Monday, 16 January 2012

How to network Windows 7 and Vista computers to share files, folders & printers from the Windows 7 PC

If you've had trouble networking Windows 7 and Vista computers, and even when you've turned password protection off it keeps asking for a username and password when trying to access files remotely from the Windows 7 PC but won't let you login and says "Network logon failure unknown user name or bad password" or similar, this post suggests some possible solutions. Note that I've only looked at sharing specific folders on a Windows 7 PC to a Vista PC (and not vice versa).

To fix this problem, this is what worked for me, after steps like these didn't work. This gave the clue! Short answer: make sure you've enabled the Guest account, or (better) create an account on the Windows 7 computer for network sharing purposes.

Step by step:

  1. First, make sure you've done all these essential preliminary steps (though I'd leave out the firewall settings for now), ie: put both computers on the same workgroup (any name you want for the workgroup, as long as it's the same for both computers); set their network locations to Home; turned on network discovery, file and printer sharing, and public folder sharing.


  2. Then:
    1. EITHER:
      1. in the settings above, turn OFF "Password protected sharing"
      2. turn ON the guest account (it was off on my Windows 7 computer by default)
      3. then, to access shared stuff from the other computer, go to Network (in Computer or Windows Explorer), doubleclick the name of the Windows 7 computer, and when it asks for username and password, just type in 'guest' for the username (or if that doesn't work, try YourWindows7ComputerName\guest), but leave the password blank, tick the box below if you want to save having to re-enter details during the same session, then hit OK.
      4. BIG RED WARNING - note that this is not very secure as it adds a "guest" account onto the Windows 7 computer which anyone can use to access that computer without a password, including accessing attached external hard drives. So, either rename the guest account or (better yet) secure the guest account, which may be a bit involved, or just create a special account on the Windows 7 computer as per 2.2. below, which may be easier.
    2. OR, alternatively, and this better for security:
      1. create another account on the Windows 7 computer with username/password, just for networked file and printer sharing
      2. on the other computer, again in Computer or Windows Explorer go to Network and doubleclick the name of the Windows 7 Computer; when the login prompt pops up, enter the username and password you created.
        1. note: the box to tick to remember your credentials shouldn't be there for Vista Home versions, because even if if you tick it, it won't remember your user/password (cached credentials) for network shares, beyond the session. Next time you reboot or restart the Vista computer, you'll just have to enter them all over again if you want to access stuff shared from your Windows 7 computer.
          Easiest workaround: create the special account on the Windows 7 computer with the same username/password as on the Vista computer.
        2. this (go to the "Concealing…" section) shows how to hide the special account from the logon screen on the Windows 7 computer if you wish, so that it's not visible on the Windows 7 PC when you  turn it on
      3. Note that the username may need to be in the form "Windows 7 computer name\username" (without the quotes)
      4. In this case, of course, you should turn "Password protected file sharing" in step 1 back to ON.

        Now if, after doing that, on the other computer you can see the shared files and folders on the Windows 7 computer, but on trying to open them you can't, and get a message like "The Network Path Cannot be Found - Error code 0x80070035", just try this Netbios fix on the other computer (NOT the Windows 7 one). Step 2 of that worked for me, no reboot needed and no need to tinker with firewalls!

Important - before the other computer can see files etc on the Windows 7 computer, you still have to take some extra steps on the Windows 7 computer first:

  1. Set the properties of the folders or files that you want to share, so that they're Shared.

    And don't forget to "Limit the number of simultaneous users" to the maximum number of computers in your network - it defaults to 20!

  2. Also, check your printers to make sure the ones you want to share are shared, and share them if necessary:
    1. Go to Start, Devices and Printers
    2. Rightclick on the name of the printer you want to share, and go to Printer properties. IMPORTANT: don't go to Properties, don't go to Printing preferences, go to Printer properties!

    3. Pick your printer, if more than one, and go to the Sharing tab and tick "Share this printer" - give it an intelligible name, and OK.
    4. On the Vista computer, under Network you should now see the printers - just doubleclick on a printer to install it (if necessary).

    Thursday, 12 January 2012

    Outlook 2010 unread messages – how to set font size and colour

    I'd previously blogged about how to make Outlook 2010 more readable and accessible by increasing font size ie enlarging and emboldening fonts in the different panes, etc

    The problem with making the row font bold is that you can't distinguish between read and unread messages easily (unless you kept in the Read column, which I haven't for space reasons). This is because Outlook makes bold the text in Read rows, so if even unread text is bold, you can't tell the difference.

    The secret is to set the font of unread emails to a different colour and maybe type, style and size too. In my case I've made them red, but also bold and the same type, size and style as I've made the other text.

    To do this, go to the menu View, and click View Settings:


    You'll see this:


    Now click the "Conditional Formatting" button and you'll see the box below. Left click once on "Unread messages" to select it, then click the Font button, below.


    Now you can choose the font type, style, size and colour that you want, and hit OK, OK and OK again.


    You can apply this to other folders and sub-folders in your mailbox via the Change View folder – see my previous post on how to set all Outlook folders and sub-folders' view settings to match the current folder's.

    Tuesday, 3 January 2012

    Windows Live Writer ribbon and menu disappearing?


    When I recently moved to Windows 7, even though WLW came pre-installed on my new computer, I found that the ribbon and menus were not there whenever I opened WLW – see the pic above!

    How to solve this problem? What worked for me was just click the restore or full size icon at the top right of the window (between the – and the X icons), and then click it again to get back your previous window size, and voila - the ribbon returns!


    The fix is straightforward, but this is an annoyance as I have to do it every time I launch Windows Live Writer after starting up my computer. Windows Live Writer is to me the best free blogging software there is – it works for Blogger/Blogspot as well as and many other blogging platforms - so I hope there's a permanent solution soon.

    (And no, it's WLW, not my computer or monitor - the 'ribbon vanishes' issue doesn't happen with any other application, for me.)

    Monday, 2 January 2012

    Can't find Microsoft Office programs inside Program Files?

    If you've installed Microsoft Office in Windows 7 Professional 64 bit, and you can't find Office's Winword.exe for Microsoft Word, or other EXE files in the Program Files folder for Excel etc, here's how to find them. They're not actually missing, so you can stop tearing your hair out.

    The solution to the problem is this: you may have installed 32-bit Microsoft Office, but the 64 bit Windows system creates two Program Files folders in your C drive - "Program Files", and "Program Files (x86)".


    The weird thing is that the "Program Files" folder still contains a "Microsoft Office" folder with "Office14" subfolder (if you have Office 2010, or "Office11" if you're on Office 2007). Which is what threw me at first.

    However, those folders will be rather empty - you won't find many Office files within them!

    If you want to find the real Office 2010 programs and other Microsoft office files, you will have to look in "Program Files (x86)". It's the "Microsoft Office" subfolder there that you want, probably Office14 (or Office11 for Office 2007).


    Some may think this is obvious, but, being new to 64-bit Windows, I missed it at first, and it seems and others have too, so I hope this saves someone else from going mad trying to find the Microsoft Office Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc applications inside "Program Files"!