Need to share a file or folder to another device connected to your network? Transferring files between machines requires just a few changes to your computer’s settings. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll show you how to share a folder over your network whether you use Windows or Mac OS.
Here’s how to share a folder on your Windows machine:
Right-click on the folder you want to share.
Select Give Access to > Specific people.
From there, you can choose specific users and their permission level (whether they can read-only or read/write). After making your selection, click Share.
If a user doesn’t appear on the list, type their name into the taskbar and hit Add. You can also share with Everyone.
If you’re in File Explorer, you can also click the Share tab and select users through the same process listed above.
To access your shared folder on other computers on your network, simply look for your computer’s name in the Network section on your other machine. When you choose it, you’ll have a new option to connect to this folder.
Note: previous versions of Windows allowed you to share files with members of your HomeGroup. This function is no longer supported in Windows 10 (Version 1803).
Mac OS X
Sharing a folder on Mac OS X isn’t quite as straightforward as it is with Windows, but it’s still pretty easy to do. Here’s how:
Open System Preferences (click the icon in your Dock or the Apple menu at the top left corner of your screen).
From the System Preferences panel, choose Sharing.
Find the File Sharing option in the far left box of your menu window. Toggle the checkbox on.
Two boxes will appear to the right. The left box will list shared folders, and the right box will list the users that can access them. To add a folder, click the + sign underneath the Shared Folders box. Select the folder you want and press Add.
This folder is now shared, but you’ll also want to check which users can access this folder over the network and what they can do. For example, if you want them to be able to only read the files in the folder but not make any changes, you would choose the “Read Only” option (click the arrows to the right to switch permissions). Whatever you choose, this folder will now be shared across the local network.
To access this new shared folder from another computer, simply open a new Finder window (by press Command + N on your keyboard while in Finder or choosing “New Finder Window” from the File menu). In the bar on the left side of the window will be a section called Shared.
Beneath it will be a list of shared computers. Click on the name of the computer that has the folder you just shared and want to access. After a moment, a list of shared folders will load. Click on the shared folder you want to access. You may be prompted to enter a username and password if you didn’t allow access to “Everyone.”
If you’d like a visual for all of this, we’ve got a video walking you through the steps. Fair warning: the video first went up in 2011, and while the steps and processes are unchanged, the visuals will be a bit different, depending on what system you’re currently running.
This story was originally published in June 2011 and updated in November 2019 with the most current information.