Windows 7 : Using Shared Resources - Creating Network Locations

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8/1/2012 6:08:25 PM

1. Opening Remote Documents

One of the advantages to having a network is that you can put documents in shared folders and open them from any computer in the network. For example, you might put all your important work documents in a shared folder on your main work computer. If you also have a portable computer you can use outside on sunny days (or from the sofa on lazy days), you can work directly with those documents from the remote computer.

The process is really no different from opening a document on a local computer. You could, for instance, just navigate to the folder, via the Network folder, in which the document is stored. Or, open the Computer folder, type the UNC path to the shared folder in the address bar, and press Enter. Then, double-click (or click) the document you want to edit, and the document will open from the remote computer (providing that the local computer has the appropriate program installed for working with that type of document).

Optionally, you can go through the program's Open dialog box to get to the document. Here's how:

  1. Open the program you want to use and choose File => Open from its menu bar.

  2. In the Open dialog box, click Network (if available) at the left side of the dialog box.

  3. First select the computer on the network where the document resides. Then navigate to the folder for (or a parent folder to) the document. If you have to open a parent folder, just navigate down through the subfolders until you get to the document's icon.

  4. Click or double-click the document's icon.

Once the document is open, you can edit it or print it however you like. When you save the document, your changes will be saved at the original location. If you want to save a local copy of the document to work with, choose File => Save As from the program's menu bar, navigate to a local folder such as your Documents folder, and save your copy there.

1.1. Opening a Read-Only Copy

If you try to open a document that someone already has open on another computer, you might see a message telling you what your options are. Those options will vary from one program to the next. For example, you might be offered the option to open a read-only copy of the document, or open a copy of the document. If you choose to open a read-only copy, you can then choose File => Save As in the program and save a local copy that you can modify.

2. Creating Network Locations

If you have your own Web site, or permission to upload to an FTP site, SharePoint site, or really anything on the Internet to which you can upload files, you can add an icon for that location to your Computer folder. Doing so will allow you to upload files to that location using the same techniques you use to save a file to your own computer.

You'll need to know the URL (address) to which you can download. Chances are you'll need a username and password as well. The people who own the site to which you'll be uploading will provide that information when you set up your account. They might also provide upload instructions. But as long as you know the URL and your username and password, you should be able to use the technique described here in addition to whatever method they provide.

To create a link to the Internet location, follow these steps:

  1. Open your Computer folder.

  2. Right-click any unused space in the window and choose Add a Network Location.

  3. Click Next on the first wizard page.

  4. Click Choose a Custom Network Location and click Next.

  5. Type the complete URL of the remote site. For example, if it's a Web site you own, include the http://. For instance, in Figure 1 I'm about to create a shortcut to the site. If the shortcut is to an FTP site for which you have upload permissions, use the ftp:// prefix on the URL. Click Next. To see a list of examples, click the View Examples link in the middle of the window.

  6. If the remote resource requires a username and password, you'll be prompted to enter your credentials. Enter the credentials and click OK.

  7. The next wizard page will suggest the URL (without the http:// or ftp:// prefix) as the name of the shortcut icon. You can replace that with any name you like, because it's used only as the label for the shortcut. Type the desired name and click Next.

  8. On the last wizard page, you can select (check) the check box Open This Network Location When I Click Finish if you want to see the remote folder immediately. Or clear the check box if you don't want to see that right now. Then click Finish.

When you double-click the icon for the remote site, it will open in Windows Explorer, looking much the same as any local folder on your own hard disk. You may not have quite as many options to choose from in the Explorer bar. Figure 2 shows an example where I've opened a SharePoint site.

Figure 1. Providing the URL of an Internet resource.

Figure 2. SharePoint site as a folder in Windows Explorer.

You can treat the folder as you would any other. For example, you can create a new folder, or rename or delete existing files and folders by right-clicking, just as you would in any folder on your C: drive. You can also move and copy files to/from the site. Things will be slower than on your own computer, because the remote resource could be thousands of miles away, but the techniques should all be the same.

You can rename any icon, at any time, under Network Locations just as you would any other icon. Just right-click the icon and choose Rename.

If things don't work as described here, your best resource for getting answers would be the people who provided the site. They're the only ones who know the details of that site.

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