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Working with "My Network Places" in Microsoft Places

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My Network Places is a feature of Windows XP and older versions of Microsoft Windows used to browse network resources. [Note: This functionality has been re-named and moved to other areas of the Windows desktop starting with Windows Vista]. Network resources in Windows include:
  • shared file folders on other computers
  • networked local printers
  • Web links (URLs)

My Network Places in Windows XP can be accessed from the Windows Start menu (or through My Computer). Launching My Network Places causes a new window to appear on the screen. Through this window, you can add, search for and remotely access these network resources.

My Network Places replaced the "Network Neighborhood" utility found in Windows 98 and older Windows operating systems. My Network Places also offers additional functionality not available through Network Neighborhood.

Searching for Network Resources

Through My Network Places, Windows can automatically search for shared network files, printers and other resources present on your local network. For example, many people use My Network Places to confirm that each computer set up on their home network can "see" all the other computers.

To browse a list of available network resources, choose the "Entire Network" option in the left-hand pane of My Network Places. Then, in the right-hand pane, several options may appear for the kinds of networks available to browse. Choose the "Microsoft Windows Network" option to browse resources available locally.

Each local computer found in My Network Places will be listed under its Windows workgroup name. In home networking, all computers should be set to use the same Windows workgroup, otherwise they will not all be accessible through My Network Places.

Add a Network Place

The "Add a network place" option can be found on the left-hand size of the My Network Places control window. Clicking this option brings up a Windows "wizard" that guides you through the steps to define a network resource. Here you can specify the location of the resource by entering a Web link (URL) or a remote computer / folder name in the Windows UNC format.

The Add a Network Place wizard allows you to give descriptive names to the resources you add. When finished with the wizard, an icon similar to a Windows shortcut icon appears in the resource list.

Along with the resources you manually add to My Network Places, Windows will sometimes automatically add other resources to the list. These are places on the local network you frequently access.

Removing Network Places

Removing a network resource from the My Network Places list works as in Windows Explorer. The icon representing any network resource can be deleted as if it were a local shortcut. During a delete operation, no action is taken on the resource itself.

View Network Connections

The My Network Places task pane contains an option to "View network connections." Choosing this option launches the Windows Network Connections window. This is technically a separate feature from My Network Places.

Summary

My Network Places is a standard feature of Windows XP and Windows 2000. My Network Places allows you to find network resources. It also supports creating descriptively-named shortcuts for network resources.

My Network Places can be a useful troubleshooting tool in situations where two local networked devices cannot communicate with each other. Resources that don't appear in the Microsoft Windows Network are likely networked improperly. Resources will not appear in My Network Places for any of the following reasons:

  • firewall interference
  • workgroup naming
  • TCP/IP address settings
  • other Windows software settings
The next page explains these and other Windows sharing issues in more detail.

Next > Windows File and Resource Sharing Tips

My Network Places - Related Resources

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