HomeGroup is a feature that has been around for many years, and it allows devices to easily share resources, such as files and printers, with other Windows computers on a small local network. However, starting with the Windows 10 April 2018 Update (version 1803), Microsoft is retiring the feature.

As a result, you'll no longer find the option in File Explorer, Control Panel, or Troubleshoot settings. Moving forward, Microsoft wants you to use modern built-in tools like Share, Nearby sharing, OneDrive, and Windows 10's built-in file and print sharing features.

If you're among those users who used to rely on HomeGroup to share resources with other people on the network, you can continue to share content after upgrading to version 1803, but the steps will be different.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to keep sharing files and printers in your home network without HomeGroup after moving to the April 2018 Update.

How to share files without HomeGroup on Windows 10

On Windows 10, there are multiple ways to share files with other people, including using the Share functionality, OneDrive, and file sharing feature.

How to share a file using File Explorer

If you want to perform a one-time file transfer to someone across the room or across the world, you can use the Share option:

  1. Open File Explorer (Windows key + E).
  2. Browse to the folder with files that you want to share.
  3. Select the one, multiple, or all the files (Ctrl + A).
  4. Click the Share tab.
  5. Click the Share button.

    Quick Tip: You can also right-click your selection and click the Share option in the context menu.

  6. Select the sharing method, including:

    • Email.
    • Nearby sharing.
    • Microsoft Store app.

  7. Continue with the on-screen directions to share the content.

If you're looking to share files with nearby devices, you need to make sure that Nearby sharing is setup and configured correctly on your machine as well as on the destination device.

Nearby sharing is available on computers running the Windows 10 April 2018 Update and later that use compatible Bluetooth adapters. You can learn everything there's to know about the sharing tool in this comprehensive guide.

How to share files using OneDrive

Although you can also use File Explorer to share files stored on OneDrive with other people, the steps are a little different:

  1. Open File Explorer (Windows key + E).
  2. Browse to the OneDrive folder that includes the files you want to share.
  3. Right-click the file, and click the Share a OneDrive link option.

Once you've completed the steps, a unique link to the file will be created and copied to the clipboard. You can now right-click, paste, and send the link to the content using email, online service, or another type of messaging service.

Customizing OneDrive sharing options

In the case that you want to customize the sharing options or share the files with multiple people, you can do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer (Windows key + E).
  2. Browse to the OneDrive folder that includes the files you want to share.
  3. Right-click the file, and click More OneDrive sharing options.

  4. Using the sharing options, you'll be able to:

    • Allow editing.
    • Set expiration date.
    • Set password.
    • Get a copy of the link.
    • Send link via email.
    • Share link in social media services.

You can always check out our complete guide to learn more about how to use OneDrive on Windows 10.

How to share a folder using File Explorer

If you used to share a bunch of files and folders with users on the local network using HomeGroup, you could still share any content, but it'll take a few extra steps.

In order to quickly share a folder with users on the local network, do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer (Windows key + E).
  2. Browse to the folder you want to share.
  3. Right-click the folder, select Give access to, and click the Specific people option.

  4. In the "Network access" wizard, use the drop-down menu, select the users you want to share the folder and its content:

    • Individual user — If you select an existing account, the user must provide username and password to access the files, unless the user is logged with an account on the other device that features the same credentials.
    • Everyone — Allows to share content with anyone in the network without the need to enter a password to access the files.

    Quick Note: You may also find an option to create a new account, but it'll not work, because Windows 10 no longer allows you to create a new account through Control Panel. This is an inconsistency that Microsoft needs to fix.

  5. Click the Add button.

  6. Using the "Permission Level" drop-down menu, select how users will be accessing content in the shared folder:

    • Read — Users can list and open files, but they're not allowed to modify or delete existing files and folder. Also, they won't be able to upload or create new files and folders.
    • Read/Write — Users can list, open, modify, delete, upload, and create new files and folders.
    • Remove — Restricts access to a user or group of users to the folder.

  7. Click the Share button.

After completing the steps, the wizard will give you the link that network users can use to access the folder and its content.

When sharing a folder, bear in mind that users will only be able to access the files if the device making the sharing is turned on and connected to the network.

Accessing a shared folder

Once you have the unique path, there are at least two ways to access the shared folder. You can copy and paste the link in the File Explorer address bar, or you can navigate to the folder using the "Network" page listed in the left pane of File Explorer.

If you're not able to access the folder in your home network, then it's likely to be a problem translating the computer name to an IP address, or the path is getting blocked by the firewall. In this case, you can try changing the computer name in the path with the IP address of the computer sharing the folder, which you can find on Settings > Network & Security, and looking into the network adapter properties.

If you think that there's a firewall problem, you can temporarily disable this feature on both devices for troubleshooting purposes. You can do this on Windows Defender Security Center > Firewall & network protection, then inside the Private network settings, turn off the Windows Defender Firewall toggle switch, and then try to access the shared folder.

In the case the problem is caused by the firewall, you can fix this issue clicking the Allow an app through firewall link in the "Firewall & network protection" page, and making sure File and Printer Sharing is allowed for Private network.

If you're using a different firewall solution, make sure to check your software vendor support website for more specific details on how to fix this issue.

How to share printers without HomeGroup on Windows 10

HomeGroup also offered the ability to share a printer connected directly to a computer with other devices on the network, but even without this feature, you can still share a USB printer quite easily on Windows 10.

Important: If you have a printer or multifunction device with a built-in print server, it's recommended to use that option instead. In that case, you only need to follow the steps to connect to the printer using the steps below. (Check your printer manufacturer support website for more specific details to complete this task.)

In order to share a printer with other users on the local network, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Devices.
  3. Click on Printers & scanners.
  4. Under "Printers & scanners," select the printer you want to share.
  5. Click the Manage button.

  6. Click the Printer properties link.

  7. Click on the Sharing tab.
  8. Check the Share this printer option.
  9. In the "Share name" field, type a new descriptive name. (If this is the only printer on the network, you can just use the default name.)

  10. Click Apply.
  11. Click OK.

Once you've completed the steps, the last thing left to do is to connect all the devices on the local network to the new shared printer.

Connecting devices to the shared printer

In order to connect computers to the shared printer, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Devices.
  3. Click on Printers & scanners.
  4. Click the Add a printer or scanner button.
  5. If the device is found, select it, and follow the on-screen directions to install the printer. Otherwize, click The printer that I want isn't listed link.

  6. Choose the Select a shared printer by name option.

  7. Click the Browse button.
  8. Double-click the computer name sharing the printer.
  9. Select the printer.

  10. Click the Select button.
  11. Click the Next button.
  12. Click the Next button again.

  13. Click the Finish button.

After completing the steps, you'll need to repeat the same instructions on the remaining devices that will be printing to the same shared printer.

Connecting older devices

If you're dealing with a device running an older version of Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 7, you can quickly connect to the networked printer using these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on View devices and printers.

  3. Click the Add a printer button.

  4. If the device is found, select it, and follow the on-screen directions to install the printer. Otherwise, click The printer that I want isn't listed link.

  5. Choose the Select a shared printer by name option.

  6. Click the Browse button.
  7. Double-click the computer name sharing the printer.
  8. Select the printer.

  9. Click the Select button.
  10. Click the Next button.
  11. Click the Next button again.

  12. Click the Finish button.

Once devices are connected to the printer, remember that users will only be able to print while the computer sharing the printer is turned on. If the device is asleep, hibernating, or off, users won't be able to connect.

Wrapping things up

If you were using HomeGroup before installing the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, any files, folders, and printer that you shared will continue to be available to network users after upgrading to the new version. However, this guide includes everything you need to know to get started with the built-in sharing tools to modify the current setup or to share files and printers from scratch after a clean installation.

Although Windows 10 includes a number of tools and advanced settings that you can configure, this guide focuses on the steps for beginners who previously were using HomeGroup.

Furthermore, if you're in a mixed environment, you can still refer to this guide to share files and printers on the network with older versions of Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7.

How to do you share files and printers on your home network? Tell us in the comments.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources: