often to enable it. I am confused. What did I do and how can I undo it?
    Thank you so much
    Denise

  28. Mag

    I have everything working…shared between two windows 7 computers but when I go to print from my one of my computers it comes up with printer error. The printer is turned on and the computer that it is attached to is on and logged on. What am I missing?
    Thanks

  29. Mac

    I have been doing exactly what these instructions said to do but I can not access my files on my PC from my laptop. Accessing my PC from my Macbook was no problem. I have come to the conclusion that homegroup in Windows 7 does not work for Windows 7 to Windows 7 access.

  30. bigdodge

    I have just the opsete of MAC the PC can see the files on the laptop but the laptop only see a folder and when I click on the folder no files are found. the loptop also see the printer but when I try to connect is says the address is wrong.

  31. Derek

    I have a PC and laptop both running windows 7 32 bit. I have set up a HomeGroup and the two computer can share files.
    The laptop can see the USB HP Printer attached to the PC. However, when it tries to print to the printer all that happens is that the printer ejects a blank sheet of paper. Both computers are using the latest HP driver. Running the Printer Troubleshooting wizard does not help.
    Does anyone know what the problem is?

  32. Nadhir

    i try the steps still im not able to print from Xp to windows7 32bit,
    im using Hp Lj1020 printer . can you please tell me how i can establish active link between both machine .

    thanks

  33. bruce

    I have a desktop and 3 laptops on my homegroup, I just got another desktop and want to make the new one the base for the homegroup instead of the older desktop. How do I do this?

  34. Judi

    I have Windows 7×64 and an Epson Photo Stylus 1400 wide format (non wireless) which is connected to the desktop via usb. These are working fine. I also have the desktop connected to a broadband modem and a new router and they work great. I have a wireless laptop that works great from the router to the internet, I added it to the desktop homegroup and trying to set up the printer via this way so I can use my laptop to print but it won’t. I even connected my laptop to the router itself (I turned off the wireless, of course) so that maybe this was the problem but the network doesn’t see the laptop. Does anyone have any information to help me with this or is it wishful thinking? Epson said it can be done but I seem to be missing something.

  35. Andrea

    I need HELP!
    I got my Pc and Laptop connected. I can see the libraries that I have placed as shared, but when I want to copy a library from the PC on my laptop it doesn’t let me., saying: “Could not find this item. This is no longer located in:….. Verify the item’s location an try again”. I don’t understand what I’ve done wrong. The same problem occures when I try to copy a library from my Laptop to the PC. I can’t even open the libraries, because I wanted to copy just one file from a library.
    Any advise?

  36. belvinder

    i have problem in my pc. when i install kaspersky2011 internet security. it cant install
    & error message tThe installation ended prematurely because of an error how to solve this error

  37. Parto

    Why dont you all make your lives easier – no wait, that’s wrong – easiest by moving to ubuntu. Windows, me – never. Mostly windows 7, xp was at least better.

  38. Parto

    Oh n I lyk that guy Zarah who said he had been networkin comps since 1990…..great stuff. Thumbs up.

  39. sandeep

    how to connect pc in wrokgroup in windows 7 pro. & how to share printer & folder with other pc aslo installed windows 7 pro.

  40. Agrawal

    @Prashant, the password you need to use is: H1BVISAURNID10T

  41. Paavo

    printer is sharing win7 and my laptop porf xp dont see the printer or win7 computer what i make wrong?
    no firewall only tompsons swtch

  42. majid

    printer is sharing win7 and my laptop porf xp dont see the printer or win7 computer what i make wrong?
    no firewall only tompsons swtch

  43. vl95e5iG4j

    vl95e5iG4j

  44. B

    Once again, MS figures out how to make something that is so simple really retarded.

    They are pros at it.

  45. Ali

    if your home group has password how can you break the pasword and join the grp

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