Lesson 3- Sharing Files and Printers in Windows XP and Vista


In Lesson 3 we show two computers.  One running XP and the other Vista.  They are both new installs so the settings we change are the default ones you would see if you never touched the networking and sharing settings.  We set the computer and workgroup name, check the networking protocols, enable file and printer sharing in both XP and Vista. Then we share a few folders and printers on each computer.

Recommended Networking Hardware

D-Link DIR-655 Wireless N Router
Encore ENLWI-N Wireless N PCI card

D-Link DWA-140 Wireless N USB adapter
LINKSYS WPC600N Wireless N Cardbus Adapter


ENCORE ENHWI-N Wireless N Router


ENCORE ENUWI-N Wireless N USB adapter


Hello and welcome to Lesson 3. In this lesson we’re going to walk you through sharing files and printers. We’re going to set up the sharing so that any computer on the network can have full access to the files and printers. We’re going to cover the steps slowly with a lot of explanation. Then in Lesson 4 we will go to each of the computers and share files and printers.

Sharing a folder in XP

Here in Windows XP what we’re going to do is just create a folder. We’ll call it Share and to share this folder we need to right-click on it. Go to Sharing and Security and we’re on the sharing tab. This is what the sharing page looks like when you’ve never shared anything before. It prompts you to run a Network Setup Wizard to enable file sharing. You don’t want to do that. You want to click this bottom link if you understand security risks’, yes, click that and it again prompts you to run the wizard we’ll tell it to just enable file sharing and click okay.

If you’ve once enable file sharing on your computer, when you look at the sharing page will look like this. We need to click ‘share this folder on the network’. The share name will default to the name of the folder and we’re going to tell it to allow network users to change my files. That means anyone who connects to this computer and this share will have full access to this folder. They’ll be able to upload their own files, change any of the files in the folder and even delete files in the folder.  We’ll click okay and that’s it. The icon now has a hand on it which means it’s shared and now anyone on the network can access this shared folder.

Sharing a folder in Vista

In Windows Vista it’s very similar process, there’s just a few more options. We’re going to do the same thing in Vista we’ll right-click, go to new and folder. We’ll also call it Share we’ll right-click on it, choose share and Windows Vista you’re asked who you want to share with. By default it will have your username and a permission level of owner. To share with everyone we’ll click the little down arrow here, choose Everyone and add and now Everyone shows up the list.

and it defaults to ‘Reader’. What reader means is that everyone on the network who connects to this computer and the shared folder will be able to access the files in it, but they won’t be able to change the files, delete the files, or add their own files to this folder. If we click, we get the other options. Contributor means that everyone has read access to the folder and they can add their own files to the folder and delete the files they put in if they like. But they can’t change any of the files that were already in the folder. If you click again, the last option is co-owner. This gives full access to the files in the folder. Everyone will have the same access as you do, being the owner of the file, since they’re co-owners, they have the same rights.

Click Share and it’s done.

Windows Vista also gives you the option to e-mail the link of the share to anyone. Just copy so you can past it in. There’s also a link down here to show all the files which you are currently sharing. We’ll click done.

In Vista the share icon looks like just two people instead of hand that we see in XP. That’s how you share files in XP and Vista.

Sharing a printer in XP

Printers are done a very similar way. In Windows XP to share a printer we need to go to start, settings, and printers and faxes. Locate the printer we want to share, right-click on it and go Sharing. Click Share this printer. In order to make it easier to connect to the share across the network we’re going to shorten the name from HPoffice to just HP and click okay. The printer is now shared.

Sharing a printer in Vista 

To share a printer in Windows Vista we need to click Start and do a search for ‘printers’ and we’ll click printers at the top. We’ll locate the printer we want to share, right-click on it and go to Sharing. We need to click ‘change sharing options’, click to ‘share this printer’ and the share name will automatically be filled in as the name of the printer. It’s a good idea to shorten this to make it easier to share with other computers. We’ll just call it HP and click okay and shared. It has the Windows, it looks like two people sharing icon.

That’s how to share files and printers in Windows XP and Vista. In the next lesson we’re going to go to each of our computers and share files and printers.