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How to Connect Your Surface to Networked PCs

Your Surface’s hard drive may always seem too small, at least by desktop PC standards. Because you probably can’t fit all of your information onto your Surface, keep an eye out for other places to stash files, storing a few videos in one spot and a few music files someplace else.

One of the easiest places to stash your files might be on your home or office network. To browse the files on those huge-hard-drive-stuffed PCs, you first need to connect to their wireless network.

To connect to PCs on a home or office network, follow the steps to the wireless network. But, make sure to tap the button labeled Yes, Turn On Sharing and Connect to Devices.

But what if you forgot to tap that Sharing and Connect button?

You can turn it on by following these steps. These steps also let you connect to a homegroup — a simple way for Surface tablets, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 computers to share files.

  1. Summon the Charms bar by sliding your finger in from your Surface’s right edge and then tap the Settings icon.

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  2. Tap the Change PC Settings link at the bottom of the Settings pane.

  3. When the PC Settings screen appears, tap the word Network in the left column and then tap your network’s name.

    The Network screen appears, listing your network connections. Tap your connected network’s name, probably the only one listed in the Wi-Fi category. The settings for that network appear.

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  4. Tap the On toggle in the Find Devices and Content section.

    That screen offers other technical tidbits about your connection, including your network’s SSID, protocol, type of security, and IP address. It also lists the type of network adapter you’re using and its driver version, which is handy for troubleshooting.

  5. Tap the Start screen’s Desktop app and then tap the File Explorer icon.

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    You can find the icon for File Explorer (shown in the margin) near the left end of the taskbar — the strip along the bottom of the desktop.

  6. When File Explorer appears, tap the word Homegroup in the Navigation pane that clings to every folder’s left edge.

    The Homegroup window appears.

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  7. Tap the Join Now button and follow the steps to enter the homegroup’s password.

Don’t know the homegroup’s password? To find it, visit any computer on your network’s homegroup, open any folder, and right-click the word Homegroup from the Navigation pane. When the pop-up menu appears, choose View the Homegroup Password. That’s the password you need to enter into your Surface. Type the password, and you’ve connected to the homegroup.

  • In Step 7 in the preceding list, tapping Next at each window lets you connect to the homegroup and access the contents of the Pictures, Videos, and Music libraries on other computers in the homegroup.

  • Although the Surface RT and Surface 2 can connect to an existing homegroup and access files from those computers, they can’t create a new homegroup, nor will they let other homegroup computers access their own files.

  • Unlike the Surface RT and Surface 2, the Surface Pro and Pro 2 tablets can share the contents of their pictures, videos, and music libraries. Unless the settings are changed, the Documents folder on all homegroup computers remains private and not shared.

  • Joining a homegroup also lets you connect with many networked devices (usually, printers).

  • Store things you want to share from your desktop PC in your libraries: Music, Pictures, and Videos. That makes them available to your Surface, as well as any Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 PCs on the network’s homegroup.

  • Although Windows Vista and Windows XP PCs can’t join homegroups, you can access their files from your Surface in another way. Tap the word Network at the bottom of any folder’s Navigation pane. The Network window appears, listing every networked PC. Tap any PCs name to open it and browse its shared files.

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