How to get Peer-to-Peer File Sharing to Work with Windows 7

By Dave Peiser

While the advanced security capabilities of Windows 7 are great for keeping bad guys from seeing your data, there are many home and office situations where you really don't care about this threat, and just want a simple solution for sharing files and folders. Also, if you are adding a Windows 7 PC that shares folders, but your other systems are Macs or different versions of Windows, the advanced security can get in the way. Here is what you need to do if you are not concerned with advanced security, and just want to give access to certain folders to everyone on your network :

First, turn off the advanced security by doing this:

  1. Go to Control Panel
  2. Under the heading "Network and Internet" Click on "Choose Home Group and Sharing Options"
  3. Click on "Change advanced sharing settings…"
  4. There are six items where settings can be changed. Make sure the following are selected:
  • Turn on network discovery
  • Turn on file and printer sharing
  • Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in the Public folders
  • Enable file sharing for devices that use 40- or 56-bit encryption
  • Turn off password protected sharing
  • Allow Windows to manage homegroup connections (recommended)
  1. Click "Save changes"
  2. Close any open windows

Share a folder so Everyone can see it

  1. Go to "Computer" and navigate to the folder listing where the folder you want to share is listed.
  2. Right-click on the folder, then left click on "Share with … Specific People"
  3. Here you will see one or two usernames listed, but what you want is the "Everyone" username to be added. In the empty box above the username list, click on the arrow (down-facing carrot) at the right side of the empty box, and this will display a drop-down list with several usernames. Select the one called "Everyone"
  4. Click "Add"
  5. If you would like users on the network to be able to edit the files in your shared folder, click the word "Read" and change it to "Read/Write"
  6. Click "Share"  (Depending on how many files and subfolders you have, this step may take a little while to complete)
  7. Click "Done"

Now go to one of your other computers. If it's running Windows XP, go to "My Network Places", and your shared folder should be listed and available.