How to create a link to a file, folder, or library on your computer

When you work with shared resources on a network, you may need to quickly get the link to a shared network folder and paste it into a chat window. Or, for example, you might want to know how to create a link to a file on your computer and use it to share that file with others on the same network. Although they are not easy to figure out, Windows gives us two ways to hyperlink a path to a file, folder, or library that's shared on the network. Without further ado, here's the answer to the "How do I copy a file path as a link?" question:

NOTE: This guide covers Windows 10 with May 2020 Update and Windows 7. Everything works the same in both operating systems. If you don't know what your version of Windows is, read: What version of Windows do I have installed?.

Method 1: How to create a link to a file on your computer, using the Sharing Wizard (also works for hyperlinking folders or libraries)

When you share a file, folder, or library with the network, you can use the Sharing Wizard. This wizard is turned on by default, so you should have no problems starting it. To learn more about it, read this guide and follow it to share files, folders, or libraries: How to share folders, files, and libraries with the network, in Windows.

At the final step of the process, when the sharing wizard informs you that the file, folder, or library is shared, don't close the wizard.

The sharing wizard from Windows 10

Look carefully beneath the "Your file/folder/library is shared" notification. There, Windows tells that "You can e-mail someone links to these shared items, or copy and paste the links into another app."

The e-mail and copy links from the last step of the sharing wizard

If you click or tap the e-mail link, your default e-mail client is opened, and the direct link is automatically pasted into it.

Sending an email with the shared file link

If you press the "copy" link, the link to the shared resource is copied to the clipboard, and you can then paste it into other programs.

Copy and paste a shared file link

Method 2: How to create a link to a file on a shared drive, using File Explorer (also works for hyperlinking folders or libraries)

The second method applies to files, folders, and libraries that you've already shared on your Windows computer. If you're wondering how to create a link to a file on a shared drive, this method works for that too.

Open File Explorer, go to the Network section, and double-click or double-tap on the PC where the file, folder, or library you want to link is found.

A computer from the local network

This shows you a list of all the folders that are shared with the network. Browse until you find the specific file, folder, or library for which you want the direct link.

The folders and files shared on a network computer

Hold down Shift on your keyboard and right-click on the file, folder, or library for which you want a link. Then, select "Copy as path" in the contextual menu.

Copy path for a file in File Explorer

If you're using Windows 10, you can also select the item (file, folder, library) and click or tap on the "Copy as path" button from File Explorer's Home tab.

Copy path for a file in File Explorer

Then, paste the link into the app or document where you want it to be. You should have something similar to this:

Copy and paste the file link in a document

For the folder, library, or file link(s) to be active, press Enter to make it clickable in the Office application where you copied it. When you Ctrl + click the link, File Explorer opens the shared file, folder, or library, if the network computer sharing that resource is available.

Making the file link clickable

My file path link doesn't work! Why?

In some cases, the file links you create might not work. There are several possible causes. Here's what you can try:

Regardless of whether you wanted to create a link to a file, folder, or library, in some apps you might have to type "file://" before the network path, like this:

The file link starts with the word file followed by the signs below

In other cases, depending on the apps in which you want to place the file links, you might also have to manually replace all the blank spaces in the link paths with this text: %20. Here's an example:

Blank spaces can be replaced with %20 encodings

There's also the possibility that on some older versions of Windows, or in other operating systems, the backslashes from the network paths aren't recognized. In that case, you can try to replace all the backslashes () with forward slashes (/).

Backslashes can be replaced by forward slashes

Finally, note that, whatever you do, in some apps, file links simply don't work as regular links. Such is the case with most web browsers and chat apps, which treat these local links as security threats. However, even so, the user who gets your file link can still use the link to get to that file, folder, or library. All he or she has to do is copy and paste the link in the address bar of (his or her) File Explorer and press Enter.

Copy and paste a file link in File Explorer's address bar

Do you use file hyperlinks?

We hope that you've found these tips useful. If you know other ways to generate the link to the files, folders, or libraries shared in a network, don't hesitate to let us know. Comment below, and let's share all the ways to generate links in Windows.

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