How to Create a Windows 7 Home Group
The Windows 7 Home Group feature makes it even easier to create a home network. Not only can you share all of your media such as pictures, music, videos, and even document libraries, but you can also share most of your network devices like printers, scanners and the like across your home network.
Windows Home Groups make your home network more secure, password protecting the network, as well as giving you full control over what you choose to share, and what you choose not to share.
It is important to note, however, that while any computer with any version of Windows 7 can join a Home Group, only computers with Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate can create a Home Group. Computer systems with Windows XP or Vista cannot take advantage of the features offered in Windows 7 Home Groups.
Creating a HomeGroup in Windows 7 Home Premium and above is a fairly simple task.
As soon as you connect to a wired or wireless network, Windows 7 will prompt you to choose a type or location. You can choose between a Home Network, Work Network, or Public Network. In this case, we want to choose a Home Network.
After choosing Home Network, you will be prompted to choose what you would like to share within the network. You can choose whether or not to share your Pictures, Music, Videos, Documents, and Printers. These are linked to your Windows 7 Libraries.
After you make your selections, you will be able to update them at any time through the Change HomeGroup Settings page:
Once you decide what items you would like to share, you will be given a HomeGroup password. You can either write it down for safe keeping, or use the Print password and instructions link in the Create a HomeGroup window to print it out. You’ll want to keep this somewhere safe yet handy, as you’ll need it when connecting other Windows 7 based computers to your Home Network.
That’s it! You have created a HomeGroup for your Home Network and have chosen what files you would like to be shared across the network.
Joining a Home Group in Windows 7 has been made into a simple process.
First you’ll want to open up Network and Internet from within your Control Panel and choose the Network and Sharing Center. You’ll see your internet connectivity, active networks, and a range of network settings. You’ll notice on the right side of the window you have a HomeGroup link written as Available to Join. Click on this link to start the dialog to join your newly created HomeGroup.
The first screen you’ll see will list the available HomeGroups that you can join. This screen also tells you the name of the computer which created the HomeGroup. For example, you may see the text Mike’s Computer has created a home group on your network. If you’re sure this is the HomeGroup you want to join, you can continue by clicking Join now.
The next dialog you’ll see is a security dialog asking for your HomeGroup password. Don’t worry, if you forgot to write it down, you can still access or change your HomeGroup password as long as you have access to the computer that created the HomeGroup in the first place. Just head over to your HomeGroup options and choose View or print the HomeGroup password or Change the password … Now that you have your password, type it into the dialog box and click Join now.
This screen should look familiar, it’s the same one you saw when creating the HomeGroup. Here you can choose whether or not to share your Pictures, Music, Videos, Documents, and Printers. Once you make your selections click Join now.
You have now successfully joined the HomeGroup! You can repeat these same steps on as many Windows 7 computer systems as you would like to give access to.
Accessing Media, Documents, and Printers on Your Home Group
Windows 7 makes it easy to access media and documents from within your Home Group. Everything is built right in to Windows Explorer. Simply open up a folder, or My Computer and you’ll see your Libraries and Home Group on the left window pane.
Underneath your Home Group folder link, you should see a list of computer systems connected to the Home Group, and along with them, folder links to their shared Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. Likewise, it’s just as easy to share printers and other devices across your HomeGroup.
Just navigate to your Control Panel, go to your Devices and Printers window found within the Hardware and Sound category.
You’ll be able to view any printers, faxes, storage devices and anything else that is shared by anyone on your HomeGroup; drivers will even be automatically installed if needed to get them working with your machine.
Configuring Your Windows 7 Home Group
While most options within Windows HomeGroup are aimed towards being as simple as possible, there are still some useful advanced features on the back end.
Visit your Control Panel, choose Network and Internet and select Home Group. This is where you will be able to look up your HomeGroup password. However, if you look closely, there is also a link here to Change advanced sharing settings … Here you will be able to change a host of features for Home/Work and Public HomeGroups including network discovery, file and printer sharing, public folder sharing, media streaming, file sharing connection encryption, password protected sharing, and more.
Try Windows 7 HomeGroup Yourself!
I hope this article has helped you learn a bit more about setting up your own home network in Windows 7 using HomeGroups. This is just one more feature Windows 7 has come up with to help make your home and work life a little bit easier, and safer.
New Video: How to Create a Windows 7 Home Group
This 8 minute video by instructor Bill Kulterman, will show you step-by-step the process for setting up a Windows 7 Home Group. Check it out: Video: How to Create a Windows 7 Home Group.