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How to Access What Others Have Shared in Windows 8

On your your Windows 8 PC and network, you can see the shared libraries of other people by clicking the Start screen’s Desktop tile. When on the desktop, click the File Explorer icon from the taskbar.

Click the word Homegroup, found in the Navigation Pane of every folder. The right side of the window promptly lists the names and icons of every account holder who has chosen to share files.

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You may also spot names of account holders on networked Windows PCs — PCs connected to your own PC either wirelessly or with cables — who’ve chosen to share their libraries.

To browse the libraries shared by another person within the Homegroup, double-click that person’s name from the Homegroup window. The window promptly displays that person’s shared libraries ready to be browsed as if they were your own.

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You can do more than browse those libraries, as described here:

  • Opening: To open a file on a shared library, double-click its icon, just as you would any other file. The appropriate program opens it. If you see an error message, the sharing person created the file using a program you don’t own. Buy or download the program from the Internet or ask the person to save the file in a format that one of your programs can open.

  • Copying: To copy a file from one person’s Homegroup, drag it into your own library: Point at the file you want and, while holding down the mouse button, point at your own library. Let go of the mouse button, and Windows copies the file into your library. Alternatively, select the file and press Ctrl+C to copy it; then go into the folder where you want to put the copied file and press Ctrl+V to paste it.

  • Deleting or changing: You can delete or change some, but not all, of the items in another person’s Homegroup.

Homegroups work only with Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs, unfortunately. Holdouts still clinging to Windows Vista or Windows XP can still share files and folders through a network by copying them into their Public or Shared Documents folders.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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