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Lesson 5: Sharing With the Homegroup

How to View the Homegroup Password

If you need to learn the password for the Homegroup, you can learn it from any PC or device that is part of it. In Windows 7 or on a Windows 8.x desktop PC, open the HomeGroup control panel. In the “Other homegroup actions” section, click the link that says “View or print the homegroup password”.

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The password is now displayed and you can also print it, using the “Print this page” button. When done learning the password, click “Cancel”.

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In Windows 8.x you can also go to “PC Settings > Network > HomeGroup”. Below the list of switches for sharing with the Homegroup, you will find the “Password” section, displaying the password.

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How to Join a Homegroup in Windows 7

To join a Homegroup, open the HomeGroup control panel. You are notified that another user on another Windows computer or device has created a Homegroup on the network. Make sure that you know the password for this Homegroup and click “Join now”.

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You are asked to select what you would like to share with the Homegroup. If you don’t want to share anything yet, uncheck all the options that are displayed. Otherwise, feel free to select the libraries you want to share.

When done, click “Next”.

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Type the password for the Homegroup and then click “Next”.

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Windows takes several seconds to connect your computer to the Homegroup. When done, you are welcomed to the Homegroup.

To close this wizard, click “Finish”.

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Your computer is now part of the Homegroup and can share content and devices with others that are part of it.

How to Join a Homegroup in Windows 8.x

If you are a desktop PC user, you can use the same procedure for joining the Homegroup, as in Windows 7. All you have to do is go to the Control Panel, find the HomeGroup control panel and follow the instructions shared in the previous section. However, both PC and tablet users can use “PC Settings” and join the Homegroup faster than when using the Control Panel.

Open “PC Settings” and go to “Network > HomeGroup”. You are informed that a Homegroup is available for joining. Enter the password in the appropriate field and click or tap “Join”.

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Windows 8.x takes a couple of seconds to join the Homegroup. When done, you can select the libraries and devices that are shared with the Homegroup.

We’ll talk more about sharing with the Homegroup in the next section.How to Share Libraries & Printers with the Homegroup

To make things simple, the “HomeGroup” “Control Panel” displays all the standard libraries that exist in Windows, plus printers.

Checking any of them will share the respective items with all other computers and devices that are part of the Homegroup. Unchecking an item means that you do not want to share it with the Homegroup. When selecting “Printers”, you will share all the printers that are attached to your Windows PC or device. If you have two printers, both of them are shared.

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In order to apply your changes, don’t forget to press the “Save changes” button.

In Windows 8.x, if you go to the “HomeGroup” sub-section in “PC Settings”, you will see switches for each of the standard libraries, for your printers and for letting devices on your network to stream your music and videos.

All the switches are initially set to “Off”, meaning that nothing is shared with the Homegroup. If you want to share a library with the Homegroup, set its switch to “On” and wait a couple of seconds until the sharing is performed.

The “Printers” switch is for sharing all the printers that are attached to your PC or device.

Note, starting with Windows 8.1, Update 1, Microsoft has added a new switch that says “Let devices on this network (like TVs and game consoles) stream my music and videos.” If you set this to “On”, your “Music” and “Videos” libraries are made available for streaming. You can then stream their contents from your Xbox One console or from another Windows device, using Windows Media Player.

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To turn off the sharing of a library or of your printers, set the appropriate switch to “Off”.

One thing you should remember is that sharing with the Homegroup is done on a per-user basis. Even if one user account can join a computer to the Homegroup, it will be able to set only what that user account is sharing with the Homegroup. Other user accounts can log in and share their own different resources with the Homegroup.

What if You Want to Share More than the Standard Libraries with the Homegroup?

This is a very legitimate problem that many users will have. As you can see from this lesson, the Homegroup’s control panel offers options only for sharing standard libraries and your printers.

If you want to share some specific folders or additional libraries that you have created, you cannot share them from these panels. But, you can share them with the Homegroup by using the Sharing Wizard or the Advanced Sharing wizard that are available in Windows. These sharing wizards will be covered in lessons 6 and 7.

How to Leave a Homegroup in Windows 7

Leaving a Homegroup is as easy as joining it. Go to the “HomeGroup” control panel. In the “Other homegroup actions section, click the link that says “Leave the homegroup”.

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A new window is displayed informing you that if you leave the homegroup, you cannot access or share its files and printers.

Confirm your choice by pressing “Leave the homegroup”.

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Windows then takes a while to leave the Homegroup.

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When done, you are informed about the success of this procedure. Click “Finish”.

How to Leave the Homegroup in Windows 8.x

Windows 8.x includes also a faster way of leaving the Homegroup. Even though the procedure shared in the previous section works also in Windows 8.x, you may want to use this method instead.

Go to “PC Settings > Network > HomeGroup”. At the bottom of the list with switches for sharing with the Homegroup, you will find the “Leave button”. Click or tap on it and wait for a couple of seconds.

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Once finished, your Windows 8.x PC or device is no longer part of the Homegroup.

A Homegroup stops existing when all computers that are part of it leave. If there’s one Windows computer or devices on your network that is still part of it, then it will continue to exist.

Coming up Next …

In the next lesson we will share how to use the Sharing Wizard to share everything you want with others on the network. You will also learn how to share with other operating systems that are not created by Microsoft.

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Ciprian Adrian Rusen is an experienced technology writer and author with several titles published internationally by Microsoft Press. You can connect with him on 7 Tutorials, Twitter, and Google+ or even buy his books on Amazon.

  • Published 04/11/14

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