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How to Turn On Network Discovery and File Sharing on Windows 11

Turning on network discovery and file sharing in Windows 11 allows you to find and connect to other Windows devices on the same network. This is an incredibly useful feature for sharing files and printers between computers in a home or office environment. For example, I use these features to share files between my laptop, desktop, and virtual machines (VMs). In this tutorial, I’ll guide you through the steps to turn on network discovery and file sharing in Windows 11.

Before You Begin

  • For security reasons, it is generally recommended that you only turn on Network Discovery and File Sharing on private networks. Public networks, like those in cafes, airports, hotels, etc., are less secure. Enabling these features on a public network may open your computer to outside threats and expose your files and folders.
  • You need administrator rights to change advanced network settings to enable network discovery and file sharing on Windows 11.

Steps to Turn On Network Discovery & File Sharing on Windows 11

  1. Press Windows key + I to open Settings.
  2. Go to the Network & Internet tab.
  3. Click on the Advanced Network Settings option.
  4. Click the Advanced Sharing Settings option under “More Settings”.
  5. Expand the Private Network section.
  6. Turn on the Network Discovery toggle.
  7. Optionally, check the Set up network connected devices automatically checkbox.
  8. Turn on the File and Printer Sharing toggle.

Detailed Steps (With Screenshots):

First, open the Settings window by pressing the Windows key + I shortcut. Alternatively, right-click on the Start button and select Settings.

In the Settings window, go to the Network & Internet tab and click on the Advanced Network Settings option under the “More Settings” section.

click on advacned network settings

Here, click on the Advanced Sharing Settings option.

click on advacned sharing settings

Expand the Private Network dropdown section by clicking on it. Next, turn on the Network Discovery and File and Printer Sharing toggles.

Optionally, check the Set up network connected devices automatically checkbox. Selecting this option allows Windows to automatically discover and configure devices on your network, so you can start using them with minimal manual configuration. For example, if Windows identifies a printer on your network, it will automatically configure it for you.

turn on network discovery and file sharing

Finally, close the Settings window.

That’s it! Network Discovery and File Sharing are now enabled in Windows 11. Your computer is now visible to other devices on the network, and it can also see them, allowing for easy file and printer sharing.

Wrapping Up — Network Discovery & File Sharing Features

As you can see, enabling advanced network features such as network discovery and file sharing is easier than you think. However, as I mentioned earlier, only turn them on when using a private network. Doing so on a public network can expose your system to potential threats and compromise your files and printers.

If you have any questions or need help, comment below. I’ll be happy to assist. If you are using Windows 10, check out our guide for enabling Network Discovery and File Sharing on Windows 10.

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