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Windows

Windows 7: Accessing Shared Network Resources

1/18/2011 5:35:11 PM
After you connect to the network, the first thing you’ll likely want to do is see what’s on the network and access the available resources. Windows 7 gives you three ways to get started:
  • Select Start, type network, and then click Network in the results.

  • In any Windows Explorer window, click Network in the navigation pane.

  • In the Network and Sharing Center, click the Network icon in the mini network map.

Either way, you see the Network window, which lists the main network resources, such as the computers and media devices in your workgroup. As you can see in Figure 1, Details view shows you the resource name, category, workgroup or domain name, and the name of the network profile.

Figure 1. Windows 7’s Network window displays the main resources on your network.


Viewing a Computer’s Shared Resources

Your Network window will likely show mostly computers, and those are the network items you’ll work with most often. (The computers display an icon that shows a monitor and mini tower computer; if you’re not sure, select View, Details and look for the objects that have Computer in the Category column.) If you don’t see a particular computer, it likely means that the machine is either turned off or is currently in sleep mode. You need to either turn on or wake up the computer.

If you see the computer you want to work with, double-click the computer’s icon. One of two things will happen:

  • If your user account is also a user account on the remote computer, and that account has permission to view the view the remote computer, Windows 7 displays the computer’s shared resources.

  • If your user account is not a user account on the remote computer, and the remote computer has activated password-protected sharing, Windows 7 displays the Enter Network Password dialog box. You need to type the username and password of an account on the remote computer, as shown in Figure 2.

    Figure 2. You may need to log on to the remote computer to see its shared resources.

Figure 3 shows a typical collection of shared resources for a computer.

Figure 3. Double-click a network computer to see its shared resources.

Caution

Double-clicking a network computer to see its shared resources works because the default action (which you initiate by double-clicking) for a network computer is to run the Open command, which opens the computer’s shared resources in a folder window. However, not all the devices you see in the Network window have Open as the default action. For example, with media devices, the default action is either Open Media Player or Open Media Sharing. Other devices have more dangerous default actions. On some routers, for example, the default action is Disable, which disconnects the router’s Internet connection! So, instead of just double-clicking any device to see what happens, it’s better to right-click the device and examine the list of commands. In particular, make note of the command shown in bold type, which is the default action.


The computer shown in Figure 26.3 is sharing folders named Downloads, Paul, and Writing; two hard drives (c and d), a DVD drive, and a printer. The computer is also sharing the Public folder, which is open to everyone on the network and usually provides users with full read/write access. However, it’s also possible to protect this folder by giving users read-only access, or by not displaying the Public folder at all.

Double-click a shared folder to see its contents. For example, Figure 4 displays the contents of the Paul folder shown in Figure 26.3. What you can do with the shared folder’s contents depends on the permissions the computer owner has applied to the folder.

Figure 4. Double-click a shared folder to see its contents.

Working with Network Addresses

In Figure.4, the address bar shows the breadcrumb path to the shared folder:

Network > PAULSPC > Paul

Clicking an empty section of the address bar (or the icon that appears on the left side of the address bar) changes the breadcrumb path to the following network address, as shown in Figure 5:

\\PAULSPC\Paul

Figure 5. Click an empty section of the address bar to see the network address.

As you can see, a network address uses the following format:

\\ComputerName\ShareName

Here, ComputerName is the name of the network computer, and ShareName is the name of the shared resource on that computer. This format for network addresses is known as the Universal Naming Convention (UNC). If the UNC refers to a drive or folder, you can use the regular Windows path conventions to access folders and subfolders on that resource. For example, the resource Paul on PAULSPC has a Databases folder, and the network address of that folder would be as follows:

\\PAULSPC\Paul\Databases

Similarly, if that Databases folder has an Access subfolder, here’s the network address of that subfolder:

\\PAULSPC\Paul\Databases\Access

So, although you’ll most often use icons in folder windows to navigate through a computer’s shared resources, network addresses give you an alternative way to specify the resource you want to work with. Here are some examples:

  • In the Network Explorer, click an empty section of the address bar, type the network address for a shared resource, and then press Enter.

  • Press Windows Logo+R (or select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Run) to open the Run dialog box. Type the network address for a shared resource, and then click OK to open the resource in a folder window.

  • In a program’s Open or Save As dialog box, you can type a network address in the File Name text box.

  • In a Command Prompt session (select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt), type start, then a space, then the network address of the resource you want to open. Here’s an example:

    start \\paulspc\paul\databases
  • In a Command Prompt session, you can use a network address as part of a command. For example, to copy a file named projects.mdb from \\PAULSPC\Paul\Databases\Access to the current folder, you’d use the following command:

    copy "\\paulspc\paul\databases\access\projects.mdb"
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- Working with Windows 7’s Basic Network Tools and Tasks (part 1) - Accessing the Network and Sharing Center
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