How to Browse for a Network in Windows 8.1

The difference between a homegroup and a network in Windows 8.1 is subtle. A homegroup is specific kind of network and may be easier to create than a network. A network has more options and can give you finer control over access to sharing. Take the easy route: Use an existing homegroup or network or create a homegroup.

To browse for a network available on your Windows 8.1 machine, follow these steps:

  1. On the Start screen, type network. On the search results screen, select the Network app. The Network window opens on the desktop.

    To search using a touchscreen, swipe from the right edge to display the charms bar. Select the Search charm. Then select in the search box to display the virtual keyboard.

  2. In the Network window, you may see icons for other computers on your network, as well as your own.

    Your screen may show only two or three computers. Select one of the other computers. Shared resources will appear in the window. (You may be asked for a user name and password, obtainable from the user of that computer.)

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  3. If you see the message Network discovery and file sharing are turned off. Network computers and devices are not visible. Click to change… just below the ribbon, select that message.

    Then select Turn On Network Discovery and File Sharing on the pop-up menu. This option enables your computer to find other computers and to be found by others.

    If you’re on a public network, don’t turn on network discovery.

  4. Select the Network tab, and then select Network and Sharing Center.

    If Access type indicates No network access, select Troubleshoot Problems. On the Troubleshoot Problems screen, select Internet Connections. On the next screen, select Troubleshoot My Connection to the Internet. This troubleshooter runs through a series of diagnostics to resolve the problem. After a few minutes, the screen will display Troubleshooting has completed. You may then see Problems found, as well as an indication of whether those problems have been fixed.

    At this point, if you still have a problem accessing the network or resources on the network, restart your computer.

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