With an enormous exposure to Windows, you must be familiar with Public folders so far. In Windows7, there are Public folders like Public Music, Public Documents, Public Videos and list continues. Whenever any file or folder is copied into any of this folder, it shares that particular file with people on your network and others too. This sharing is limited to people who can access your Public folders.

Public folders are located in Documents library. You can go to the Document library with click on ‘Start’ and then ‘Documents’. On clicking, Document library will open and on left of it you will see ‘Libraries’. As you click on arrow next to each library like Music, Pictures, Documents and Videos, Public folder for each of them will appear. These folders are categorized depending on their content type such as Public Documents, Public Music, Public Pictures and Public Videos. Public folders do not include anything until someone put files into them.

Content of Public folders will be of your choice completely. Folders or files that you wish to share can be placed in these folders. You can share preferred files like songs, videos just by copying or moving them into Public Music or Public Videos. Go with direct sharing with ‘Share with’ menu if you want to share file with specific people only.

Public folders sharing Vs Direct sharing:

Although it’s easy to share files with Public folders, it is not the only way for sharing. Sharing of any file or folder can be done directly with precise information of recipients. In direct sharing, you can not only choose people to share with but also put a ceiling on their access to your file. Selection of recipients and sharing permission levels for each of them will be in your hand. While in Public folders, you cannot manage such settings. You can either protect all files in them or none of them. Moreover, access to shared documents cannot be limited in Public folders.

Access to Public folders:

Before sharing files with Public folders, you must turn on the Public folder sharing since it is off by default. However, in case of HomeGroup it is not turned off by default. Only local administrators with account and password can access these folders if Public folder sharing is off.  As you turn Public folder sharing on, everyone can access these folders. This feature can be turned on or off by following some easy steps.

  1. First, go to the ‘Control Panel’ by clicking ‘Start’ button. Then search for ‘Network and Sharing Center’ by typing ‘network’ in search box. In ‘Network and Sharing Centre’, you are supposed to click on ‘Change advanced sharing settings’ that is showed on left.
  2. In your network profile you will encounter ‘Public folder sharing’, under which you must select one of options so as to turn Public folder sharing on or off.
  3. Fix altered settings by clicking on ‘Save changes’. You must enter administrator password or confirmation if it is obligatory.

However this is not safe option as it doesn’t serves privacy. This problem can be solved by enabling password-protected sharing.

Password-protected sharing:

With this feature you can control access to Public folders by permitting access to only local administrators. To turn this option on or off, you must carry out some steps.

  1. First step will be same as that of Public folder sharing. Click on ‘Change advanced sharing settings’ under ‘Network and Sharing Centre’.
  2. After this in your network profile, click on ‘Password-protected sharing’. In this select option in order to turn it on or off.
  3. Finally click on ‘Save changes’ to set these changes. Here also you must provide confirmation or administrator password.

Like this, Public folders are handy alternatives for sharing files in Windows7. Process of sharing is straightforward with Public folders.