On Windows 10, HomeGroup used to be a feature to simplify the process for sharing resources, such as files and printers, with network users. However, since the release of the April 2018 Update (version 1803), Microsoft discontinued the feature, and as a result, you'll no longer find settings to use HomeGroup anywhere (although you'll still find some references of the feature).

Instead, Microsoft wants you to start using new sharing features like Share, Nearby sharing, OneDrive, and the more advanced file and printer sharing options, which offer virtually the same experience, but using a different set of instructions.

In this Windows 10 guide, we' walk you through the steps to share files and printers inside your local network without the need of HomeGroup.

How to share files without HomeGroup on Windows 10

Windows 10 provides a variety of ways to share files as well as folders with other users, including using the "Share" feature, OneDrive, and setting up a more advanced configuration using folder sharing.

Sharing files using Share

When you need to share (or send) one or multiple files to another computer across the house, office, or across the world ones, you can use the "Share" feature, which comes built into File Explorer and most modern applications.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Browse to the folder location with the files that you want to share.
  3. Select one, multiple, or all the files.
  4. Click on the Share tab.

    Quick tip: Alternatively, you can right-click your selection and click the Share option in the context menu. Also, the Share option can be found in many apps that you acquire from the Microsoft Store.

  5. Click the Share button.

  6. Select a contact, nearby sharing device, or one of the Microsoft Store apps (such as Mail).
  7. Continue with the on-screen directions to share the content.

If you're about to share files with a nearby device, note that "Nearby sharing" needs to be enabled on the local and destination computer to work correctly. You can learn more about how to use this feature in this guide.

Sharing files using OneDrive

If you want to share files stored inside your OneDrive account, then use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for OneDrive and click the top result to open the folder location.
  3. Right-click the content that you want to share and select the Share a OneDrive link option to create and copy the shareable link to the clipboard.

  4. Right-click and paste the link to share it on any email, social media post, or any other type of messaging system.

Once the recipient receives the link, the user will be able to access the content even if your computer isn't online.

Customize sharing options with OneDrive

When sharing content with OneDrive, you can also customize how the content is share with other people. For example, you can allow or deny editing, set an access password and expiration date.

To customize the content that you want to share with OneDrive, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for OneDrive and click the top result to open the folder location.
  3. Right-click the folder or file that you want to share and select More OneDrive sharing options.

  4. Set the sharing preference for the OneDrive content. Options available include, the ability to allow editing, set expiration date or password.

  5. Click the Get a link option.
  6. Click the Copy button to upload the link to the clipboard.
  7. Right-click and paste the link to share it on any email, social media post, or any other type of messaging system.

After you complete the steps, people with the link be able to access the content even if your computer isn't online with the permissions that you specified.

Sharing folders using File Explorer

If you need to share multiple files in the local network (or you want to create a central location that network users can use to share documents), using the File Explorer sharing options is your best approach.

To create a basic folder share on Windows 10, which users can use to access and modify files, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Browse to the folder with the content that you want to share.
  3. Right-click the folder, select the Give access too option, and click the Specific people option.

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

    • Local users — Selecting individual existing accounts, the user must provide username and password of the account to access the files. If the user is signed in using the same credentials, then they may be able to access the share content without any prompts.
    • Everyone — Shares the contents 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 won't work, because Windows 10 no longer allows you to create a new account using Control Panel. This is an inconsistency that Microsoft needs to fix, in addition to removing all the HomeGroup mentions that also don't work.

  5. Click the Add button.

  6. Under the "Permission Level" column, click the permissions button and specify the access privileges:

    • Read — Gives network users the ability to list and open files, but they won't be able to modify or delete existing files and folders. Also, they won't be able to upload or create new folders or files.
    • Read/Write — Allows users to list, open, modify, delete, upload, and create new files and folders.
    • Remove — Blocks the specified user or group from accessing the folder and its contents.

  7. Click the Share button.
  8. Right-click the shared folder path and select the Copy Link option.

  9. Click the Close button.

After you complete the steps, you can share the link (which you copied to the clipboard on step No. 8) with users in the local network.

Accessing a shared folder

To access a shared folder on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Right-click and paste the path for the shared folder in the address bar and press Enter.

  3. Access and modify the shared content as necessary.

If you're logged in using a username and password that matches the same credentials in the device sharing the folder, you may not need to sign in again to access the shared folder. However, if you're prompted to log in, you must enter the account credentials of an account located in the computer sharing the folder.

Alternatively, users can also use the "Network" page from the File Explorer left pane to browse the computer and access the shared folder contents.

When sharing folders in the network, users will only be able to access the files if the computer sharing the folder is powered on and connected to the network.

Troubleshoot shared folder access

If you're sharing a folder or printer at home or small office, there's a chance that you won't be able to access the resource from other devices because of possible issues translating the computer name to a TCP/IP address, problems with the firewall or your network profile is set to public.

Identify TCP/IP address

Usually, you can get around the translation issue by using the TCP/IP address instead of the computer name in the network share link.

To find out the device IP address, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Network & Internet.
  3. Click on Ethernet or Wi-Fi (depending on your network connection).
  4. Click the network connection.

  5. Under the "Properties" section, note your current IPv4 address.

  6. In the network path, replace the computer name with the IP address.

After editing the link, the unique path should look something like this: //10.1.2.181/ShareOne.

Set network profile to private

If your device is using the public network profile, a shared folder or printer won't be discoverable in the network, and as a result, trying to access the resource will require to enter credentials. To avoid this issue, you must set the network profile to private on every computer using these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Network & Internet.
  3. Click on Ethernet or Wi-Fi (depending on your network connection).
  4. Click the network connection.

  5. Under the "Network profile" section, select the Private option.

Once you complete the steps, users should be able to access shared files and printers from their computer.

Allow files and printer through a firewall

If you think the firewall is causing issues, you can temporarily disable the feature on both devices for troubleshooting purposes.

To temporarily disable the firewall on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Windows Security.
  2. Click on Firewall & network protection.
  3. Click the Private network option.

  4. Turn off the Windows Defender Firewall toggle switch.

    Quick tip: after finding out the issue, make sure to turn the firewall back on.

Once you complete the steps, try to access the shared folder from another device, if it's a firewall problem, then you'll need to open the corresponding network port.

Open firewall ports for file and printer sharing

To allow file and printer sharing through the firewall, use these steps:

  1. Open Windows Security.
  2. Click on Firewall & network protection.
  3. Click the Allow app through firewall option.

  4. In the "Allowed apps" section, click the Change settings button.

  5. Select the File and Printer Sharing option, and make sure to check the Private network option.

  6. Click the OK button.

After completing the steps, network users should be able to access the shared folder even with the firewall enabled.

In the case that you're using a third-party firewall solution, you'll need to check your vendor support website for specific details on how to get around this problem.

How to share printers without HomeGroup on Windows 10

In the past, the easiest method to share a local printer was using HomeGroup, but now even without the feature, you can still share a USB printer with other users in the local network.

Important: If you have a printer that comes with a print server, it's recommended to use that feature. (Refer to your printer manufacturer support website for more specific instructions on how to connect the device to the network.) If you're dealing with a print server, you only need to follow the steps below to connect your devices to the network printer.

To share a printer on Windows 10 with other users (assuming it's already installed on your computer), use these steps:

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

  6. Click the Printer properties option.

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

  10. Click the Apply button.
  11. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the printer will be available to network users while your computer is powered on.

Connecting devices to a shared printer

To connect clients to the shared printer on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Devices.
  3. Click on Printer & scanners.
  4. Click the Add a printer or scanner button.
  5. Select the printer from the list to add to the device. If the printer discovery doesn't work, click The printer that I want isn't listed option.

  6. Choose the Select a shared printer by name option.
  7. Type the path of the printer location:

    \\xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx\PRINTER-SHARE-NAME

    In the command, make sure to change the "xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx" and "PRINTER-SHARE-NAME" for the IP address (or computer name) and share the name of the printer that you're trying to connect.

    Quick tip: You can also click the Browse button to locate and select the shared printer.

  8. Click the Next button.
  9. Click the Install driver button.

  10. Click the Next button.

  11. Click the Finish button.

After completing the steps, you should be able to send a print job to the network printer successfully.

Connect to printer from older computer

If you're running an older version of Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 7, the steps to connect to the printer will be slightly different:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on Hardware and Sound.

  3. Click on the Devices and Printers option.

  4. Click the Add a printer button.

  5. Select the printer from the list to add to the computer. If the printer discovery doesn't work, click The printer that I want isn't listed option.

  6. Choose the Select a shared printer by name option.
  7. Type the path of the printer location:

    \\xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx\PRINTER-SHARE-NAME

    In the command, make sure to change the "xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx" and "PRINTER-SHARE-NAME" for the IP address (or computer name) and share the name of the printer that you're trying to connect.

    Quick tip: You can also click the Browse button to locate and select the shared printer.

  8. Click the Next button.
  9. Click the Install driver button.

  10. Click the Next button.

  11. Click the Finish button.

Once you complete the steps, remember that users will only be able to print as long as the device sharing the printer is powered on and connected to the network. If the computer is sleeping, hibernating, or powered off, no one will be able to print.

Wrapping things up

Windows 10 includes many features and advanced settings to share resources with network users, and in this guide, we're focusing on using the necessary configurations to help users coming from HomeGroup.

If you're in an environment running different versions of Windows, you can still refer to this guide to share files and printers on older releases of Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and even Windows 7.

More Windows 10 resources

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

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