How to Turn On or Off Network Discovery in Windows 10

Enable network discovery to help connect to other computers

What to Know

  • Toggle on/off: Network & Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Change advanced sharing settings in Windows 10 Settings app.
  • Windows 10 network discovery settings can make your computer visible or invisible to other devices.
  • These same settings also make other devices discoverable by your computer.

This article explains how to enable network discovery on a Windows 10 desktop computer, laptop, or a two-in-one device such as a Microsoft Surface. You can also use these instructions to check whether network discovery is on or off or if you suspect some settings have recently changed.

How to Disable or Enable Windows 10 Network Discovery

The Windows 10 network discovery settings can be turned on or off wherever and whenever you like as many times as you like. Here’s how to find the Windows 10 network discovery settings and use them to make your device invisible or visible to other networked computers.

  1. Open the Windows 10 Action Center from the lower-right corner of the screen and click Expand.

    Windows 10 desktop with Action Center open.
  2. Select Network.

    Selecting Network in the Action Center.
  3. Select Network & Internet settings.

    Selecting Network and Internet settings in Windows 10.
  4. Scroll down a bit and click Network and Sharing Center.

    Network settings in Windows 10.
  5. The Windows 10 Control Panel should now open up with a variety of options for network security. Click Change advanced sharing settings from the left menu.

    Windows 10 Control Panel network settings.
  6. Ensure the Turn on network discovery is checked if you want to enable network discovery on your Windows 10 device. If you want to disable network discovery, click the dot next to Turn off network discovery.

    Windows 10 network discovery settings.

    While here, you can also turn on or off file and printer sharing as well.

  7. When you’re ready, click Save changes and close the Control Panel and Settings windows. 

    Windows 10 Control Panel network discovery settings.

What Does Windows 10 Network Discovery Mean?

Network discovery refers to your Windows 10 computer’s ability to connect with other nearby devices and also be found by them. 

To turn on or enable network discovery Windows 10 settings means to make your device discoverable and connectable. Turning off or disabling these settings essentially protects your computer or laptop from other nearby devices by making it invisible.

If you want to work offline, you don’t need to change the Windows 10 network discovery settings at all. All you need to do in this case is turn off your Windows 10 device’s Wi-Fi or turn on its Flight mode.

Usually, you don’t need to worry about turning on network discovery because Windows 10 will automatically switch between the two settings depending on your type of connection and the level of available security on the network. Checking these settings can be helpful if you’re trying to connect to another device and can’t see it as an available connection option, though. They can also be worth checking if someone else can’t find your device, like when trying to connect a Microsoft Surface to a computer.

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