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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.

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

  2. Tap your wireless network icon.

  3. When the Network pane appears, listing your connected wireless network, hold your finger on the network’s name. When a circle appears, lift your finger.

    Holding down your finger on an item until a menu appears is the equivalent of right-clicking with a mouse. In this case, the right-click menu appears.

  4. Tap Turn Sharing On or Off.


    The permission screen presents itself again.

  5. Tap the button Yes, Turn on Sharing and Connect to Devices.

    Now that you’ve turned on sharing, join your network’s homegroup, if you have one.

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

    You’ll find the icon for File Explorer near the left end of the taskbar—the strip along the bottom of the desktop.

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

    The Homegroup window appears.

  8. 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 the 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.

  • In step 8, clicking Next at each window lets you connect to the homegroup and begin accessing the contents of the Pictures, Videos, and Music libraries on other computers in the homegroup.

  • Although the Surface with Windows RT can connect to an existing homegroup and access files from those computers, it can’t create a new homegroup, nor will it let other homegroup computers access its own files. (The Surface with Windows 8 Pro doesn’t have this restriction.) Tablets with Windows RT may not be able to print to some of the network’s shared printers.

  • Joining a homegroup also lets you connect with many networked devices (usually, printers). The Windows 8 Pro tablets can share the contents of their pictures, videos, and music libraries. The Documents folder on all homegroups remains private and not shared.

  • 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 and Windows 8 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 from Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro tablets. Tap the word Network at the bottom of any folder’s Navigation pane. The Network window appears, listing every networked PC. Tap any PC’s name to open it and browse its shared files.

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