How to Find Other Computers on a Network
11 of 14 in Series: The Essentials of Networking with Your Laptop with Windows Vista
After you’ve connected your laptop to a network and the software connections are made, the next thing to do is browse to find out which other computers are connected to the network. You can view not only which computers share the same network, but also which resources those other computers offer up for your pleasure: They can share folders on disk drives, printers, and even modems. The only way to find out what's available is to look.
When you don't see any computers in the workgroup window, you have a problem. Either the network cable isn't connected, or it's bad. The network interface is bad. Or, the computers don’t share the same workgroup name.
Seeing workgroup computers in Windows Vista
Choosing the Network item from the Windows Vista Start menu displays a list of networking devices available to your computer, such as what's shown below. Each icon represents another computer elsewhere on the network, specifically in your network's workgroup.
To see which resources each computer offers, click to open its icon. If that computer is sharing a folder from one of its disk drives or a printer, you see the appropriate icon listed in the window.
My Networking Places in Windows XP
To view other computers on the network in Windows XP, open the My Network Places icon, either on the desktop or from the Start menu.
The above figure shows a cozy, two-computer network that was created by simply attaching an Ethernet cable between a desktop computer and a laptop. (Directly means no hub or switch.) Both computers show up as icons, labeled with their computer names. The Workgroup name, Cat, appears on the Address bar and atop the window.
Power that comes from an electrical outlet in the wall or power strip.
A circuitry board that, when added to a computer internally, increases that computer’s capabilities; also called an expansion card.
An account for the manager of a computer or network. An Administrator account offers significantly more privileges in managing the PC compared to a Standard account.
Accelerated Graphics Port; a type of computer video expansion.
A type of inkjet printer that can also act as a scanner, fax machine, and copier.
A kind of software used for productivity or to create things (the software that does the work).
A wireless hub, which connects a computer network.
A type of wireless network standard used for short distances with devices such as cell phones and laptops.
Any high-speed Internet connection, whether provided through cable, DSL, or satellite.
The range of radio waves over which wireless devices communicate.
A means of accessing the Internet that runs through your cable TV coaxial connection.
A key on a keyboard that, when pressed to make active, causes letters to appear capitalized on the monitor’s display when you press the corresponding letter key on the keyboard.
A video upgrade card that can capture incoming analog video signal and convert it to digital video.
The container that stores ink or toner for use in a printer.
A Category 5 networking cable used to connect a computer to a network hub.
Compact disc; a removable storage medium that can hold data, text, and graphics.
A type of drive that you can attach to your computer in order to copy data from your PC to a recordable CD or DVD.
The metal frame on which your computer’s internal components and circuits are mounted.
An integrated computer circuit containing many elements connected on a single unit.
A group of chips that work together to perform a specific task or function. For example, a motherboard on a computer contains chips for the BIOS, CPU, memory, expansion slots, and other components; this collection of chips is the motherboard’s chipset.
An electrical device that provides a path for electrical current to flow.
A legacy port found on the console’s I/O panel.
The main computer box, although it may also be called the system unit or the CPU (which is incorrect). It’s a box that contains your computer’s soul, its electronic guts. On the outside, the console sports various buttons, lights, and holes into which you plug the rest of the computer system.
The circuits that control data transfer to and from a disk drive (floppy disk, hard disk, or optical disc).
A charged wire in a laser printer that draws the toner off the drum onto the paper.
Central processing unit; A computer component, often called a processor and microprocessor, whose speed determines how fast your PC operates.
Cathode ray tube; an older type of computer monitor that offers better color quality than an LCD monitor.
The blinking icon on the computer screen that shows you where the characters you type appear; also called an insertion pointer.
Digital audiotape; A type of computer backup drive that copies data to a tape.
Power that comes from the battery that powers a laptop.
Double data rate; A computer DIMM memory module that’s still in general use.
Memory modules that double the data transfer rate between your RAM and your motherboard.
A normal computer setup; A type of computer made up of a PC console, monitor, mouse, keyboard, and any additional attachments. A desktop PC isn’t easily portable.
A kind of computer Internet connection that uses existing phone lines.
A means of storing, transmitting, manipulating, or reproducing data, images and sounds by using groups of electronic bits represented by 1 and 0.
Dual Inline Memory Module; A standard type of computer memory module.
Dual in-line memory module slot, a small circuit board that holds memory chips.
A driver used by games, graphics, and audio programs in Windows.
A component of a computer that reads information from and writes information to a certain kind of disk.
The information that appears on your computer screen.
A contraption used to hold a PC’s internal disk drives, an optical (DVD) drive, and a hard drive.
A special type of program that allows specific computer hardware to work.
Digital Subscriber Line; a type of Internet connection that takes advantage of unused frequencies in existing phone lines.
A CPU made up of two independent processors combined onto a single integrated circuit.
Digital video; used to describe camcorders that record video digitally.
Digital video disc; a removable computer storage medium that has a larger capacity than a CD.
A disk drive in or attached to your computer that can read information from DVDs and CDs.
A type of printer that transfers heated solid due from a ribbon to specially coated paper, producing continuous tones, like those in a photo produced from a negative.
A protocol for assigning dynamic IP addresses to devices on a network.
Extended Data Output; an older type of computer memory module that’s used on only old Pentium motherboards.
Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics; a type of hard drive.
Adapting work or working conditions to suit the worker.
The standards and protocols used by Windows for networking.
A circuitry board that you can add to a computer internally to expand that computer’s capabilities.
A slot on a computer’s motherboard available for adding expansion cards, which add new components to the PC.
Another name for a peripheral.
External devices such as peripheral hard drives, DVD drives, flash drives, or memory card readers.
A component of a printer in which you place paper that you want the printer to take and print on; also called a paper feed.
A technology that sends data as light at high speeds and in large amounts.
A binary (not physical) container that holds a chunk of information stored in a computer.
A software or hardware device designed to block unauthorized intruders from gaining entry to an individual computer or a network.
A type of computer connection that you can use to attach various devices to your PC; most often used to connection DV camcorders.
Same as IEEE 1394 port.
A keychain-size storage unit that saves files on memory cards; you can plug it into your computer and access it like any other external hard drive.
A special type of computer memory that works like both RAM and ROM; information can be written to flash memory, but that information isn’t erased when the power is off.
When a game controller rumbles or provides resistance to your hand that matches the action on-screen.
Front Side Bus; the primary pathway between a computer’s CPU and memory.
A device that you attach to your computer that allows you to input movement and actions when playing a computer game.
A game controller that features a flat surface and many buttons.
Graphics processing unit; the chipset used on your PC’s video card.
The circuitry that runs the computer monitor and controls the image that the monitor’s screen displays.
A computer’s monitor and graphics adapter.
A disk drive on your PC that can store the greatest amount of information and access it in the quickest manner; therefore, it’s the main source of permanent storage.
The physical part of a computer — anything you can touch and see, such as the computer console, monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
The I/O jack where you plug in your headphones or external speakers.
Headphones that include a built-in microphone for online communications and game playing.
A computer function by which it saves all the computer’s memory (everything the system is doing), then turns the computer off.
A common connection point for devices in a network.
A feature of certain Pentium processors that makes one physical CPU appear as two logical CPUs, overlapping two instruction streams in order to achieve a gain in performance.
Also called FireWire; a type of connection that you can use to attach various devices to your computer, similar to USB.
A type of computer printer that uses an ink ribbon and some device to physically bang the ribbon on the paper.
A type of computer printer that lobs tiny balls of ink directly on the paper to create a printout.
Information sent to and received by your computer.
The blinking icon that appears on your computer screen at the location where characters you type appear; also called a cursor.
Input/Output; the two kinds of activity that a computer engages in — it accepts input from outside devices and gives you output information in a variety of forms.
An identifier for a computer or device on a TCP/IP network.
An infrared computer port that can be used to communicate with devices such as PDAs and other laptops.
Industry Standard Architecture; the oldest type of computer expansion slot, used now mainly for compatibility with older expansion cards.
The device you type on; it’s the primary way you communicate with the computer, with input.
A specialized, small printer that can create all kinds of labels on label tape.
A portable computer.
A type of computer printer that uses a laser beam to create the image, giving a crisp and fast output.
Liquid crystal diode; A type of computer monitor, also called a flat-panel monitor, that’s thin and uses relatively little electricity.
Light Emitting Diode; a display and lighting technology used in almost every electronic product.
A specific port on older PCs to which you would connect a keyboard, mouse, or printer. These ports have been gradually phased out on PCs and replaced by the versatile USB port.
The I/O panel jack where you plug a traditional audio-producing device (stereo, VCR, and so on) into the PC for capturing sound.
A computer network that spans a relatively small area. Most LANs are confined to a single building or group of buildings.
To identify yourself on a computer by entering a user name and password.
To tell Windows that you’re done using the computer without actually turning off the computer; you must log in to use it again.
To identify yourself on a computer by entering a user name and password.
To tell Windows that you’re done using the computer without actually turning off the computer; you must log in to use it again.
A storage device that’s essentially the same thing as flash memory, although media cards are designed for use with various gizmos, such as digital cameras and MP3 players.
Temporary computer information storage which is emptied when you turn off the computer; also called RAM. The term "memory" also refers to the physical chips capable of holding data.
The most recent form of permanent computer storage technology. The general term applies to all the different types of solid-state storage devices. Six main types of memory cards are available.
A narrow printed circuit board that holds memory chips.
The I/O jack in which your computer’s microphone plugs into.
Your computer’s main hardware chip that determines the speed at which your computer can work; also called the processor and CPU.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface; rather than digital audio, a MIDI file gives the computer directions on how to play a song — kind of like how a program is a set of directions that tells your computer how to accomplish a task.
This special version of the IEEE 1394 connector is designed specifically for digital video and for connecting digital cameras.
A standard computer connector used to connect a microphone to your PC.
The most popular PC configuration, where the desktop computer sits upright on a desktop or tucked away below the desk.
Modem is a contraction of modulator-demodulator. A device that converts digital data from a computer into analog data for transmission over telephone lines by modulating it into waves. At the other end, a modem converts the analog data back into digital form by demodulating it. Cable modems also convert data but that information may stay in digital form.
Where you connect your PC’s dialup modem to the phone jack in the wall. If two phone or modem holes are on the I/O panel, the second one is for a telephone extension.
A key on a keyboard that works in combination with other keys to do various tasks.
Being made up of a number of individual pieces that can each be replaced without having to change the whole.
The box and hardware that make up the part of your computer that displays information, it's output.
The main circuit board of a microcomputer, which contains essential PC components, such as the processor and memory.
A helpful device that lets you work with graphical objects that the computer displays on the monitor.
A device built into a laptop that emulates a standard mouse. Also called a touch pad.
A specialized sound card that contains a hardware encoder/decoder, which speeds up your PC’s ripping and MP3-playing performance.
A portable device that allows you to listen to your songs when you’re away from your PC.
A video card specifically designed for encoding and decoding Motion Picture Experts Group digital video (usually from a DVD).
A group of two or more computer systems linked together. Components of a network include a networking adapter, cables, and a hub.
Where you plug in a local-area network (LAN) connector or where you attach a broadband modem to the PC’s I/O panel.
A device that interfaces a PC with a network.
Network information card; Ethernet networking hardware that your computer requires to connect to a network.
Another name for a laptop.
New Technology File System. The standard file system used for Windows NT, 2000, XP, and Vista. NTFS is preferred to the older FAT32 system. NTFS improves system performance, reliability, and disk space use, and it also offers improved security. For example, you can set permissions for individual files as well as directories to control access by other users.
A key on a computer keyboard that, when pressed to make active, makes the numeric keypad on the right side of the keyboard produce numbers. When the Num Lock key is inactive, you can use the numeric keypad for moving the text cursor.
The keypad that allows you to type numbers when the Num Lock key is on.
Optical character recognition; a program that allows the computer to read text from a scanned item and convert it to text that you can edit.
Open Graphics Language; a 3D graphics language developed by SGI, which has become a de facto standard supported in Windows (among other) computers.
Anything that the computer produces.
A small hand-held, battery-operated computer.
The portion of a computer printer in which you store the paper that the printer eventually prints on; also called a feeder tray.
The location on a computer printer where the printer paper comes out and is stacked.
A computer connection that used to be the primary means of connecting a printer to your computer; still used with some printers and peripherals.
Frequently found on laptops, this credit-card-size card contains a hard drive that you can insert into a PC slot to grab data you want to transport.
Peripheral Component Interconnect; the most common form of internal expansion for a PC.
The next generation of PCI PC expansion that communicates with the motherboard quickly and efficiently.
Personal digital assistant; a handheld computerized device.
A type of network, often found in small and home offices, in which each workstation has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities.
A hand-held, pen-shaped scanner with which you can re-create drawings or text as image files.
A device, such as a CD-ROM drive or printer, that is not part of the console. Peripheral devices can be external — such as a mouse, keyboard, printer, monitor, or scanner — or internal, such as a CD-ROM drive, CD-R drive, or internal modem.
A computer printer specifically designed to create photographs that rival traditional 35mm prints.
A type of network cable that’s designed to withstand high temperatures, such as inside a heating duct.
A place on a computer where you can attach a device to send and/or receive information.
An adapter card that you can insert into your PC to add computer ports.
A device that provides approximately six electrical outlets into which you can plug your console and peripherals. The power strip also usually provides protection against power spikes and surges.
Where you get the computer’s printed output, also called hard copy.
The action that a computer takes on input to produce a different output.
The component of a computer that handles the processing work the computer does; also called a CPU and a microprocessor.
A type of software that may or may not be used for productivity or to produce output, such as a computer game or a video editing program.
A type of connection dedicated to the kind of keyboard and mouse that feature this connector.
Random access memory; a computer component that allows you to store data.
Rambus memory modules are much faster than the standard DDR modules, but are being replaced by DDR2 modules.
To restart your computer.
A base connected to a power outlet into which you can place a device that runs on rechargeable batteries in order to recharge those batteries.
Storage media, such as a CD, DVD, or flash drive, that can be taken away from your PC.
The number of pixels that your monitor’s display can show, both horizontally and vertically.
Something that a computer uses to get work done, such as memory or processor power.
Read-only memory; Permanent memory that can’t be altered by the microprocessor.
A sophisticated device used to connect your network; it can manage hundreds of networked computers and handle Internet traffic.
Repetitive stress injury; a physical condition caused by putting too much strain on a joint of the body.
One of the fastest means of connecting to the Internet, by using an outdoor antenna and a subscription to a satellite service.
A device that attaches to a computer and can create a graphics file of an object you place on the scanner (much like a photocopier, only a scanner produces a file rather than a paper copy).
The part of the computer monitor on which information is displayed.
Signifies the number of dots (pixels) on the entire screen.
A key on a computer’s keyboard that, when pressed and therefore active, reverses the function of the cursor keys in some spreadsheet applications.
Also called SyncDRAM, these memory modules take the form of standard DIMMs. This kind of module is too slow for current PC use.
An older kind of versatile computer port that can connect a variety of devices to the PC; it has been largely replaced with USB ports.
A 32-character unique identifier attached to the header of packets sent over a network that acts as a password when a mobile device tries to connect the network.
Single Inline Memory Module; a type of memory module that often needs to be added in pairs.
A state in which the computer slips into a special, power-saving setting, like going into a low-power coma.
Instructions that tell the computer hardware what to do or how to act; the brains of the computer.
A circuit-filled gadget that plugs inside your PC to add music and explosions to computer games.
A sound card feature that creates a 3D feeling to the sound being produced by your computer.
A computer connection, which requires special fiber optic cable, that’s used for digital audio.
I/O panel connectors used for digital audio. Special fiber-optic cable is required: Audio coming into the computer plugs into the In hole; the sound the computer generates goes out the Out hole.
Devices that emit sound from your computer. Speakers can be external, built into the console or the monitor, or even headphones.
Specifications about how a group of network devices communicate.
A kind of mouse that looks like a pen and draws on a special pad, which translates to the computer display.
A speaker box designed for low-frequency sounds, which gives oomph to the bass in music or adds emphasis to the sounds in games.
A special type of power strip that helps fight irregularities in the electrical supply that runs to your computer.
For surround sound, this is the I/O panel jack into which you plug the rear left and right speakers.
3D environmental audio, created by a set of speakers positioned around the listener.
A type of computer connection that allows you to attach an S-Video monitor, video recorder, or television to your PC.
A device that connects computers in a network and manages the signals between those computers.
The main box of the PC; also called the console. It’s a box that contains your computer’s soul, its electronic guts. On the outside, the console sports various buttons, lights, and holes into which you plug the rest of the computer system.
A computer designed to give accurate time information for any computer that checks in on the Internet.
A powdery ink substance that comes in a cartridge; used by laser printers.
A standard optical computer connector that creates high-quality sound reproduction.
A PC configuration that has essentially a full-sized desktop console standing on its side, usually on the floor; includes a lot of room for expansion.
A kind of upside-down mouse; you use your thumb or index figure to roll a ball on top of the mouse, while the whole contraption stays stationary.
A power strip combined with a battery to keep your computer running when the power goes out.
A complete revision of a computer program that you use to replace the current program.
Uninterruptible power supply; basically, a power strip combined with a battery to keep your computer running for a short time when the power goes out.
Universal Serial Bus; a computer connection that you can use to attach many different kinds of devices and peripherals to a computer.
A type of computer program that’s designed to help you manage the computer, or diagnose or fix problems.
The term for the original PC’s serial port.
Video Gate Array; a name used to describe graphics adapters.
The circuitry that controls the image appearing on the monitor’s screen; also known as a graphics adapter.
The I/O port where you plug in your monitor.
The most recent version of the Windows operating system.
Wireless access point; a device that brings wireless connectivity to an existing wired network.
A video camera that attaches to your computer and allows you to upload images or video to the Web.
Wired Equivalent Privacy; the encryption for a computer network.
A computer network that spans a relatively large geographical area. Typically, a WAN consists of two or more local-area networks (LANs).
Wireless fidelity; the original 802.11b standard wireless base station.
The most common operating system on PCs.
A security protocol for wireless local-area networks.
A network connected by cables.
Making a connection between computers or a computer and devices without physically connecting them with wires or cables; usually involves using radio signals to send and receive information.
An intermediary device that exchanges information between various configured wireless devices.
A network that features specific equipment, such as network interface cards and routers, in place of wires (copper or optical fiber) for connectivity.
A computer program in which you generate, edit, store, transmit, or duplicate electronic text documents.
Workgroup computing occurs when all the individuals have computers connected to a network that allows them to send e-mail to one another, share data files, and schedule meetings.
Zero insertion force; a type of socket designed for easy insertion in which a lever is pulled down to lock the chip in place.
A type of file compression where one or more files can be placed into a single file archive, which is digitally compressed to take up less room on the hard drive.