How to Connect Your Laptop to a Peer-to-Peer Workgroup

9 of 14 in Series: The Essentials of Networking with Your Laptop with Windows Vista

For small networking operations, you can connect your laptop to a peer-to-peer network. This includes everything from a home office that has only one other computer to a smaller company that doesn't need a large network setup. In that case, it helps to add your laptop to a specific workgroup. This stuff is cinchy.

The key to joining a specific workgroup is to supply your laptop with the workgroup's name. That way, your laptop appears on a list with other computers in the workgroup, and it makes workgroup resources (printers and hard drives) easier to locate.

The secret? Nope, don't bother looking in any of the networking icons in the Control Panel. For this task, you need to use the Control Panel's System icon, like so:

  1. Choose Control Panel from the Start menu, and then select System.

  2. In Windows Vista, click the Change settings link in the Computer Name, Domain and Workgroup Settings area. In Windows XP, click the Computer Name tab.

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    If you're asked for permission here, click the Continue button.

  3. Click the Change button.

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  4. In the Workgroup text box, type the name of the computer workgroup.

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    Unless you messed with things, the name is WORKGROUP, and that's okay. If you chose something else for your local workgroup, put that name into the box.

  5. Click OK to close the various dialog boxes, and close up any windows you opened as well.

    At this point, you may have to restart your laptop for the changes to take effect. Do so when prompted.

Your laptop is now a part of the named workgroup and can more easily access other computers and system resources attached to that workgroup.

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The Essentials of Networking with Your Laptop with Windows Vista

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