How to Access Shared Folders in Windows - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Finding and using shared folders on the network happens either from Windows Explorer or within an Open or Save As dialog box. The methods for accessing a shared folder differ between Windows 7 and Vista and Windows XP.

In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, open the Network window or choose Network from the Address bar. Open the icon representing a computer on the network that contains the folder you want to access. If necessary, log in to that computer by using the Connect To dialog box. Then open the shared folder that appears in the list.

In Windows XP, open the My Network Places window or choose My Network Places from the Address bar in any Windows Explorer, Open, or Save As dialog box. The list of shared folders for all computers on the network appears in the window. Just open the icon of the folder you want to use.


As in Windows Vista, you may be prompted to provide login information to access the shared folder. Type your username and password to get proper access to the folder. Yes, that often means you need to have an account on the shared computer or know the username and password of an account on that computer.

  • The Browse dialog box is essentially the same thing as the Open dialog box.

  • Shared folders are available only when the computer sharing the folder is turned on and not in either Sleep mode or Stand By mode.