Everything you need to know about Windows Homegroup

HomeGroup is a Microsoft Windows networking feature introduced with Windows 7. HomeGroup provides a method for Windows 7 and newer computers (including Windows 10 systems) to share resources, including printers and various types of files, with each other .

HomeGroup vs. Workgroups and Windows Domains

HomeGroup is a technology independent of Microsoft Windows workgroups and domains. Windows 7 and newer versions support all three methods of organizing devices and resources on computer networks. Compared to workgroups and domains, typical groups:

    • They are optional. Windows computers must belong to a workgroup (often the default WORKGROUP) or domain, but networks are not required to use HomeGroup


    • They are password protected. HomeGroup requires each computer that initially joins the group to provide a matching shared password, while workgroups do not (and network administrators add computers to domains instead of users)


    • Users are not required to have accounts on other computers, unlike workgroups. Instead, home groups use a common system account (named HOMEGROUPUSER$) so that users can connect to any computer in the group transparently, just like domains.


  • Do not configure certain computers as network servers and do not extend beyond a local network, unlike domains. Homegroup computers communicate via P2P (peer-to-peer) networks, similar to workgroups (but using different network protocols).

Create a Windows home group

To create a new Home Group, follow these steps:

  1. Find and open the “HomeGroup” icon from the Windows Control Panel
  2. Double-click this icon to open a wizard titled “Share with other home computers running Windows 7”


  3. Click on the “Create a homegroup” button to go to the next page of the wizard
  4. Select the types of resources on this PC that you want to share with your home group from the available options Pictures, Music, Videos, Documents, and Printers. (These options can be changed later.)
  5. Click Next
  6. Type the automatically generated password (combination of letters and numbers) that appears on the last page of the wizard and click Finish to exit the wizard


By design, a Windows 7 computer does not support creating home groups if you are running Home Basic or Windows 7 Starter Edition. Both of these versions of Windows 7 disable the ability to create home groups (although you can join existing ones). Setting up a home group requires that your home network have at least one computer running a more advanced version of Windows 7, such as Home Premium or Professional.

Home groups also cannot be created from PCs that already belong to a Windows domain.

Join and leave home groups

Home groups are only useful when two or more computers belong to them. To add more Windows 7 computers to a home group, follow these steps from each computer you want to join:

  1. Open the HomeGroup sharing window from inside the Control Panel (steps 1 and 2 above)
  2. Confirm the homegroup name listed is correct and click the ‘Join Now’ button


  3. Select the resources (Pictures, Movies, Videos, Documents, and Printers) on this PC that you want to share with the home group, and click Next


  4. Enter the homegroup password and click Next to complete the process, and click Finish to exit


Computers can also be added to a home group during Windows 7 setup. If the PC is connected to the local network and the operating system discovers a home group during setup, the user is prompted to join that group.

To remove a computer from a homegroup, open the HomeGroup sharing window and click the “Leave Homegroup…” link near the bottom.

A PC can only belong to one homegroup at a time. To join a home group other than the one a PC is currently connected to, first leave the current home group, and then join the new home group by following the procedures described above.

Use of home groups

Windows organizes file resources shared by common groups in a special view within Windows Explorer. To access the shared files of a home group, open Windows Explorer and go to the “Homegroup” section located in the left panel between the “Libraries” and “Computer” sections. Expanding the HomeGroup icon displays a list of devices currently connected to the group, and expanding each device icon takes you to the tree of files and folders that the team is currently sharing (in Documents, Music, Pictures, and Video). ).

Files shared with HomeGroup can be accessed from any member computer as if they were local. However, when the hosting PC is off the network, its files and folders are not available and do not appear in Windows Explorer. By default, HomeGroup shares files with read-only access. There are several options for managing folder sharing and individual file permission settings:

    • To change the categories of resources that are shared, right-click the HomeGroup icon in Windows Explorer and select “Change HomeGroup settings” from this menu


    • To manage the permissions of local files that are shared with the usual group, open the Libraries section in Windows Explorer, navigate to the desired folder or file level, and use the “Share With” button on the toolbar to change the permissions of those specific resources


HomeGroup also automatically adds shared printers to the Devices and Printers section of each computer connected to the group.

Changing the homegroup password

While Windows automatically generates a common group password when the group is first created, an administrator can change the default password to a new one that is easier to remember. This password should also be changed when you want to permanently remove computers from the home group and/or ban individual people.

To change the password of a home group:

  1. From any computer that belongs to the Home Group, open the Home Group sharing window in Control Panel.
  2. Scroll down and click on the “Change your password…” link at the bottom of the window. (The password currently in use can be viewed by clicking the “View or print homegroup password” link.)
  3. Enter the new password, click Next and Finish.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for each homegroup team

To avoid synchronization problems with other computers on the network, Microsoft recommends that you complete this procedure on all devices in the group immediately.

Troubleshooting Home Groups

Although Microsoft has designed HomeGroup to be a reliable service, it may sometimes be necessary to troubleshoot technical issues, either connecting to the home group or sharing resources. Be especially aware of these common problems and technical limitations:

    • Computers that belong to a Windows domain (common for laptops used in a corporate office) cannot share their own files or printers with home groups, although they can join and access the shares of others


  • IPv6 must be running on the local network for HomeGroup to work. (Windows 7 enables IPv6 by default.)
  • PCs may not be able to join a home group if they have a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) enabled. See Microsoft support article 2521416 for more details.

HomeGroup includes an automated troubleshooting utility designed to diagnose specific technical problems in real time. To start this utility:

  1. Open the HomeGroup sharing window from inside Control Panel
  2. Scroll down and click the “Start Home Group Troubleshooter” link at the bottom of this window


Extending home groups to non-Windows computers

HomeGroup is only officially supported on Windows PCs starting with Windows 7. Some tech enthusiasts have developed methods to extend the HomeGroup protocol to work with older versions of Windows or alternative operating systems such as Mac OS X. These Unofficial methods tend to be relatively difficult to configure and have technical limitations.