When you are on a private network, you can access or share files and folders between your computer and other devices. Windows does this by automatically discovering any new devices on the local network. However, Windows disables the network discovery feature by default for security reasons. So, if you are looking to access shared files to share files over the network, you first need to turn on network discovery.
Without turning on the network discovery, you cannot see the shared folders on your computer. Follow the below steps to setup network discovery on Windows 10.
Turn on Network Discovery
In Windows 10, you can use the PC Settings app to enable network discovery. Keep in mind that the below options are only available for Windows 10 v1709 (fall creators update) and above. If you are using Windows 10 version that is less then v1709 then update your system to a newer version or follow the second alternative method.
1. Open PC Settings app by searching for “Settings” in the start menu. You can also press the Win + I keyboard shortcut.
2. In the Settings app, go to “Network & Internet -> Status” page and click on the “Change connection properties” link under the Network Status section.
3. In the subsequent page, select “Private” radio option under Network Profile section.
4. Now, go back to the Status page and you should see Private Network under the Network Status.
When you set a network to private status via the PC Settings app, the network discovery feature is turned on automatically. From now on, you can access all the local shares. Other local PC’s can also see your shared folder and access them according to the share permissions.
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(Alternative Method) Control Panel Options to Enable Network Discovery
If you are using Windows 7, 8, or older version of Windows 10, you can use the control panel options. We are doing the same thing, it just the user interface will be a bit different.
1. Open “Control Panel” by searching for it in the start menu.
2. In the Control Panel, set View By to “Category”. Next, click on the “Network and Internet”.
3. Now, click on the “Network and Sharing Center” link.
4. This page will show all your connections. Make sure that your connected network is set to “Private Network”. If the network is set to “Public Network” then change the network from Public to Private.
Important: Unless you know what you are doing, never turn on sharing on public networks.
5. Once you’ve confirmed you are on a private network, click on the “Change advanced sharing settings” link on the left panel.
6. Here, expand the Private menu. Next, select the “Turn on network discovery” radio option and then select the “Turn on automatic setup of network-connected device” checkbox.
7. Click on the “Save Changes” button to save and apply the changes.
That is it. Go to the network folder in File Explorer and you will see any and all shared folders. Likewise, other PC’s and devices in your network can see your shared folders.