The objective for this lesson is to explain in detail what the “Sharing Wizard” in Windows is, how it works, and how to use it in network sharing.
You will first learn how to tell whether the “Sharing Wizard” is enabled, and how to turn it on if it is off on your Windows PC or device. Obviously, you will also learn how to disable it if you do not wish to use it.
Then, you will learn the options that are provided by Windows for quick network sharing, so that you don’t have to go through an actual wizard with many steps.
Next, you will use the “Sharing Wizard” to share resources and assign detailed permissions to different user accounts and user groups. You will also learn how to set a shared resource so that it is easily accessible from computers with operating systems other than Windows.
At the end of this lesson you will learn how to stop sharing a folder or library with the whole network or only with a specific user account or group.
How to Enable or Disable the Sharing Wizard
The Sharing Wizard is enabled by default in Windows. To double-check that it is enabled, open “File Explorer” in Windows 8.x or “Windows Explorer” in Windows 7.
In Windows 8.x, expand the “View” tab on the ribbon and click or tap the “Options” button on the far right.
This opens the “Folder Options” window where you can enable or disable the Sharing Wizard.
In Windows 7, click the “Organize” button on the Explorer toolbar and then “Folder and search options”.
In the “Folder Options” window, go to the “View” tab. In the “Advanced Settings” section you will find lots of configuration options for Windows/File Explorer.
Scroll to the bottom of the list and you will find an option that says “Use Sharing Wizard (Recommended)”. To enable the “Sharing Wizard”, check this option and click or tap “OK”. Then, close the “Folder Options” window.
If you would like to disable the “Sharing Wizard” and use advanced sharing instead, uncheck “Use Sharing Wizard (Recommended)” and click or tap “OK”. Then, close the “Folder Options” window.
To learn more about advanced sharing and how to use it, read lesson 7.
How to Quickly Share Libraries or Folders in Windows
Enabling the sharing wizard doesn’t mean that you will always share things using a wizard in the true sense of the word but that you will have access to quick sharing tools. The fastest way that works in both Windows 7 and Windows 8.x is to right click on the library or folder that you want to share. In the right-click menu, click “Share with” and then a menu expands, displaying several options for sharing.
Here, Windows 8.x operating systems provide lots of sharing options:
- Stop sharing – stops sharing the selected item.
- Homegroup (view) – shares the item with others in the Homegroup, giving them read-only permissions.
- Homegroup (view & edit) – shares the item with others in the Homegroup, giving them read and write permissions.
- User accounts existing on your computer – shares the selected item with the select user account that exists on your computer. That user account is given read-only permissions.
- Specific people – starts the Sharing Wizard, as you will see in the next section of this lesson.
In Windows 7, the list of “Share with” options is smaller and it includes the following options:
- Nobody – the equivalent of not sharing the selected item.
- Homegroup (Read) – shares the item with others in the Homegroup, giving them read-only permissions.
- Homegroup (Read/Write) – shares the item with others in the Homegroup, giving them read and write permissions.
- Specific people – starts the Sharing Wizard which will be explained in detail in the next section.
If you need a refresher on permissions, go back to Lesson 1 to learn more.
The same sharing options are displayed also on the ribbon of File Explorer, in Windows 8.x. Select the item that you want to share and expand the Share tab on the ribbon. In the “Share with” section you will see the sharing options that are available when you right click that item.
Press the small arrow pointing downwards, to expand the list.
Now you will see all the available sharing options.
Windows 7 also provides another method for accessing sharing options. In Windows Explorer, select the folder or library that you want to share. Then, click “Share with” in the top toolbar.
You will then see a menu with all the available sharing options.
How to Share Libraries or Folders with the Sharing Wizard
The “Share with” options shared earlier are useful in most network sharing scenarios. However, you may want to set also the permission levels for the user accounts you are sharing with and give them read-write permissions, not just read-only. If you want to have control over the permissions you assign when sharing, then it is a good idea to use the “Sharing Wizard”.
First of all, pick a library or a folder that you want to share with others on the network. Right-click on it and select “Share with > Specific people”.
The “File Sharing” wizard starts. At first, you will see the user that is set as the owner for that resource and the user accounts or groups with whom it is already shared. If you have not shared this resource with anybody, then you will only see the owner being listed.
To share the resource, click or tap the drop-down list near the “Add” button. You will see a list with all the user accounts that exist on your Windows device, an entry for the Homegroup and an entry named “Everyone”.
If you select a user account and then click or tap “Add”, the resource will be shared with that user account. If you select “Homegroup” then, obviously, the resource will be shared with others in the Homegroup.
When you select “Everyone” this means that you want to share the resource with anyone with or without a user account on the computer that is sharing.
Select whom you want to share the resource you selected and click or tap “Add”.
A new entry is added in the list of users and groups having access to this shared resource. By default, you are giving others read-only permissions to what you are sharing.
To change the permission-level assigned, click or tap the arrow near Read, in the “Permission Level” column. You can change the permission-level to “Read/Write” or you can select “Remove” and remove the user account or user group from the list of people with whom you share the resource.
You can continue adding others to the list of people you share the resource with, using the same procedure. When done adding user accounts or user groups, click or tap “Share”.
Windows takes a while to share the resource you have selected. When done, you are informed. Click or tap “Done” to close the “File Sharing” wizard.
Note, this last step won’t be displayed at all times. For example, in our testing we didn’t see it when sharing libraries but we did see it when sharing most folders. It is unclear why this last step is not shown at all times and we haven’t found any Microsoft documentation that explains why this happens.
Share with Non-Microsoft Operating Systems
The steps required for sharing with other computers that do not have Windows are the same as shown above. The only thing that we advise you to do differently, is to select the “Everyone” entry. This will ensure that it is easier for other operating systems to access the resources you are sharing with the network.
It’s as simple as that. If all operating systems use the same Workgroup (see Lesson 2 for a refresher), you have correctly set the sharing settings in Windows (see Lesson 3 for a refresher) and you have shared folders or libraries using the “Everyone” user group, then the Linux PCs or the Macs on your home network should be able to access what you are sharing from your Windows computers.
How to Stop Sharing a Folder or a Library
If you want to stop sharing a folder or a library with the network, then right-click on it. In Windows 8.x, in the “Share with” menu, select “Stop sharing”.
The selected resource is no longer shared.
You also have the “Stop Sharing” option in the ribbon. In File Explorer, select the resource that you no longer wish to share and expand the “Share” tab. In the “Share with” section you will find the “Stop Sharing” button, then click or tap on it.
In Windows 7, in the “Share with” menu, select “Nobody” and the selected resource is no longer shared with the network.
Another way is to select the resource you no longer wish to share and in Windows Explorer, click the “Share with” item on the top toolbar, then click “Nobody”.
When you stop sharing a resource, this is the equivalent of manually removing all the user groups and user accounts you have shared the resource with. If you then open the “Sharing Wizard” for that resource, you will see only the owner listed as having access to it.
What if You Want to Stop Sharing Only with A Specific User or Group?
If you follow the instructions shared in the previous section, you stop sharing the selected folder or library with everyone on the network. But, you may want to stop sharing a resource only with the Homegroup or with a specific user account.
To do that, use the “File Sharing” wizard as shown earlier. At the step when you add user accounts or user groups to share with and set their permissions, select the user or the group you want to remove. Then, click or tap the assigned permission level and select “Remove”. This removes it from the list of people the resource is shared with.
To finish, click or tap “Share” and wait for Windows to share it only with the remaining users and groups. If you receive a confirmation of the changes that were performed, click or tap “Done” to close the wizard.
What About Sharing Printers or Other Devices?
Unfortunately, the “Sharing Wizard” cannot be used to share devices like external hard drives or printers that are attached to your Windows computer. For example, if you right-click on an external hard drive that you want to share with the network, in the “Share with” menu you will see only “Advanced sharing” as an option.
That is because devices cannot be shared using the “Sharing Wizard”. Some devices like external hard drives or your PC’s Blu-Ray or DVD drive can be shared only through Advanced Sharing. This will be covered in the next lesson.
Other devices like printers are shared differently without using the “Sharing Wizard” or “Advanced Sharing”.
We know this is confusing and that’s why we have created this series – to help you understand all the different ways of sharing resources in Windows!
Coming up Next …
In the next lesson we will work in detail with advanced sharing, so that you learn how to use it for sharing folders with others and gain more control on how they are shared.
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