Finding Shared Windows Folders

Access shared folders with other networked PCs

With Microsoft Windows, folders can be shared on a network so that desktops and laptops can access the files in these folders without physical access to the computer where the folders are stored. When a folder of documents or videos is shared, anyone with access can open, edit, save, and possibly delete the files and folders if the permissions allow it.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

How to Find Shared Windows Folders

The easiest way to find a list of network shared folders is to use File Explorer (Windows 10) or Windows Explorer (Windows 8 and Windows 7).

  1. Go to Windows Search and search for "Network" or open Windows File Explorer, go to the Folders pane, and select Network.

    Network icon in the left pane of a Windows Explorer window
  2. Select the computer that has the shared folders you want to browse. In older versions of Windows, open Entire Network and select Microsoft Windows Network to see shares.

  3. Any non-administrative Windows shares that are set on that computer appear in the left pane. If no items are shown, then nothing is shared. Folders that are shown in this window are linked to the shared folders.

The folder contents are the same as on the shared computer. However, the folder paths may differ if the person who shared the data chose a unique share name. For example, the path MYPC\Files\ with double backslashes points to the folder on the MYPC computer, but the actual folder path on that computer is C:\Backup\2018\Files\.

Use the Net Share Command

Use the net command to find the location of file shares, including administrative shares. In Command Prompt, enter the net share command to display the Share name that can be used to access the share plus the Resource, which is the share's true location.

Shares with a dollar sign ($) at the end of the name are the administrative shares, which should not be modified. The root of every hard drive, the print driver folder, and C:\Windows\ are shared by default as administrative shares. You can open administrative shares only through the name+$ syntax with admin credentials, such as MYPC\C$ or MYPC\ADMIN$.

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