In this article, I will show you how to set up a local network in Windows 11. For example, to share files. First, we will set the required sharing options, enable network discovery and file and printer sharing. Then I’ll show you how to share any folder in Windows 11 and how to access it from another computer on the local network. After setting up, you will be able to find other computers on the local network, access their shared folders, and grant access to the necessary folders on your computer.
If you need to quickly transfer files between computers, then you can use the “Share with nearby devices” function. It works great in Windows 11 and Windows 10. It’s faster and easier than LAN. But the principle of work there is different, there are no shared folders, you can only transfer individual files. If you need to create shared folders, then you need to configure the local network according to this instruction. There can be computers on the network not only on Windows 11. If you have devices on Windows 10 or Windows 7, they will also be displayed in the network environment. But you also need to set the sharing parameters on them. Here is a separate guide for Windows 10 and a guide to setting up a local network in Windows 7.
How to set up sharing in Windows 11?
Initially, in Windows 11, changing sharing settings was only available through the old Control Panel. But after the update (I won’t say after which specifically, but I now have version 22H2 and build 22621.963) sharing settings became available only in the settings.
To enable network discovery and file and printer sharing in Windows 11, you need to:
- Open Options. You can open the Start menu, find this item there and select it. Or, right-click on the Start menu and select Settings.
- In Settings, go to the “Network and Internet” section and select “Advanced network settings” at the bottom.
- Open “Advanced Sharing Options”.
- There you will see three tabs with settings: Private networks, Public networks and All networks. Opposite “Private networks” or “Public networks” will be the inscription “Current profile”.
As you can see in the screenshot above, my “Private Networks” profile is current. What are these profiles and for which profile to change the sharing settings, I will now explain.
Windows 11 for every internet connection (by cable or Wi-Fi network) assigns a profile to a private (home) or public network. We can change this profile in connection properties. I already talked about this in a separate article: Open or private network in Windows 11. How to change the type of network profile?
It is recommended that you only share files on networks you trust. As a rule, this is the network to which you connect at home or in the office. It is better not to share files on public networks. Therefore, for the network in which you want to set up a local network, I recommend choosing the “Private Networks” profile (link to instructions above) and change the sharing settings for this particular network. They will apply to all networks with the status “Private networks”. And in networks with the selected “Public networks” profile, public access will be closed.
- In order for your computer to be found and found by other computers on the network, you need to enable “Network discovery”.
- To allow other users on the network to access shared folders and printers, enable the item “File and Printer Sharing”.
We have made the basic settings. Now your computer will find other computers on the network. It can also be seen in the network environment.
On the All Networks tab, there are two more options that might come in handy. I’ll tell you more about them.
Sharing public folders
Windows 11, like other versions of Windows, has shared folders: Shared Music, Shared Videos, Shared Documents, Shared Downloads, and Shared Images. If on the tab “All networks” enable the item “Sharing public folders”, then we will open public access to these folders.
Other computers on the network will be able to copy files to these folders and view them.
Sharing with password protection
By default, password-protected sharing is enabled. This means that in order to access another or your computer on the local network, you will need to enter network credentials (username and password). That is, you need to create a user on the computer and log in using his credentials when logging in from another computer. If you don’t need it, you can simply disable “Password Protected Sharing”.
Now when you log into shared folders on your computer (from other computers) you will not need to enter a username and password. If you want to access other computers without entering credentials, then you also need to disable password-protected sharing on them.
What if I don’t have these settings?
There are two options:
- Install all the latest Windows 11 updates.
- Open the Start menu, start typing “Control Panel” and open it. Then go to section Control Panel\Network and Internet\Network and Sharing Centeron the left select “Change advanced sharing options” and change the settings there.
There, all the settings are exactly the same as I showed above. Just designed a little differently.
Network discovery in Windows 11
To access shared folders on other computers on the local network, you need to open File Explorer and go to the “Network” tab on the left. There, in the “Computer” section, your computer and other available computers on which network discovery is also enabled should be displayed. If necessary, you can change the computer name in the settings, in the “System” – “About” section.
When you try to access a computer on a local network, Windows 11 may ask you for account information (username and password). You either need to enter these details to access shared folders, or disable password-protected sharing on that computer. I already wrote about this in the article above.
When you open the desired computer, you will see the shared folders to which access has been granted.
You can share any folder on your computer and it will show up in File Explorer.
Setting up folder sharing in Windows 11
Now I will show you how to share a folder in Windows 11. You can share any folder. All computers on the local network will have access to it. Can record and view files (write and read access rights can also be configured).
To share a folder:
- Right-click on the folder and select “Properties”. For example, for me, this is the “Photos” folder on drive D.
- A new window will open. Go to the “Access” tab and click on the “Sharing” button.
- Add users for whom you want to share this folder and set the access level (read only, or read and write). You can add a new user, or select one from the drop down menu. After setting, click on the “Share” button.
These settings can always be changed in the folder properties.
- You will see a message that the folder is shared.
Click on the “Finish” button.
- This folder will now show up in File Explorer.
To turn off sharing a folder, on the “Sharing” tab, click on the “Advanced settings” button, uncheck the box next to “Share this folder” and click “Apply”.
Let me remind you that you can apply these settings to absolutely any folder on your computer.
In the process of writing this article, I set everything up on my laptop with Windows 11 installed and checked everything. Shared folder access over the local network works. I checked it with another computer on Windows 10. And this means that everything should work for you too. If you didn’t manage to set up something, some errors and something else – write about it in the comments. I think I can help you.