Starting with Windows 7 and continuing through Windows 8/10, Microsoft removed the feature that changed the icon of the folder when a folder was shared so that you could immediately determine that it was being shared.
Instead, they moved this information to the Details pane that appears at the bottom of Windows Explorer in Windows 7. This makes it difficult to find the shared folders on your computer.
Windows 8 is pretty good too! Even when you select a folder, the details pane doesn’t even tell you that it is being shared! Instead, you have to click on the Sharing tab in the ribbon interface, and if it says Stop Sharing, it means the folder is currently shared. What a royal pain!
The move to Windows 10 is even worse! There is a Remove Access button on the Sharing tab, but it is fixed and does not change, even if the folder is shared or not.
After playing around with Explorer a bit, I was able to find two ways to partially solve my problem. One way is simpler and you don’t need to change anything here. The second method has two parts: first, you can add a column to explorer that will tell you if a folder is public or not, and second, you will apply this folder view to all folders using the same folder template Here’s how to do it.
Use your network browser to view the shared folders
If you want to quickly see what folders are in use on your computer, you can go to File Explorer in Windows 10 and click Network in the left pane.
As you can see, it will provide you with a list of computers, devices, etc. on your network. In the Computers section, you should also see the name of the computer you are currently working on. In my case, this is my own CyberPowerPC machine.
Double click on the computer and you will see a list of all shared folders.
Add a column to Explorer in Windows 10
The second method is a little more complicated and generally not the best solution, but it works. Go to the folder where you want to see if the folders within that folder are public or not.
For example, if you have shared folders under My Documents, navigate to the My Documents folder and right-click to the right of the last column header:
Then click More. You will now have a huge list of additional columns that you can add to File Explorer. Scroll down to S where you will see four sharing boxes.
These include Sharing, Sharing with, Sharing status, and Sharing type. You can add them all if you like, but if you just want to get a Yes or No answer for each folder, check the General box. You will now see an additional column that says Y for yes if shared and N for no if not shared.
This is great, but as soon as you close the explorer and return to the folder, you will see the Shared column disappear. This is because you haven’t applied it to all folders. To do this, you need to click “Options” and then “Change folder and search options.”
Now go to the “View” tab and click “Apply to folders”.
This will apply this view to all folders of the same type. Under the same type, it means that all folders use the same folder template. In Windows 7 and Windows 8/10, every folder on your system is based on a folder template. You can see what the template for the folder is by right-clicking the folder and choosing Properties.
Click the Customize tab and you will see that this folder is optimized for a specific type of file template. This includes documents, pictures, videos, music, and other items. Therefore, if you add a new column to the Pictures folder and then apply to folders as shown above, the new column will only appear in the folders optimized for images. Has the meaning?
This is a little caveat and can be confusing if you add a column and then suddenly you don’t see that column in certain folders when you browse in File Explorer. If you want to see the Shared column in almost every folder, starting at the root of the C drive, your best bet is to go to C: and add the Shared column there. Then go to folder and search options and apply to folders. Because the Shared template is used at the root of drive C, the Shared column will appear in all folders except Videos, Music, and Pictures.
The only other place where you won’t see extra columns is in libraries. For libraries, you can add columns, but Windows won’t let you save them by clicking the “Apply to folders” option. It’s a little annoying, but the way Windows 7 and Windows 8/10 works! Hopefully this helps you find shared folders on Windows 10 PC a little faster than before. Enjoy!