How to Set Up a Homegroup Network in Windows 10

By Andy Rathbone

A simpler way of networking, a Homegroup in Windows 10 lets every Windows PC in the house share the things nearly everybody wants to share: music, photos, movies, and the household printer. Set up a Homegroup, and Windows automatically begins sharing those items. The Homegroup strategically leaves out the folder you probably dont want to share: your Documents folder.

Homegroups work with any Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 computers on your network, as well. (Homegroups dont work with Windows Vista or Windows XP, unfortunately.)

Depending on your network, you may be invited to join a Homegroup as soon as your computer connects with your router. If so, jump to Step 2.

Here’s how to set up a new Homegroup on your Windows PC as well as how to let Windows join a Homegroup you may have already set up with your other networked computers:

  1. Right-click the Start button and choose Control Panel from the pop-up menu.

  2. When the Control Panel appears, click the Network and Internet icon. When the Network and Internet page appears, click HomeGroup from the right pane.

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    Can’t find the Homegroup setting? Then type homegroup into the Settings’ window’s Search box, located in the window’s upper-right corner. When the word HomeGroup appears in the Search Results, click it to open the Homegroup window.

  3. In the Homegroup window, click the Change Network Location link, and click the Yes button in the pane that appears on the right.

    When you first connect to a wireless network, Windows assumes it’s a public network, perhaps at a coffee shop. Naturally, Windows also assumes you don’t want anybody to snoop through your computer, so it leaves your PC “undiscoverable.” That means nobody can find it on the network, and, you won’t be able to find anybody else’s computer.

    Choosing Yes, shown here, tells Windows that you’re on a private network where you want to share things like files and printers.

    Click Yes to make your wireless network private and allow sharing.

    Click Yes to make your wireless network private and allow sharing.
  4. Click either the Create a Homegroup or Join Now button.

    If you see a Create a Homegroup button, click it to create a new Homegroup.

    If you see a Join Now button (as shown here), somebody has already created a Homegroup on your network. To join it, click the Join Now button.

    Click Join Now to join an existing Homegroup. Click Create to create a new Homegroup.

    Click Join Now to join an existing Homegroup. Click Create to create a new Homegroup.

    Whether you click the Join Now or Create a Homegroup button, Windows asks what items you’d like to share.

    If you’re asked to change the network privacy settings on your computer, be sure to choose Private rather than Public.

  5. Choose the items you’d like to share, click Next, and, if joining an existing Homegroup, type in your network’s Homegroup password.

    Shown in the following figure, the window lets you select the folders you want to share with your Homegroup family. To share an item, choose Share from its adjacent drop-down menu. To keep items private, choose Not Shared.

    Most people want to share their Music, Pictures, Videos folders, as well as their printer and media devices. Because the Documents folder contains more private material, it’s usually left unshared.

    Most people share only their Music, Pictures, and Videos folders, as well as their printers and med

    Most people share only their Music, Pictures, and Videos folders, as well as their printers and media devices.

    Sharing a folder simply lets other people access that folder’s files to view the pictures or watch a video, for example. They can neither change nor delete those files, nor can they create or place any files in your folder.

    Finally, if you’re joining an existing Homegroup, type in the Homegroup’s existing password. Don’t know the password? On a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 computer, find the password by opening any folder, right-clicking the word HomeGroup in the folder’s left pane, and choosing View the Homegroup Password. (The password is case sensitive, so make sure you capitalize the correct letters.)

    If you’re joining an existing Homegroup, you’re finished.

  6. If you clicked the Create a Homegroup button, take note of the password listed at the closing screen.

    You must enter that same password into each computer you want to include in your Homegroup. Leave your computer turned on and follow these steps on your other computers to join the Homegroup you’ve just created.

When you’re through with these steps, you’ve created or joined a Homegroup that’s accessible from every Windows 8.1, 8, and 7 PC on your network. You’ve also set up your PC to allow its Music, Photos, and Videos folders to be shared, something I describe in the next section.

Hailing strictly from the world of Windows, Homegroups won’t allow you to share items with iPads, or smartphones. For sharing files between those devices, download their OneDrive app.

  • When you create or join a Homegroup, you’re choosing which folders to share only from your own account. If other account holders on that PC also want to share their folders, they should do this while logged on with their account: Open any folder, right-click Homegroup in the Navigation Pane, and choose Change HomeGroup Settings. There they can add check marks to the items they want to share and then click Save Changes.

  • Changed your mind about your Homegroup settings? Follow the preceding steps to change which items you’d like to share.

  • After choosing to join a Homegroup, you may need to wait a few minutes until you’re able to share files or printers with your networked computers.

  • Forgot the all-important Homegroup password? Open any folder, right-click the word Homegroup in the Navigation Pane, and then choose View the HomeGroup Password.