How to set up a Windows 7 HomeGroup

Windows 7

We show you how to take advantage of Windows 7's HomeGroup feature in six simple steps

One of the best new features in Windows 7 is HomeGroup. This feature is designed to make the once difficult task of sharing over a home network more bearable.

Once set up, you'll find sharing documents, photos and music between different machines on your home network is a breeze.

For the purpose of this tutorial, we're assuming you have two Windows 7 machines on a local network at home. You'll need every machine that you want to get access to your homegroup to be running Windows 7; it won't work with Vista or XP machines, and there are no plans to port it to the older operating systems.

Windows 7

Windows 7

Select network type

Select network type

The first thing to is make sure your network type is set to 'home' rather than 'work' or 'public'. Start up the Network and Sharing Center, click your network under the Active Networks heading and then select Home.

Start HomeGroup

Start HomeGroup

Now just type 'homegroup' into the Windows 7 start box and hit Enter. You'll get a dialog telling you there's no homegroup on the network. Click 'Create a homegroup' and choose which types of files you want to share and hit Okay.

Copy the password

Copy the password

After a short pause, a window will appear, in which a password will fade elegantly into view. You'll notice the password is long and random. You can write it down or, preferably, copy and paste it into a new text document.

Change settings

Change settings

Hit Finish and you'll get the option to change the settings of the homegroup you've just created. There's also the option to stream all your media in the old way via Media Player-style sharing - this isn't actually part of the HomeGroup system though.

Join your HomeGroup

Join your HomeGroup

With the homegroup set up, you can join it from any other Windows 7 PC on the network by clicking the HomeGroup entry in the left-hand pane of Explorer windows. The Join HomeGroup dialog will automatically open.

Enter password

Enter password

Enter the password you wrote down when you created the group, select which of the documents you want to share on this computer and that's all there is to it. You can leave the group at any time from HomeGroup settings window.

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