How-To Geek

How To Share Files and Printers Between Windows 7 and Vista

With three different versions of Windows being used now, you’ll probably find yourself trying to share files or printers between them. Today we take a look at how to share files and printers between Vista and Windows 7 machines.

In this example we are on a basic home network using Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit version) and Windows Vista Home Premium SP2 (32-bit version).

Set Windows 7 Share Settings

On the Windows 7 machine we need to set up a few things in Advanced Sharing Settings. First type network and sharing center into the search box in the Start Menu and hit Enter.


Then click on Change advanced sharing settings…


Now in Advanced Sharing Settings, make sure to turn on network discovery, file and printer sharing, and public folder sharing. Make sure these are enabled in both the Home or work and Public profiles.


Depending on your setup, you might want to turn off password protected sharing. Other wise you’ll need to enter the password for each machine in, which isn’t that big of a deal. Turning it off while you’re setting it up makes things a bit easier though by saving a step.


Set Vista Share Settings

On the Vista machine we need to double check and make sure it’s sharing settings are ready to go. Right-click on Network and choose Properties.


The Network and Sharing Center opens up. Under Sharing and Discovery we need to turn on File Sharing, Public Folder Sharing, and Network Discovery.


Also on the Vista machine you might want to turn off password protected sharing … but it’s completely up to you.


Share Files Windows 7 View

Now that we have the correct settings on each machine, it’s time to put it to the test. Open up Network on the Windows 7 machine, and you should see all of the machines on the network. The Vista machine in this example is VISTAGEEK-PC.


There was no need to enter a password to access the Vista machine because password protection is turned off. But now you can go through and see the User Shared folders. In this example both public and Users directories are shared.


Share Files Vista View

Now on the Vista computer, double click on Network and you should see the Windows 7 machine (where in this instance it’s MYSTICGEEK-PC).


I enabled password protection on the Windows 7 machine so we can take a look at the login screen that will be displayed before connecting.


Then you’ll see the folders and devices that are shared. Here you can see the HP printer connected to the Windows 7 machine is available.


And you can continue browsing through all available shared folders and files.


Printer Sharing

As we showed above, you can see the printer connected to Windows 7. Let’s make sure we can connect to it and print a test document. In Vista click on the Start menu and type printers into the search box and hit Enter.


Right-click on the shared printer and select Properties.


Under the General tab click on the Print Test Page button.


The following message is displayed while the test page prints out on the printer connected to your Windows 7 machine.


Another test you might want to perform is opening a test document and making sure you can print that to the Windows 7 printer.


Provided everything prints out successfully you might want to make it the default printer.



If your machines aren’t able to see each other or the printer isn’t working…here are a few steps you might want to use to determine where the problem is.

Double check to make sure Network Discovery and File and Print Sharing is enabled on both machines as shown above.


In this example both machines are connected to a Belkin home wireless router and IP addresses are dynamically assigned. If you are using Static addresses make sure you can ping the IP address of each computer. If not, double check the assigned IP Address and cabling of each computer…


If the printer isn’t working, double check to make sure you have the latest drivers for each OS installed.



This should get you started sharing folders, files, and printers between your Vista and Windows 7 system. In this test, we didn’t need to install any different drivers for the printer like you might have to do when sharing a printer between XP and Windows 7. Results with printers are going to vary depending on the printer models and set up. Older printers are notorious for having issues with drivers that won’t work with Vista and or 7. As long as network discovery is enabled on both the Vista and Windows 7 machine, sharing documents is actually a fairly simple process. If you want to share between Windows 7 and XP make sure to check out our previous article–Share Files and Printers between Windows 7 and XP.

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 01/14/10

Comments (53)

  1. Phil

    Cool article, but I have 1 thing to add…in your example when going from the Vista machine to the Win7 machine, you have password protect enabled. This requires the user on the Vista machine to input pwd info to log into the Win7 machine. This doesn’t work if you have pwd protect disabled on Win7 machine…exactly the setup i have on my home network…I have 3 comps; 2 Win7-64, 1 Vista-32. The 2 Win7 comps are using the Homegroup feature (which is awesome, btw) which requires no password, hence my main (server) computer running Win7 is not pwd protected (unnecessary for my network). Therefore my Vista 32 machine (laptop) has no access to the Win7 machines at all. It is one of those odd little quirks between the OS’s. Can you tweak you’re way around that one? I’m thinking no, can’t be done. Now if I could just talk the wife into letting me put Win7 on her laptop…

  2. Andy - The Digitante

    Hopefully Vista gets an update to add Homegroup. That would be convenient.

  3. Dell

    I did what is explained to share files between Win7 and Wind Vista.
    I could see the win7 computer when working on vista. But i could see the vista when working on win7.
    I put then on the same workgroup. I have a wireless router connecting the both computers.

    I tried the mapdrive, still have the same problem: not able to share files.
    Anyone has a suggestion ?

  4. Teguh Santoso

    Saya tidak bisa sharing printer (HP Laserjet 1010) dari windows XP ke windows 7,,dengan pesan error

    Windows can’t find a driver for HP Laserjet 1010 on the network.
    To lacate on manually, click OK. Otherwise, click Cancel and
    consult your network administrator or the printer manufacturer’s website.

    Tolong blz pesan ini ke email saya

    Regard Teguh Santoso

  5. John

    two computers running Windows 7 Home Premium both wireless to a home Netgear wireless to modem and internet. HP Photosmart printer connected to comp 1 via usb. Can’t get printer 2 to print. Neither computer “sees’ the other one. Both try to set up a homegroup as if the other wasn’t there. Both on same Workgroup called “WORKGROUP”.

  6. Keith224

    I have a 32 bit Vista machine that has a HP C5580 attached. I want to use this printer from my networked 64 bit Windows 7 machine. When adding the printer to the Win 7 machine it installs just fine but cannot print to it. No Test page prints and when I go to Properties of the printer and click Test Page it Fails. I can share files, on both computers. Any help would be appreciated.

  7. elderone1

    The commentary gets close to the problem and answer, but here is my twist. Vista 64 desktop with printer, networked to Win7 (both Home Premium). Internet and shared printing works fine, as does either ethernet or wireless. Shared folders are visible to each other, but error screen is:

    ” is available but the user account that you logged on with was denied access.”

    “Windows cannot further diagnose the problem because network diagnostics does not know the username and password that is required to connect to the shared folder”

    Accounts are both with “Administrator” priviliges, tried with and without passwords. When I look at the “compmgmt.msc” page, it identifies these active network sessions as “guest”!!??

    Does this match any of your situations?

  8. Jim


    Had the same problem…try this

    the solution was to

    1 right click on the folder that cannot be accessed and choose properties


    2 on the drop down menu choose “everyone”

    3 press the add tab on the right

    4 then select co-owner in Permission level column

    5 press share button on bottom

  9. habibi

    i have some problem,,
    i can’t access other computer on LAN network, but other computer can access mine..
    everyone in this LAN use win 7,,
    this really frustating me for a month

    please answer

  10. Bev

    I’ve been having the same problem. I’ve tried the step-by-step instructions listed above, and the troubleshooting tips.

    The main computer here is Windows Vista, and this is where the accounting files are kept. We’ve set up our new computer in the same office and its running on Windows 7. Both connect to the wireless internet just fine, but I’m losing my mind trying to get them to share the accounting program. Am I missing something? Any help/suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thanks much

  11. Dan

    Hi Bev,
    Have you confirmed that each computer does at least see one another in network sharing center?
    Try disabling all firewalls for awhile and although the routers wifi protection should not interefere it might be a good idea to turn it off for awhile as well.
    It seems that most things shared by default will be based on the Public Folder structure and your accounting program will not be located in the public folder area so you might need to share specific items from top to bottom as I explain below.
    You can share specific areas required by right clicking the C: drive on say the Vista PC and share name it as C-Vista, then do the same thing for every required folder, example, users, documents, programs, etc
    This is kind of long and tedious to share each folder from the top on down but it might work.
    Try the firewall thing first though
    Good Luck

  12. T$

    I did as described…thanks for that!

    When I’m on my Vista laptop, I can see my Windows 7 files. However…

    When I’m on my Windows 7 desktop, I can’t see my Vista files.

    I think it may be a sharing thing, but I wouldn’t think so if I followed the directions above correctly…any advice? Thanks!

  13. Viv

    When I try to drop files into the shared users folder on either machine, I keep getting the message that I need permission to continue. What does this mean and how do I get around it?

  14. Julia

    i need some help!
    i have a printer installed on my vista desktop and i recently bought a laptop with windows 7.
    i want to connect the printer. but when i did all the previous settings, and go to the network on my windows 7, it doesn’t show all the computers on the same network.
    also when i go to add printer, they don’t show a printer and when i enter the name of the printer it says “windows cannot connect to a printer, Operation failed with error 0x000092f”

    please please help me

  15. jason

    I would just like to confirm the responses above. These instructions are NOT sufficient to allow you to view files on your Vista machine from your Windows 7 machine. You can see the folder, but you are not allowed to open it.

    I hope someone posts the answer someday. I’ve been beating my head against it for weeks.

  16. Matt

    I have a Vista Desktop connected to wired internet and Win7 laptop connected to same wireless internet.Vista can see Win7 computer but not vice versa. Is there an obvious thing I am not doing?

  17. C

    I set up my Windows 7 and Vista as described above. Vista is able to see the folder shared by Windows 7. But i get a access denied. I turned password off.

    Any suggestions? All i want to do is access the media files from my Windows 7 so that I can watch videos on my Vista.


  18. Melanie

    I would like to be able to connect to printer in Comp 1 from Comp 2. It has an error message saying “Cannot communicate with ”
    Comp 1 = Windows 7, 32-bit
    Comp 2 = Windows Vista, 32-bit
    Any help would be great!!

  19. Wayne

    I have seen this same issue posted several times in this thread, and pages and pages of the same complaint on Microsoft’s own support forum. Basically, “How do you have a stable and usable file and print share environment between the new Windows 7, and existing XP and Vista systems on your home network.”. I have seen and tried every suggestion I have found, to no avail. This apparently is not some rare situation, but a common issue that has no real solution. Microsoft has taken a step backwards with their networking simplicity.

    In my situation, I have had a 300N Airlink router for some time. I have two Vista and one XP systems hardwired to the router, and I have two XP laptops connecting via wireless WEP. Everything has been working great for internet, as well as file and print sharing. My three printers are on one of the wired XP systems. So now I add a new wireless Windows 7 laprtop and the headaches begin. It can access the internet fine, but file sharing is bazzar. My two wireless XP systems can see and work ALL systems, including the new wireless Windows 7 laptop. The new system does not “see” anything except itself, most of the time. “Sometimes” the other systems show up under Network, but will not open them. It can open and access the two wireless XP systems if I open them using \\node-name or \\ip-address. It cannot open anything on the hard wired side of the router except the internet modem connection. All of the hard wired systems can access everything, except the Windows 7 system (not even Ping). Very strange and so far no one has a solution.

  20. Charles Bismack

    Just finished following your directions to print from my wife’s laptop with Vista to my desktop with Windows 7 on a HP Officejet 4500 with great results. This after I recognized that my computer came up on her’s as ChucksPC rather than MYSTICGEEK-PC. What else can I say, but THANKS!
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Ryan

    This was an excellent step by step layout. Thank you very much for sharing! The best one I found on the web!

  22. jo

    this suks, i cant understand anything

  23. win7

    i have the same problem with 1 laptop win 7 and 1 pc win 7. i managed to acces eachother, i can see the files that i have shared but i cannot open them no matter what i do. i used permission and everything was discussed here so far but the only i could transfer files from one to another was by dropping files into User folder and it worked. i can see and transfer files from another win XP pc w/o a problem.

  24. kim

    if you can see windows 7 files from vista, but not vista files from windows 7, i think it is because of the stupid User Account Control (UAC) feature that only vista has. if i move a video on my vista pc from my own user account and drop it into “users/public/video” instead, i can access it from the new windows 7 laptop no problem. until i find out a way around it, i guess i have to move all the vista stuff i want to share to a the vista/user/public folders. (i have never stored anything in the vista public folders before today!) then i tried moving some songs to users/pubic/music, same positive results. kind of a pain but at least it works!!!!

  25. elderone1

    I just re-discovered my post of April 12, 2010 and find that this common problem has still not been resolved, no matter how many forums I research. I still have a Vista desktop and a Win7 laptop on wireless, with two printers accessible by each computer, and an ethernet media centre in another room that can view music,photos etc from either machine (if laptop is running). I can share some folders and files from each machine. I still cannot distinguish any difference in the settings for folders I can access from those where access is denied. I just finished another afternoon with the laptop beside the desktop, using our one workgroup name, signed on to both with same (administrative) user and password. I have re-set or verified folder & file “ownership” to be identical. Permissions are “everyone (on the list)”. Without exception access is denied to “partitions”. Some folders are accessible under every partition, even though the partitions are listed as “access denied”. Folders created years ago on XP appear universally accessible. I cannot remember which of the many newer folders were created or moved on which machine. There is a futility caused trying to make identical set-ups on the two systems because Microsoft has changed definitions. Additional problems are created if I move or rename elements, for then when I take steps to restore sharing, I can’t distinguish the restoration from an “A-Ha” moment of discovering an ultimate cure. I’ll keep following this thread to see if anyone has new ideas!

  26. KJack

    I have a Laptop (Vista) and a new desktop (Win7). My printer (Canon PIXMA iP4500) is attached to the desktop. Both my computers can see each other, but when I try to intstall a new printer on my laptop, my laptop cannot find the printer. I can manually select the printer because the computers can see each other. However, I get an error message, “The server for the ‘Canon Injet iP4500 series printer does not have the correct printer driver installed.” I tried updating the printer driver but that did not help. Can anybody help?

  27. ESoka

    when i try to connect to the network it says “\\User-PC is not accessible. You might not have permission to use this network resource. Contact the administrator of this server to find out if you have access permissions.

    Logon failure: the user has not been granted the requested logon type at this computer”

    Can anybody kelp?

  28. ESoka

    seems I fixed my own problem haha disregard this

  29. Jr

    what password do you use is the password to login when you computer first logs on

  30. thoolika

    The base computer of my network that is directly connected to the internet and my router is a win2003 server version machine. My computer is connected through the network to access the internet and the printer connected to the base computer. My computer running Windows 7home premium and the networking worked fine.

    I have installed Windows 7home premium on my computer, and now I cannot connect to the printer on the 2003 server machine. I can access the internet (although it is substantially slower than when I had vista) and the shared files on the base computer, but I cannot setup the printer. The printer is a Brother MFC-240c
    If anyone can help it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank You

  31. trenzy

    For the people with the share folders problems. The following steps are good for no password protection enabled for both Win7 and Vista.

    Here is what you have to do: In order to share a folder or multiple folders, you must change them all to “shared” under folder’s properties. Right click on a folder to share, select properties, then click on the sharing tab. Under the sharing tab, click on share, then click on everyone or homegroup in drop down box when you see ” Chose people to share with”.

    Examle: I want to share all my backup files in my secondary hard drive from my Vista machne. I drag all the files by edit, selec all, copy and paste to only one folder for the entire drive. Right click on the folder, select properties, seclect share, select everyone or homegroup, finalized by clicking on “share”. You have to do this same procedure if you want to share another folder from your C drive, D drive, etc.

    Just because you see another computer icon in your network, it doesn’t mean that everything is accessable. You have to tell the machines what you want to share.

    Finally, one word on sharing printers. Older printers might not work with Win7, especially 64bit versions. A better solution is to get a printer with networking capabilities.

  32. Lukas

    i did everything like described but still can’t share files. both vista and win7 machines see each others ‘users’ files but when you click on them the folders are empty. also vista doesn’t ask for win7 password..

  33. trenzy

    Hello Lukas,

    As I was saying before, you have to change one or all of the folders’ properties in order to share. The “user” folder is the default folder in the users settings. This folder is only useful if you drag the files to it, otherwise the rest of the folders will not be shared.

    For example, I have another folder “download” in My Document folder that I want to share. I have to right click on the “download” folder, click on sharing, select share with everyone, click share to close it.

    If you’re still having problems, try the security tab next to the sharing tab, Edit the permissions, and allow full control to everyone in your network. Experiment with it a little. If it works for me, then it should work for you.

  34. trenzy

    Hello Lukas,

    Be sure you click “add” everyone in the drop down box under sharing tab. Do the same for every folder for both of your computers in your system that you want to share.

  35. George

    Worked awesome. Thanks.

  36. Neil

    Followed all your directions and have managed to get theWindows XP PC to print to the windows 7 PC. But can not get the vista PC to print to the printer on the windows 7 PC.
    Any suggestions?

  37. johnnweiss

    Thanks for this well written explanation – and it worked.

  38. barua123

    i am using EVO a usb modem i have two computers at home so both of those computers need internet connection at the same time. i need help in sharing the usb internet connection between two computers
    both are laptops one of them is running windows vista the other is running windows 7

  39. barua123

    i am using EVO a usb modem i have two computers at home so both of those computers need internet connection at the same time. i need help in sharing the usb internet connection between two computers
    both are laptops one of them is running windows vista the other is running windows 7.

    any suggestion how can i process step by step……

  40. peter


    I have been trying to network between my ooffice PC and my Laptop for ages now, and still I can’t get it to work – even after reading this article!!! I would appreciate some help.

    My laptop is a Sony Vaio and it is running Windows 7 Ultimate. My PC is running Vista SP2.

    I can see each computer, and I can open the ‘Public’ folders on each machine from the other respective machine, but I cannot open other files despite them being shared, and clearly showing that they are shared.

    So my PC has a large local disk, drive F, which is visible from my laptop, and according to all the settings on my PC it can be shared, but alas I can’t. I continually get a message about contacting my network administrator. I need to share to F so I can back up my laptop, etc…..

    So why doesn’t it work??????

    Any help would be appreciated.


  41. Dee

    The printer are conected to the windows 7 computer via usb and I have windows vista connected via wireless. My question is if this tutorial is How to share printer from windows 7 to vista?

  42. Vincent Ridings

    Hello i would just like to tell whoever made this you helped me so much ( as in 31 hours of downloading) me and my brother have been trying forever his vista my windows 7 to share World of Warcraft and this made my day all day long Literally lol thank you again have a good day because i know i will.

  43. Lokesh

    Hi … dis is very helpfull to me thank u so much !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. TomJ

    Thanks to whomever wrote this insightful article. I followed all of the instructions to a tee, but I still have a problem with printing especially with other non-admin users who depend on having continued access to my printer attached to my Win 7 Prof 32/64Bit computer.

    It appears that after ‘Adding a printer’ to my non-admin users login, I can print a successful test page, and as long as I don’t restart OR logoff of the non-admin users’ account, I could get a bunch of printing done. It is only when I either shutdown, OR reboot my Vista Home Premimum SP1 laptop do I run into the problem along with the following msg: “Windows cannot print due to a problem with the current printer!?”

  45. kaush

    I have a Vista Desktop connected to wired internet Win7 laptop connected to same wireless internet.Vista can see Win7 computer but Win7 cant access the vista comp. it keeps coming up with this error message saying it cant detect vista comp. what do I DOOOOOO??? hellllllllllllllllllllppppppppppppppppppppppp! please!

  46. Steve

    Thanks for this excellent guide. I finally got this working. Microsoft UI 0 you 1.

  47. Fred

    For everyone with printer sharing problems it’s real simple. Just goto the link below and follow the directions, the only thing to be sure of is that if you have a 64bit system whether it be win7 or vista download the vista 64bit vista driver.. If your system is a 32bit download the 32bit vista driver. I have win xp 32bit pc hardwired to the printer and both win7 and vista 64bit machines sharing the same printer with no problems.. Apparantely all drivers should be vista in order for it to work flawlessly. Also I went through Dell since my printer is a Dell so you may want to unistall and install the printer drivers through your printers download webpage.

    Hope this helps.

  48. suresh

    yes i tried this and i works. thank u….

  49. Val

    Have you guys verified that none of the computers have their connection defined as public? Changed to home/work under customize and it works now

  50. John

    Only need to share a Printer with others, not all my private documents.

  51. oldsystembuilder

    I have 3 windows 7 home prem. computer and no matter whether i set the pasword to off on on on my newest windows 7 computer the other 2 computers are ask for a user ID and Password. All have the same workgroup in them need help with this.

  52. Dave

    Great Stuff! Much more helpful than anything else on the internet!


  53. Chuck

    I can look at my laptop from my windows 7 desktop, but I still cannot look at my windows 7 desktop from my Vista laptop nor can I share the printer on my Windows 7 Professional desktop after following your instructioins about sharing and files. I keep getting a login screen that no matter what I put in still tells me it is the wrong user name and password. I need help quickly. I am loosing work because of this issue. If you can my phone number is 775 737 1878 or I have Team Viewer available. can you please help quickly!!!!

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