When working with shared resources on a network, I have encountered the need to quickly learn the link to a shared network folder and paste it into a chat window or a document I was about to share with others on the same network. Even though they are not very easy to figure out, Windows offers two ways for generating the direct link to any folder or library that is shared with the network. Here's how they work:
Method 1: Share Folders or Libraries with the Sharing Wizard
When you share a folder or a library with the network, you can use the Sharing Wizard that is available both in Windows 7 and Windows 8. This wizard is turned on by default so you should not have any problems starting it. To learn more about it, read this guide and follow it to share a folder or a library: How to Share Libraries & Folders with the Sharing Wizard in Windows.
At the final step of the sharing process, when you are informed that the folder or library is shared, do not close the wizard.
Look carefully beneath the notification that says "Your folder/library is shared". You will notice a line that says: "You can e-mail someone links to these shared items, or copy and paste the links into another program".
If you click the "e-mail" link, your default e-mail client is opened and the direct link is automatically pasted into it. If you click the "copy" link, the link to the shared resource is copied to the clipboard and you can then paste it into other programs.
Method 2: View Your PC's Shared Folders & Copy Their Location
The second method is applicable to folders that are already shared and it works both for getting the link to your shared resources and to resources shared by other computers on the network. Open File Explorer in Windows 8 or Windows Explorer in Windows 7. Then, go to the Network section and double click the PC that you are interested in.
You will see a list with all the folders that are shared with the network. Browse until you find the specific folder or subfolder for which you want the direct link.
Then, double click inside the address bar on the top, so that you can see the direct network path to that folder.
Select it and copy it (Ctrl+C) to the clipboard. You can also right click on it and select Copy.
Now you can paste this link into other programs.
What Can You Do With This Link?
There are many things you can do with a direct link to a folder or library that is shared with the network:
First of all, you can paste it into all kinds of documents. This is useful when those documents are used by others on the same network. Below you can see examples of links to shared libraries that were copied into a Word document. As you can see, the path for shared network libraries is quite long.
When you copy the link to a shared folder into a document, its network path is shorter. In order for the link(s) to be active, press Enter so that it is made clickable by the Office application where you copied it. When you Ctrl + click the link, the shared folder or library is displayed in Windows/File Explorer, if the network computer sharing that resource is available.
If you are sharing a folder or a library with the Sharing Wizard, you can quickly send an email with the link to it. If you press the "e-mail" link mentioned in the first section of this article, a new message window is displayed in your default email client. Add your message, the email address of the person that you want to send it to and press Send.
If you use the second method for getting the link to a shared folder and you copy it into a document, the path displayed is shorter than when using the first method. Also, there is no description generated for the shared resource, only its network path. If you Ctrl+click on it, it will take you straight to that shared resource.
Another use for generating the link to a shared folder or library is that you can copy it in the Create Shortcut wizard and create a shortcut to that resource, for quick access.
I hope you found these tips useful. If you have discovered other ways for generating the link to your shared network folders or libraries, don't hesitate to share them using the comments form below.