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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  • James

    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

    • http://www.guidingtech.com Abhijeet Mukherjee

      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

        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?

  • Devendra

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

  • Mohamad

    that was great!

  • Charlie Tuna

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

  • Tjorvi

    Great article, thanks

  • Rob

    Thanks, very helpful.

  • 23

    Thanxxx!

  • Joy

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

    • http://www.techpanache.com/ Ashish Mundhra

      :)
      I am just glad you loved the post. Come back often for more of these awesome tips.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gingercatnz Dean Blackwell

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/dattz Abhishek Saini

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

    • xperia Z

      same case

    • Kool Fire

      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

        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”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aditya.reddi Aditya Reddi

    thanks

  • Adam

    Thank you very much!

  • Jason

    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.

  • aleenkhan

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

  • Nirmal Kumar

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

  • Save

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

  • Sergio Josemar Pavez Vera

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

  • John

    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.

    • Guest

      Someone answer this!! i have the same issue!!!

  • Fanboi

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

  • Rishu Singh

    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.

    • http://www.techpanache.com/ Ashish Mundhra

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

    • YesMen

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

  • David

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

    • http://www.techpanache.com/ Ashish Mundhra

      Please check your computer’s firewall settings.

      • Juge

        Can you explain in more detail what is supposed to be done in firewall settings?

        • http://www.techpanache.com/ Ashish Mundhra

          Sure… Are you using Windows Firewall or any third-party application takes care of it?

          • Robin Ricardo

            I’m having the same problem. I’m using Android 4.3 and Windows 8 firewall.

            • Robin Ricardo

              I used the “scan” button and it found it.

              • Robin Ricardo

                Ok, now the problem is whenI try to open a cbr file, which I have a handler for (Perfect Viewer), it just asks if I want to open is at text, audio, video, or an image. It is none of these.

  • Orwell

    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!!!

  • Jake

    Nicely written article. Thumbs up for the clear explanation.

  • spacker1

    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

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

  • 22374

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

    • http://www.techpanache.com/ Ashish Mundhra

      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.

  • pradipta Senapati

    thanx

  • Raphael

    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??

  • andrew

    thanks very helpful

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001100277704 Fame Unfame

    Thanks man

  • 11ph22il

    It worked! Thanks for the post! :D

  • boom

    thanks man! works great!

  • Traci Guinn

    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.

    • http://www.techpanache.com/ Ashish Mundhra

      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 !!

  • eng Ghamdan

    thank u sir

  • Fogglehorn

    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?

  • Yogesh

    Thanks

  • Gillian

    Thank you so much! It is very very helpful.

  • pirate

    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??

  • Fred Gomes

    Just great. thank you

  • ASUS Nexus

    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 ?

  • Gary Brennan

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

  • ajegeblek

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

  • Arpit

    Thanks Man!!

  • http://www.seoworks.com/ Christopher West

    Awesome stuff! worked perfectly. Thanks mate!

  • dave

    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.

    • dave

      ps i am using sony xperia z ultra works fine.

  • Oguzhan

    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

  • Oguzhan

    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.

  • Deepak Sharma

    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.

  • Mayank Goyal

    videos and audio files not opening