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How to Navigate Windows and Folders in Windows 7

Connecting to Network Resources

If your computer is connected to a work network or to a home network, you might want to access folders that are located on other computers on the network.

Navigating to a Shared Folder

In Chapter 3, “Manage Your Network” you learned how to share files, folders, and drives with other people on your network, either by sharing them with homegroup members (computers), if your computer is part of a homegroup, or by sharing them with all or selected network users (people). You also learned about sharing files by placing them in public folders, and how to control whether public folders are visible to other network computers.

If your computer is connected to a network, you can use Windows Explorer to navigate not only to drives and resources on your own computer, but also to drives and resources across your entire network.

You can view files, folders, and drives that other network users have shared with you in the same way that you view information on your own computer. Open the Computer window and then, in the Navigation pane, click the Network group. The Network window shows all the computers that are currently available through the network that your computer is connected to.

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The Network window.

Navigate to shared resources on the computers by expanding the Network group computers and their folders in the Navigation pane, or by double-clicking computers and folders in the Content pane.

Mapping a Network Drive

If you want to access a specific network drive or folder on a regular basis—for example, if you frequently connect to a shared external hard drive—you can map the drive in Windows Explorer to make it more easily available. When you map a drive, you assign it a local drive letter so that it appears along with other available storage devices and locations when you view the contents of your computer. You can map a drive for the duration of the current computing session, or instruct Windows to reconnect to that drive every time you log on.

To map a drive:

  1. On the Start menu, click Computer.

  2. On the Computer window toolbar, click Map A Network Drive.

    The Map Network Drive wizard starts.

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    If you haven’t previously mapped a drive, the wizard suggests “Z” as the drive letter for the drive you’re mapping.

  3. If you want to change the letter that represents the mapped drive when viewing your computer contents, click the Drive list, and then click the letter you want.

  4. If you know the UNC path to the drive or folder you want to map, type it in the Folder box, and then skip to step 8.

  5. To browse to the drive or folder you want to map, click the Browse button.

    The Browse For Folder dialog box opens, displaying a list of the computers that are available on your network.

  6. Click the white arrow to the left of a computer name to display a list of shared folders on that computer.

    If a computer doesn’t have any shared resources, the arrow disappears; otherwise, the arrow color changes to black to indicate that the computer folder is expanded. You can hide the content list for any folder by clicking its black arrow.

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    If public folder sharing is turned on for a computer, its Public folder appears in the shared folder list.

  7. Click the computer that hosts the folder you want to map a drive to. If necessary, expand the shared folder to display its subfolders. When the folder you want to map to is selected, click OK.

    The UNC path to the folder appears in the Folder box.

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    You select the drive letter that will represent the shared folder’s connection to your computer.

  8. If you want to connect to the mapped drive only until the end of the current Windows session, clear the Reconnect At Logon check box.

  9. If the user account you log on to your computer with doesn’t match the user account you need to log on to the computer hosting the shared folder, select the Connect Using Different Credentials check box.

  10. In the Map Network Drive window, click Finish.

    Windows connects to the shared folder and opens it in a folder window.

  11. In the Navigation pane of the folder window, click Computer.

    The mapped drive appears in the Network Location area of the Computer folder window.

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The mapped drive also appears when you expand the Computer group in the Navigation pane.

To remove a mapped drive, right-click the drive in the Computer window, and then click Disconnect.