How to Find Shared Windows Folders

Access Shared Folders With Other Networked PCs

Magnifying Glass Icon White
saemilee/Getty Images

With Microsoft Windows, files and folders can be shared on a network, allowing desktops and laptops to access the information without needing physical access to the computer.

For example, a user might share a whole folder of documents or videos, and anyone else with access could open those files, edit, and save them—possibly even delete them if the permissions allow it.

How to Find Shared Folders in Windows

The easiest way to find a list of network shares is to use Windows Explorer to view them alongside other local files:

  1. Search for Network in the Start menu or find it in the left pane of Windows Explorer. (In Windows XP, go to Start > My Computer and then click My Network Places in the left pane.)

  2. Open the computer that has the shared folders you want to browse. In some older versions of Windows, you might have to open Entire Network and then Microsoft Windows Network before you can see any 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 being shared. Folders that are shown in this window are linked to the shared folders. Opening any of these shares reveals the contents of the actual folder. However, while the folder contents are the same as on the shared computer, the folder paths may differ if the person who shared the data chose a unique share name. For example, the path MYPC\Files\ with trailing double backslashes shows the Files folder on the MYPC computer, but the actual folder path on that computer might be C:\Backup\2007\Files\.

Using the Net Share Command

Use the net command to find the actual location of file shares, including administrative shares, by entering the net share command into Command Prompt. You can see 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$.