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How to Share a Folder in Windows Vista without Moving It to the Public Folder

Part of the joy of having a network is sharing your drives, data, printers, and folders. Vista tells you that if you want to share something over your private network, move it to the Public Folder. But what if you don't want to do that? You can still share the contents of any folder in Windows Vista without having to move them to the Public folder or anywhere else.

Sharing in Vista isn’t automatic, and it isn’t easy. On the other hand, it is secure. If you want to ensure that no other computers on your network can see your data, it’s pretty easy: Just tell Vista you have a “Public” network. The razor wire appears like magic.

Sometimes you don’t want to move a folder to the Public folder. Maybe the contents are large and it would take too long to move them, or maybe you prefer your method of organizing your files and folders instead of Microsoft's. That’s okay.

As long as you're using an Administrator account, or you have a Standard account and you “own” a folder, you can share the folder — make it available to others on your computer or (if File Sharing is enabled on your computer) make it available to others on the network. You just have to jump through a couple of hoops.

  1. In Windows Explorer, navigate to the folder you want to share. Click it.

    A Share button appears in the menu at the top.

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  2. Click the Share button.

    Vista brings up the File Sharing dialog box, in which you can give permission for others to get into the folder.

  3. Choose the user you want to give permission to and click the Add button.

    If you want to allow everyone on your network to get into the folder, choose Everyone. Vista adds the person (or people) to the allowed list and gives them “Reader” (read-only) permission.

    Remember that folks will still need to have access to your network and will still be bound by the File Sharing and Password Protected Sharing settings you established in the File Sharing dialog box.

  4. If you want to increase the permission level for a user, click the down arrow to the right of the permission and select a different level; when you’re done, click the Share button.

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    A Contributor is allowed to change and delete files; a Co-owner can also set permissions.

    Don’t get too complicated here. Remember that you need to keep these permissions updated — if you don’t change them, they stay in effect forever. Even if you forget about them.

  5. Click the Continue button in response to a User Account Control message.

    When Vista is finished, it gives you a confirmation message to let you know that your folder is now being shared.

  6. Click the Done button.

    The new sharing rules take effect immediately.

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