How To Access Shared Windows Folders on Your Android Phone

This guide will show you just how easy it is to access your Windows shared folders on your Android phone or tablet. You can easily listen to music, stream a video, or copy a file from your Windows (or indeed any SMB) shared folders in just a few simple steps. Effectively, this will not only save you internal storage space, but also allow you to continue relaxing on the couch rather than having to get up and go to your room to copy across whatever it is that you want to watch or listen to.

Note: This tutorial is for Windows users. For Linux users, you can check out the tutorial here.

First of all, we need to ensure your Windows system is properly configured for file sharing.

1. Open up explorer and browse to the folder you wish to share. Right click on the folder and click on “Properties”. In User Properties, select the “Sharing” tab and click the “Share…” button.

How To Share A Folder in Windows

Folder Sharing Properties

2. The File Sharing page requires you to select the users or groups you wish to share the folder with. The simplest solution is to type “Everyone” in the text box and select “Add”. Keep in mind this will grant anyone on your network access to that share folder, so if you wanted things to be secure you could type in your username instead (you will need to have a password set for this to work properly).

Select Users to Share WIth

Note: The default settings when sharing folders is “Read” permissions only. If you want the ability to copy files from your Android to your shared folder, you can amend the Permission Level to Read/Write.

3. Click “Share” to continue.

4. We then need to modify anonymous sharing permissions. To do this, go to the Network and Sharing Center by clicking on “Start -> Control Panel -> Network Internet -> Network and Sharing Center”. Select “Change advanced sharing settings” on the left side of the page.

change-advanced-sharing-settings

5. The Password protected sharing page appears and “Turn on password protected sharing” is selected by default. If you opted to share with Everyone in Step 2, then you would want to turn this off. However, if you are worried about security and opted to share only with specific usernames, then you could leave this setting on. Be sure to set a password for your username, however, or you will be unable to connect.

Turn Off Password Protected Sharing

For the rest of the guide it is important we know what your PC’s IP address is, so please complete the following steps if you are unsure.

1. Open a command prompt.

2. In the Command Prompt, type

ipconfig

and your IP address will be shown as part of the list of information. It should either be listed in a section called “Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection” or “Wireless adapter Local Area Connection” and will probably be something like 192.168.1.5.

There are of course a number of applications on the market that you can configure to access shared folders on your Android device. For this how-to guide, we have used ES File Explorer as it is free, is known to work well with windows file sharing, and is compatible with devices that have Android version 1.6 and above installed.

To configure ES File Explorer for file sharing, perform the following steps:

1. Install ES File Explorer. Run it when the installation is finished.

2. The home screen appears which displays all the files and folders on your SD card. At the very top left you will see a little dropdown box that says “Local”. Click on this and a dialogue box appears, in which you need to select the “LAN” option.

ES File Explorer LAN Option

Note: Your Android device and Computer must be connected to the same network to be able to access your PC. This means turning WiFi on on your Android device

5. Now that you are in the LAN section, select “New” from the toolbar at the top and you are shown two options – “Scan” and “Server”. You can utilise either, and both options are detailed below:

ES File Explorer LAN Options Scan Server

Select “Scan” to search for PCs on your network that have shared folders. It is important to know your PC’s IP address for this step. Once your computer shows up, you can cease the scan process by tapping the screen once. Select your computer and if you chose to turn off password-protected file sharing, it should automatically connect. If not, you may be prompted with the following screen:

es-file-explorer-username-password

In this case, you will need to type the username and password in of the specific account you shared the folder with on your PC.

Select “Server” if you want to enter your computer’s IP address manually.

The “New/Edit Samba Server” page will display. The completion of this page depends on whether you chose to have password protected sharing enabled on your computer.

a) If you chose to “Turn on password protected sharing:” type in your computer’s IP address, enter your Windows login username and password details and put in Display name (as shown in the example below). Do not tick the anonymous option.

es-file-explorer-new-samba-server

b) If you selected “Turn off password protected sharing:”, type in your computer’s IP address,  tick the anonymous option and put in a Display name (as shown in the example below).

es-file-explorer-new-samba-server-anonymous

After you have completed either the “Scan” or “Server” option procedure, your shared files/folders will be listed in the LAN screen.

Browse to your specified shared folder and select a video to play. It should stream on your Android device. In my case, I found that the in-built player on my Samsung Galaxy Note had a lot of trouble with the avi files I threw at it. ES File Explorer is flexible enough to prompt you, asking which video player you would like to use. So I instaleld the VideoLAN client, and sure enough this fixed the problem and videos played without a glitch. Music and images worked fine with the built-in applications.

That’s it.

Image credit: Cloud Concept Icon by Big Stock Photo.