Earlier versions of Windows operating systems like Windows 7 had the option to set a specific network to be either Public or Private. If you want to find other computers, devices or any other content available on your network, then you should set it as Private , or if you don't want to, switch its location to Public. This seems to be backwards but it's actually not, as you would not want your computer to be discoverable and share folders on a public network such as one in a coffee shop or an airport. In Windows 10, the process for setting the network location involves enabling or disabling a setting which is named “Make this PC discoverable”. In this guide we will show you where to find this setting and how to fiddle with it in Windows 10, when connecting to networks both wired and wirelessly. Let’s get started:
NOTE: The features shared in this article apply only to Windows 10 with Anniversary Update or to Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14367 or newer. Windows 10 Anniversary Update will be available for free, to all Windows 10 users, as of August 2, 2016.
IMPORTANT: In order to be able to do this, you have to be logged into your Windows 10 computer or device with a user account that has administrator privileges. If you need a refresher on the purpose of network locations in Windows, what they mean and what they do, read this guide: What are network locations in Windows?.
Step 1: Go to the Settings app
If you want to change the location set for your existing network connection, you first have to open the Settings app in Windows 10. One of the simplest way to open it is to click or tap the Start button in Windows 10 and then click or tap Settings.
Step 2: Go to the settings of your active network connection
Next, you have to open the settings of your active network connection.
In the Settings app, click or tap Network & Internet.
If you are connected to a wireless network, press Wi-Fi in the column on the left and you’ll see the network that you are connected to. Click or tap on the name of the wireless network that you are connected to.
If you are connected to a network using an Ethernet cable, in the column on the left, click or tap Ethernet. Then, click or tap on the name of the active network connection.
Step 3: Change the setting for making your PC discoverable
If you are connected to a wireless network, you now get to see a list of switches and properties for your network connection.
If you are connected to a network using an Ethernet cable, you get to see only one switch and the properties of your active network connection.
The setting that changes the location of your network from Private to Public and the other way around is named “Make this PC discoverable ”. Set the switch Off and the network location is set to Public . Set the switch On and the network location is set to Private.
Close the Settings app and you are done.
Bonus: How to check what network location is set
If you want to check whether the network location has been changed, open the Network and Sharing Center. There you'll see the actual location for every network connection, just beneath its name, as highlighted in the screenshot below.
As you can see, if you you'll follow the steps described above you'll be able to quickly and easily change the location of your network from Private to Public or the other way around. For more articles on Windows 10, check out some of our related guides and, if you have any suggestions, questions or problems, do not hesitate to use the comments form below.