How to Access Shared Windows Folders On Android Over WiFi

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While talking about the AirDroid for Android the other day, we discussed how you can use the application to manage your phone’s data and files from your PC using a WiFi connection. But what if you want it the other way? What if you wanted to access a folder on your Windows PC on your phone and edit the files present in it?

access-shared-windows-folders-on-android

Of course using an online backup tool is an option but you might not want to put a folder there just because of the purpose of sharing on your phone. You should be able to access it directly through WiFi, right?

You all probably know about file sharing in Windows and how it can be used to work on files hosted on different computers using a network connection (LAN or WiFi). Today we will see to use the same principle of file sharing and access files shared on your Windows PC on your Android.

Let me first show you how you can share a particular folder on Windows. And then we will move to the Android part of the process.

Sharing folders on Windows 7

Step 1: Right-click on the folder you want to share on your Windows and click on Properties to open the folder properties. Navigate to the Sharing tab and click on the Share button to open the File Sharing window.

sharing

Step 2: On the File Sharing window, you will be asked to enter the name of the group you want to share the folder with. Write Everyone and click on the Add button. You may give Read or Read/Write permission to the share access depending on your needs. Once you are done, click on the Share button.

file sharing

Step 3: Now you can opt for two types of sharing, either password protected or open. If you are on a secure home network, I would recommend you go for the open file sharing as it makes things a bit easier. But if you are on an unsecured WiFi network, you must go for the password protected sharing.

To change these settings, navigate to Control Panel —> Network and Sharing Center. Here click on the link Change advanced settings  on the left hand sidebar to open Advance sharing settings. Scroll down to the end of the page to find the Password protected sharing option, choose a password and save the settings.

change advance settings

password protection

Cool Tip: To see list of all the folders you have shared on your computer, right click on the Computer icon in the start menu and click on Manage. Having done that, click on the Shared Folders—>Shares to list all the folders shared on your computer.

computer management

You may share any number of folders you want to access on your Android.

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So that was all we needed on the Windows side of the equation. Now let us configure settings on the Android.

Accessing Shared Folders on Android

Step 1: Download and install ES File Explorer on your Android device. It’s an amazing and one of the most acclaimed file managers for Android. It works on all the devices running on Android version 1.6 and above. One of the features of ES File Explorer is that it allows you to access your Home PC on WiFI via Server Message Block (SMB).

Step 2: Once you have downloaded the app, launch it. The home screen will display all the files and folders that are on your SD card. Swipe your finger to the left on the screen to move to navigate to the right to the LAN share screen. Also make sure both your computer and your Android phones are connected to the same network.

ES File Explorer for Android 1

Step 3: Touch the button New  on the top bar to add a new server (your computer in this case).

ES File Explorer (2)ES File Explorer (1)

Step 4: Here leave the Domain field empty and do one of the following tasks depending upon your sharing security.

a) If you have opted for non-password protected sharing, enter the IP address of your computer (use the command ipconfig on the command prompt of your computer to know your IP) and check the anonymous option. Give your server an alias to identify if (it’s useful when you are using the app to access shared folders on different computer) and press the OK button to add the server.

ES File Explorer for Androides file explorer

b) For those who have enabled the password protected sharing option, do not check the anonymous option, instead provide the username and password you use to login to Windows and add the server.

2012-04-20_14-37-22ES File Explorer for Android

ES File Explorer for Android

That’s all, you can now browse through all the files and folders that are shared on the computer on your Android. That’s not all, depending upon the type of sharing privileges you have granted on Windows, you can do tasks such as:

  • Viewing images and streaming live video. Though in the past, we have covered a dedicated app for this, I prefer ES File Explorer now because it’s ad-free and smooth.
  • Open and edit text files, documents and save the changes directly without downloading the files on your phone.
  • Copy a file from your computer to your phone easily. You can also modify and delete the files on your computer from your Android.
  • You can view almost all the files on your Android provided you have a supported viewer for the specific file type.
  • If you have write access to the shared folder on Windows, you can copy files and folders from Android to computer as well.

Video

Here’s our video on this entire process. Watch it to learn exactly how it is done.

My Verdict

This feature of ES File Explorer has made me fall in love with it. Now I can work on my computer while roaming in the house or while having a cup of coffee on the balcony… I just need the phone. So do try it out and mobilize your work.

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Show archived comments (89)

Archived Comments

  1. James says:

    Do you know of a way to do the inverse – Access a share on the device from a Windows 7 laptop? I found Samba Server, but it requries a rooted phone. Cheers

    • Thanks James for mentioning Samba Server. It’s a cool tool and we are going to have an article on that today. But about your question, we’ll try to find out but I highly doubt if such an app will be available for a non-rooted phone because it’ll require certain privileges to make it work. We’ll keep looking though. :)

      • tim says:

        You can use es file explorer to set up a ftp server on your phone or tab. The option is burried in the settings somewhere, don’t remember off hand. Haven’t tried it myself, yet. Not sure if you need root, mine isn’t.
        What i’m interested in knowing, is if i can download files from to web straight to my shared folder, without saving them on my tab first?

  2. Devendra says:

    Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Mohamad says:

    that was great!

  4. Charlie Tuna says:

    Thanks for the detailed article. I was looking for something exactly like this.

  5. Tjorvi says:

    Great article, thanks

  6. Rob says:

    Thanks, very helpful.

  7. 23 says:

    Thanxxx!

  8. Joy says:

    Ashish, do you know that you are an Angel…?

  9. Thanks for the info about ES File Explorer – I have tried a few others but this one is SO easy to use.

  10. Any Idea? Every folder I share is shown on the device but is empty…

    • xperia Z says:

      same case

    • Kool Fire says:

      in folder sharing setting add “everyone”, ur problem ll solve

      for me its working perfect, I’m using windows 8 & Android 4.0.4

      • Robert says:

        All is correct. In Windows 8 you need to enter into the “Advanced Settings”, click in “Share this folder”, and in the “Prmissions” lab, you need to place all permissions for “Everyone”.

        • BarleySinger says:

          However in WIN7 PRO 64, with later versions of the DROID OS (4.2), this does not work reliably. Some PCs will have viewable shares and some will not and there seems to be no logic about which machines will have usable shares and which will not. No viable work around that is dependable has yet to be found.

  11. Aditya Reddi says:

    thanks

  12. Adam says:

    Thank you very much!

  13. Jason says:

    I did this on my windows 7 machine, and it works perfect! Now I don’t have to copy files from my HDD to my Tablet. You can stream media anywhere in your home network! I recommend MX Player for Android to stream movies and TV.

  14. aleenkhan says:

    Excellent apps. no need for a rooted device, I tried and tested successfully on Penta i709c Tab

  15. Nirmal Kumar says:

    Thanks for the tips. It worked for me. I was able to access my files on my PC with my android tablet.

  16. Save says:

    Thank you have been looking for how to do this. now watching my video on my homeserver on my android tablet

  17. Sergio Josemar Pavez Vera says:

    Wow, great guide, easy to follow and with the result that I wanted.

  18. John says:

    In Step 4 I tried SCAN and it found all my shares with zero setup. This was too easy!! All my CCNA training is slowly becoming useless.

  19. Fanboi says:

    HTC Sync Manager does all the file browsing you will require…

  20. Rishu Singh says:

    I am always getting an error that is cannot find the server. I am using sony tippo dual and windows 7 along with this I am using connectify to connect my mobile with laptop.

    • @fff86a6076cff4f14547cddcb03427b4:disqus Please check your computer’s firewall settings.

    • YesMen says:

      Open Start Menu > type “advanced” > click on “Manage advanced sharing settings”. Make sure Network Discovery is turned on, this solved this issue for me.

  21. David says:

    I get ‘error, cannot find server’. Is it the Ipv4 address from ipconfig i”m meant to be using?

  22. Orwell says:

    Nice and simple, well written and above all it works! Trying to find the same thing for iPAD and found this for my Droid v. pleased indeed. Good job!!!

  23. Jake says:

    Nicely written article. Thumbs up for the clear explanation.

  24. spacker1 says:

    The easiest way to access your PC from Android over wifi would be using Air Stream https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nityaalabs.airstream

    • Ingrid Kuneyl says:

      Perfect! Air Stream is much more simple and easy to use. Thanks for the tip!

  25. 22374 says:

    Is this file sharing only limited for music, picture n movie only. Can we run other program from android, eg: ms word, excel, photoshop.

    • One can open any file type if a supported file handling app is installed on Android. For eg. a PDF or DOC file can be viewed if document viewer app like
      ThinkFree Office is installed.

  26. pradipta Senapati says:

    thanx

  27. Raphael says:

    I install the ES File explorer on Samsung Galaxy note 10.1 (Android V4), After server set up, I can access file from the server, but after I made change on the file (Excel), it only save to local cache. I re open the file by click it at the server side, it open the local SDcard cache file only. Are there any step additional to the above to make it work on save the changes file direct to the server folder. Is there problem on Android of the Samsung Galaxy note??

  28. andrew says:

    thanks very helpful

  29. Fame Unfame says:

    Thanks man

  30. 11ph22il says:

    It worked! Thanks for the post! 😀

  31. boom says:

    thanks man! works great!

  32. Traci Guinn says:

    If Im away from my laptop its off. Does it constantly have to be on for this to work?? It would be a dream come for this die .hard energy conservationist if that isnt the case.

    • Yes! Here’s what you can do..
      In the Windows Power Settings, adjust the settings so that your screen goes off after 10 mins of inactivity. Screen is what takes the most when your computer is ideal. Rest all is just peanuts !!

  33. eng Ghamdan says:

    thank u sir

  34. Fogglehorn says:

    Thank you so much. After following your clear instructions I am now able to access files on my Windows devices :)

    The only problem I have is I am unable to edit documents on Windows. When I open a document it get cached to my Android device and am unable to save it to the Windows device. Is there something else I have to do please?

  35. Yogesh says:

    Thanks

  36. Gillian says:

    Thank you so much! It is very very helpful.

  37. pirate says:

    Bro I love this very much its a easy way to get files on mobile bt I wanna ask u one question that is…I dont have a internet connection in my home so I use andriod hotsopt to connect both devices on same network n then I can connect both easily.. … bt when I share files on pc I have to share to everyone is it anyway that only I can see files in my mobile not others??

  38. Fred Gomes says:

    Just great. thank you

  39. ASUS Nexus says:

    1) Does it work also with Windows XP computers. Please step by step example.
    2) Is it really peer to peer connection and no need for AP router ?

  40. Gary Brennan says:

    im getting “this account has no permissions” despite all being fully shared ?

  41. ajegeblek says:

    damn, as easy as taking candies from kids. it even works in WinXP

  42. Arpit says:

    Thanks Man!!

  43. Awesome stuff! worked perfectly. Thanks mate!

  44. dave says:

    nice app but what i would like to see in this app is to connect to my pc on wan ip address. so i can use it while i am not at home. i am looking for a app that’s able to do that. in my opinion this app is almost complete.

  45. Oguzhan says:

    Couldnt share it win7 64 bit with nexus 7 . program works under lan and found my computers ip adress ,I shared folder to everyone , windows firewall closed.

    Opening account error
    possible reasons
    -wireless closed
    -smb server is out of lan
    -ip is wrong
    -firewall may block
    -smb service is closed

    • BarleySinger says:

      – a very well SCREAMED about bug, whcih I have no idea how to fix. I have it myself on one DROID with only 1 desktop machine. The phone OS (earlier than Android OS 4.2) sees all shares fine. The tablet sees only the laptop shares. I really dislike the fact that Android has about 2/3rds of a fully functional network system. You should not have to root your machine & use 3rd party software just to change the hostname of your droid, It’s stupid (and it is the same for apple tablets and phones).

  46. Oguzhan says:

    Couldnt share it win7 64 bit with nexus 7 . program works under lan and found my computers ip adress ,I shared folder to everyone , windows firewall closed.

    Opening account error
    possible reasons
    -wireless closed
    -smb server is out of lan
    -ip is wrong
    -firewall may block
    -smb service is closed

    it is as below in my language.

    • BarleySinger says:

      As I said in other replies, this is a well known annoying issue. It act erratic, and there does not see to be a single reliable solution.

  47. Deepak Sharma says:

    i can connect through laptop but not with desktop.laptop connects through Wi-Fi and desktop connects via wire from modem.its a D-Link 2730U router.

  48. Mayank Goyal says:

    videos and audio files not opening

  49. fatz2fly says:

    The IP address for each PC on my network is assigned each time a pc is powered on. I can’t put in a specific IP address because it constantly changes. Is there a way I can log onto the entire network of four Windows 7 PCs?

    • BarleySinger says:

      Unfortunately the DROID operating system has a half-assed version of networking. You will need to constantly use “scan” in an app like “ES File Explorer” to know the name of your machines (or look up their IP addresses). In fact at this point *NO* tablet OS fully honors any of the desktop networks, which is driving BUSINESSES that want to use tablet, crazy.

  50. Ti Strga says:

    Everything else on the local net can see these windows shares, but none of the apps I install can even talk to the server. I’m going to end up installing dropbox on my android phone just to get files off the damn thing. :-(

  51. lio says:

    hi bro, its 1000% helpfull for me its working perfectly thanks

  52. rishikesh gawade says:

    Was looking for this! Thanks!

  53. snake140589 says:

    Hi, first of all, thanks for the tutorial, but in my cause I only had to do a couple of clicks haha. So my question is, I was testing the app called “software data cable” but it hasn’t the same features than this one, but in that app you can share data up to 50mbs/s, but I’m having slow speed with this app, it take a little while what it would has to be a couple of minutes or less. Anyone know if this is normal?

  54. Hendrik says:

    Thank you, great share.

  55. Pukhraj says:

    Hello,
    Plz tell, how to access andorid folders in windows
    when both are on same network.

  56. Jake Thomas says:

    Thanks so much, I followed the step by step, and I can stream my movies with no plugging required.
    CyberPowerPC Desktop to Verizon Motorola Droid Maxx, 4.4.5 no root.

  57. Geet says:

    Thanks for the article.

  58. BarleySinger says:

    For millions of people using Android os 4.2, this won’t work. You can use “ES File Explorer” and “scan” the network for PCs and they will pop up on your DROID. But when you try and open them to get at the shares, you get an error message. I have yet (among dozens of ‘so called’ solutions) to find a work around that really works. It is not a problem in earlier versions of OS 4 (like on our phone, which can see all our shares just fine). We have a tablet which cannot see the shares on only ONE PC, which has exactly the same OS and security setup as the laptop does (the tablet can see the laptop shares)…. so to move files, you have to do a file copy relay race and hand off the files form one machine to another. ANNOYING.

  59. Loman says:

    Yes. I’ve been using it like this for forever now.
    What I want now is an app that allows me to browse my phone from my PC over wifi.

  60. MasterC says:

    I have an emulator front end running on my Android device, and want to keep all my ROMS on my PC (Server box with Hard Drives in it).

    So I share the correct folder, but how can I access the shared folder from ANOTHER app, not just ES File Explorer

    Thanks

  61. Kitwn says:

    I’ve just managed to fix the ‘account has no permissions’ problem on my W7 64 bit PC. Under ‘properties’, as well as setting the ‘sharing’ properties I also had to go into the ‘security’ tab and add ‘Everyone’ as a user for the folders I want to share.
    This has to be done for each individual folder, even if the containing folder, or hard drive, has already been set.

  62. Aniruddha Mishra says:

    Here is a great alternative to Airdroid, I am using this app airstream which lets you do all this hassle free. Download it from here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nityaalabs.airstream

  63. farid ansari says:

    Hi! Great and v easy to understand instructions. Another good app is X-plorer.
    However, any idea how can the same be achieved by using Android’s native File Manager? I am MORE interested in accessing a network drive mounted on the USB port on my ADSL-WiFi combo modem-router.

    • Hi Farid

      The trick is not possible using the native file explorer on Android. About your second question, I am not able to understand what exactly you would like to do.