Enable or Disable File and Printer Sharing in Windows

Configure File/Printer Sharing Settings in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP

Close-Up Of On And Off Switch
Georgios Spyropoulos / EyeEm / Getty Images
Was this page helpful?

Since Windows 95, Microsoft has supported file and printer sharing. This networking feature is particularly useful on home networks but can be a security concern on public networks.

Below are instructions for enabling the feature if you wish to share files and printer access with your network, but you can also follow along to disable file and printer sharing if that concerns you.

The steps for enabling or disabling file and printer sharing are slightly different for Windows 10/8/7, Windows Vista and Windows XP, so pay close attention to the differences when they're called out.

Enable/Disable File and Printer Sharing in Windows 7, 8 and 10

  1. Open Control Panel. The quickest method is to open the Run dialog box with the Win+R keyboard combination and enter the command control.
  2. Choose Network and the Internet if you're viewing the categories in Control Panel, or skip down to Step 3 if you just see a bunch of Control Panel applet icons.
  3. Open Network and Sharing Center.
  4. From the left pane, choose Change advanced sharing settings.
  5. Listed here are the different networks you're using. If you want to disable file and printer sharing on the public network, open that section. Otherwise, choose a different one.
  6. Find the File and Printer Sharing section of that network profile and adjust the option, selecting either Turn on file and printer sharing or Turn off file and printer sharing.
    Some other sharing options might be available here too, depending on your version of Windows. These might include options for public folder sharing, network discovery, HomeGroup and file sharing encryption.
  1. Choose Save changes.

Tip: The above steps let you have a finer control over file and printer sharing but you can also enable or disable the feature through Control Panel\Network and Internet\Network Connections. Right-click the network connection and go into Properties and then the Networking tab. Check or uncheck File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks.

Turn On or Off File and Printer Sharing in Windows Vista and XP

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Choose Network and the Internet (Vista) or Network and Internet Connections (XP) if you're in category view or skip down to Step 3 if you see the Control Panel applet icons.
  3. In Windows Vista, choose Network and Sharing Center.
    In Windows XP, choose Network Connections and then skip down to Step 5.
  4. From the left pane, choose Manage network connections.
  5. Right-click the connection that should have printer and file sharing turned on or off, and select Properties.
  6. In the Networking (Vista) or General (XP) tab of the connection's properties, check or uncheck the box next to File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks.
  7. Click OK to save the changes.