Turn on network discovery & file sharing in Windows 11

Network Discovery in Windows OS is a feature which allows Windows computers to find and discover other computers and devices on a network. Basically it enables computers on the same network to find each other. File sharing feature in Windows operating system will allow other computers or devices to access the files, folders you shared from this particular computer. In this post, we will show you the quick steps to turn on Network Discovery and File Sharing option in Windows 11.

On your computer which is running on Windows 11, click the Start button from the bottom, select Settings to open the System Settings in a new window. Click Network & internet from the left category. The connected Ethernet or Wi-Fi network will be displayed at the upper section on the right pane.

Windows 11 system settings - network & internet

Click Properties to open and view the network properties. Under Network profile type section, you can see:

Two different network profile types: Public and Private.

Windows 11 network & internet settings - network profile type

Guest or Public

Your device is not discoverable on the network. Use this in most cases-when connected to a network at home, work, or in a public place.

Your screen may look slightly different depending on the version and build of your operating system. For security reasons, for Guest or Public network profile you should turn off network discovery as well as file and print sharing, on this profile because you don’t want hackers to easily access resources on your Windows computer. We’ll show you how to turn on/off network discovery, file and print sharing below.

Private

Your device is discoverable on the network. Select this if you need file sharing or use apps that communicate over this network. You should know and trust the people and devices on the network.

When you connect to a network on Windows, it will automatically detect whether the connected network is public or private and applies appropriate settings. For instance, a public network hides your system from other devices and blocks files and printer sharing.

When Windows is not able to detect the network, it will ask you to choose a network type and then apply the network settings accordingly. Meanwhile if Windows chose the wrong network profile, you can manually change it from public to private or vice versa.

If you need to share files stored on your Windows PC with other computers, mobile phones, tablets, and other devices in the same network, set the profile type to be Private and the Network Discovery should be enabled.

Enable File Sharing in Windows 11

Once Network Discovery has been enabled, sharing files and printers over a network becomes easier.

Windows 11 has a centralised location for majority of its settings. However, network discovery and file sharing are still done in the old Control Panel. In the System Settings pane, you can quickly search for ‘advanced sharing settings’, then the Manage advanced sharing settings should pop up. Or you can do a search from the Windows search bar from the main menu bar at the bottom to quickly access this setting in the classic Windows control panel.

The Advanced sharing settings opens in a new window, you can change sharing options for different network profiles here. Select the Private network profile and turn on or off file and printer sharing.

Windows 11 network & internet advanced sharing settings for private network profile - network discovery, file sharing, printer sharing

Select the Guest or Public network profile, as mentioned earlier, generally speaking you may want to turn off file and printer sharing for this profile.

Windows 11 network & internet advanced sharing settings for guest or  public network profile - network discovery, file sharing, printer sharing

On the same Advance sharing settings page, scroll down to All networks. You should see settings for Public folder sharing, Media streaming, File sharing connections and Password protected sharing. There you can control how other devices or people with network access can access your files in the Public folders on your Windows PC.

windows 11 system settings - advanced sharing settings for all networks

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