In Windows 10/11, you can access devices on your local network through File Explorer or Windows PowerShell. By connecting computers on the same network, you can share printers, files, and applications. This tutorial demonstrates how to easily view devices on your network in Windows. It also discusses how to troubleshoot in case the instructions are not working for you.
Find Computers on the Same Network with File Explorer
File Explorer is the simplest method of the two outlined in this tutorial. Just follow the steps below:
- On your PC, click on the “Start” menu and select “File Explorer.” If you can’t find it via the “Start” menu, type it into the search box and press Enter.
- In the menu on the left, select “Network.”
- Wait while your computer gathers a complete list of all other computers on the network. After that, click on each computer to access shared folders and devices.
Tip: don’t want to update your PC right now? Here’s how you can hide unwanted Windows updates using PowerShell.
Find Computers on the Same Network with PowerShell
Another method to view devices on your network involves using the Windows PowerShell command.
- Right-click on the “Start” menu and select “Windows Terminal (Admin).”
- Type the following command and hit Enter to see devices on the network:
Cannot View Network Devices? Enable Windows Network Discovery
Network Discovery is the feature that allows you to connect to several devices on the same network. If you are certain that you are connected to the network but cannot view other devices on the network, the most likely cause is that the Network Discovery feature is disabled on your Windows computer. You can enable it in multiple ways as shown below.
Using File Explorer
- Press the Windows + I keys to open Settings on your computer.
- Select “Network & internet” on the left panel and go to “Ethernet” or “Wi-Fi” on the right panel.
- Select your active network connection.
- Check the “Private” option under the network profile type.
- Open File Explorer and go to Network on the left. You should be able to see your devices.
- However, if you are prompted with the “Network discovery and file sharing are turned off” message, click on it and select the option “No, make the network that I am connected to a private network.”
- Double-click on each available device to access the shared resources.
Trying to get to Control Panel as fast as possible? We have a few shortcuts for you!
Via Control Panel
- Click on the “Start” menu, type “Control Panel,” and hit Enter.
- If the “View by” option in the top-right corner is set to “Category,” select “Network and Internet.” If not, move on to the next step.
- Locate and click on “Network and Sharing Center.”
- Choose “Change advanced sharing settings” from the sidebar.
- Expand the “Private” network profile, then click on the “Turn on network discovery” feature under the “Network discovery” section. Check the “Turn on automatic setup of network connected devices” option.
- Select the “Turn on file and printer sharing” option under the “File and printer sharing” section, then hit “Save changes.”
- Check File Explorer to see if the devices connected to your private network are now visible.
One of the methods to enable network discovery on Windows is using Command Prompt or PowerShell. If you have tried the aforementioned techniques without success, this one is worth a shot.
- Right-click the Start menu and select “Windows Terminal (Admin).”
- Press Enter after typing each line of command:
netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group="File and Printer Sharing" new enable=Yes netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group="Network Discovery" new enable=Yes
- Use the following command to see whether any devices are connected to your network.
You should see the devices connected to your private network via File Explorer. If you’re getting a “The list of servers for this workgroup is not currently available” message instead, there are either no devices connected to your network, or network discovery was not properly enabled.
Fix No Computers Visible on the Network
If you’ve followed the instructions above and still can’t view devices connected to your Windows network, the following fixes could help you resolve the issue.
Tweak Windows Defender Firewall Settings
Your computer’s firewall might be the reason you’re not seeing the devices on your network. To fix it, you must enable Network Discovery in Windows Defender Firewall.
- Click on the Start menu, type “Control Panel,” and hit Enter.
- Select “System and Security.”
- Click on “Windows Defender Firewall.”
- Click on “Allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall” on the left panel.
- Locate “Network Discovery” and make sure it is checked.
- If not, click on the “Change settings” button and enable “Network Discovery.”
- Go back to File Explorer and check if the problem is fixed. If not, proceed to the next method.
Tip: sometimes you don’t want programs going online. Here’s how to prevent Windows apps from connecting to the Internet.
Re-Add Computers to the Workgroup
Sometimes devices don’t show up under Network due to incorrect workgroup settings, so you may have to add them manually to make them visible on your network.
- Press Windows + I simultaneously to open the Settings menu.
- Click on “System -> About.”
- Click on the “Advanced system settings” option.
- Select the “Computer Name” tab on the new page, then click on “Network ID.”
- Select “This computer is part of a business network; I use it to connect to other computers at work” in the new pop-up and click “Next.”
- Choose “My computer uses a network without a domain.”
- Enter your workgroup name and complete the process.
- Restart your device and see if everything works as intended.
In some cases, a bug or incorrect settings can cause network issues. To fix it, you may need to perform a network reset using the steps below.
- Open Settings on your PC.
- Click on “Network & internet -> Advanced network settings.”
- Click on “Network reset.”
- You can also use Command Prompt or PowerShell to reset network settings, renew IP, and flush DNS. Open Windows Terminal (Admin).
- Type the commands below and hit Enter after each line.
netsh int ip reset reset.txt netsh winsock reset netsh advfirewall reset ipconfig /release ipconfig /renew ipconfig /flushdns
- Restart your device.
You may need to update or reinstall your drivers to find other computers on the network in Windows. On the other hand, if you need to get rid of old drivers, we have a dedicated tutorial that shows you how.
- Right-click on the “Start” menu and select “Device Manager.”
- Expand “Network Adapters,” then select each item and click on “Update driver” or “Uninstall device.”
- If you’ve selected “Update driver,” a new window will open. Here you should choose “Search automatically for drivers.”
- If you selected “Uninstall device,” you need to restart your device to allow Windows to install the latest drivers automatically after it boots up.
Check Network-Related Services
These services are necessary for displaying network devices, so make sure they’re active.
- Press Windows + R to open the Run command box.
- Type “services.msc” in it and hit Enter to open Windows Services.
- Find “Function Discovery Provider Host” and double-click on it.
- In the new window, change the “Startup type” to “Automatic (Delayed Start),” then press “Apply -> Save.”
- Also, make sure the Startup type is set to Automatic for each one of these services: “Function Discovery Resource Publication,” “DNS Client,” “SSDP discovery,” and “Device host.”
Interested in running a home network? Here are the best DNS providers you can use for free.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many computer systems can we add to a LAN?
It all comes down to the networking hardware. Most home routers operate on a Class C network, which uses a single set of 256 addresses. However, if you consider an IPv4 network, complete with enterprise-level routers and switches, the answer would be millions.
Can I access another computer without connecting to a LAN?
Windows’s own Remote Desktop Connection is a technology that allows you to connect to another computer over the Internet and use it just as if you were sitting in front of it, allowing you to access files or run programs on a remote computer conveniently. The option is not active by default, so you’ll need to enable it using the steps below.
- Search for “Remote Desktop Settings” from the Start menu.
- Toggle on the “Remote Desktop” option.
- Search for “Remote Desktop Connection” from the Start menu.
- Add the remote device’s name or IP address and press “Connect.”
How can I create a shortcut to a network computer for direct access?
You can avoid going to File Explorer every time you want to access a device on the network by creating a shortcut. Go to “File Explorer -> Network” and right-click on the device in question, then select “Create shortcut.” Another option would be to “Pin to Start.”
Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Farhad Pashaei.
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