How to share files in Windows 10 with nearby devices

With Nearby Sharing, you can share documents and files with other Windows 10 devices in the same location. Here's a step-by-step guide for using Nearby Sharing.

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Image: Matt Elliott/CNET

You want an easy way to share files across different computers and devices when you're in the same office as your colleagues. Sure, you can share files through a network, a file sharing site, or even email, but another solution in Windows 10 is a handy feature known as Nearby Sharing. Through Nearby Sharing, you can share files with nearby devices via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You can opt to share files only with your own devices or with any device within range. Let's check this out.

SEE: Windows 10 power tips: Secret shortcuts to your favorite settings (Tech Pro Research)

How to enable and use Nearby Sharing

To enable Nearby Sharing, open Settings and then System. Select the setting for Shared Experiences. Turn on the switch for Nearby Sharing. Under the option for I Can Share Or Receive Content From, select Everyone Nearby to be able to share files with any nearby device or select My Devices Only to share files only with devices in which you're signed in with your Microsoft account. To change the location in which shared files are stored, click the Change button and browse to and select the folder you want to use (Figure A).

Figure A

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Repeat the same steps for any computer or device with which you want to share files. To share a file, open File Explorer. Right-click the file you want to share and click the Share command from the popup menu. Click the name of the computer to which you want to share the file (Figure B).

Figure B

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The other computer should receive a notification on its end with three options: Save & Open, Save, or Decline. The first option saves the file and opens it in its native application; the second just saves the file; and the third declines the invitation. Assuming the person chooses either of the first two options, the file is saved in the location that was selected in the Nearby Sharing setting screen (Figure C).

Figure C

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Beyond sharing a file from File Explorer, you can also share photos from the Photos app and web pages from Microsoft Edge (Figure D).

Figure D

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How to troubleshoot issues with Nearby Sharing

The Nearby Sharing feature can be tricky and fail to work for a variety of reasons. For instance:

  • You may not be able to see a nearby device even though Nearby Sharing is enabled;
  • you might see another device but not be able to share the file; and
  • you might be able to share the file but not receive the necessary notification to accept the invitation.

If you do bump into such problems, here are a few troubleshooting steps.

First, Nearby Sharing requires the Windows 10 April 2018 Update or higher. To double-check, open Settings and them System. Scroll to the bottom and click About. Under Windows Specifications, make sure the version number is 1803 or higher (Figure E).

Figure E

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Next, you need Bluetooth to make the initial connection and then Wi-Fi to transfer the file. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled by going to Settings | Devices | Bluetooth & Other Devices. You want to make sure your devices have the necessary version of Bluetooth, specifically Bluetooth 4.0 or higher with Low Energy support. To do this, open Device Manager from the Control Panel. Click the entry for Bluetooth. Right-click the specific Bluetooth adapter, such as Intel Wireless Bluetooth or Generic Bluetooth Adapter, and select Properties. At the Properties window, click the tab for Details. Change the property to Bluetooth Radio Supports Low Energy Central Role and make sure the value is set to True (Figure F).

Figure F

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Then, make sure notifications are enabled, especially for Nearby Sharing. Open Settings and select System. Click the setting for Notifications & Actions. Turn on the switch for Get Notifications From Apps And Other Senders if it's not already enabled. Scroll down the list of apps and ensure that the switch for Nearby Sharing is turned to On (Figure G).

Figure G

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