How to change Windows 10 network location from Public to Private

Posted by Paul Braren on Jan 5 2015 (updated on Oct 25 2017) in
  • HowTo
  • Network
  • Windows
  • network-icon-only-without-cursor

    Ever found yourself with a Windows system that won't let you browse other computers or printers on the local network? If you're on a public connection such as an airport or hotel Wi-Fi, this expected behavior is good. But even if you're at home, Windows sometimes mysteriously winds up with this Public network type. Yes, Network Location Awareness might guess wrong. Thankfully, the simple fix usually takes under 30 seconds using the article and videos below, created entirely on my SuperServer Workstation.

    You'll need to know your exact Windows version to get to the exact fix below that's for you. Press your keyboard's Windows key + R, type winver, then press the Enter key. Note your Version number (as pictured below), then click on the link below that matches that number:


    Windows-Version-1709-TinkerTry

    Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Version 1709 Build 16299

    It's gotten much easier since all previous Windows 10 versions, thank you Microsoft! I don't have video yet, meanwhile, here's the step-by-step instructions with screenshots:

    Fix for Wi-Fi Network Connections

    Windows-10-Build-1709-Wireless-Fix-Step-1-and-Step-2-by-TinkerTry
    1. left-click the tiny Wi-Fi network icon (beams icon) in your system tray at bottom-right, near your clock)
    2. left-click on Properties below the network item near the top of the menu, such as PAB's iPhone pictured in this example, use whatever your Wi-Fi network's name is, also known as the SSID
       
       
       
       
    3. at the top, under Network profile, change from Public to Private
      Windows-10-Build-1709-Wireless-Fix-Step-3-by-TinkerTry

       

    Fix for Wired Network Connections

    Win-10-Build-1709-step-1-step-2-by-TinkerTry
    1. left-click the tiny network icon (computer screen symbol) in your system tray at bottom-right (near your clock), then a menu pops up
    2. left-click the first network item that comes up near the top of the menu, such as Network Connected or similar network name
       
    3. under the top section labeled Ethernet, left-click the first network item that comes up near the top, such as Network Connected
      Windows-10-Build-1709-Wired-Fix-Step-3-by-TinkerTry
    4. at the top, under Network profile, change from Public to Private
      Windows-10-Build-1709-Wired-Fix-Step-4-by-TinkerTry

       
       


    Windows 10 Creators Update, Version 1703 Build 15063

    Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Version 1607 Build 14393

    Windows-Version-1703-TinkerTry
    Windows-Version-1607-TinkerTry
    here's-how-Network-Location-looks-win-Windows-10-1607-by-TinkerTry
    Here's how Network Location looks in Windows 10 Versions 1607.

    Both versions 1703 and 1607 use the same fix, with menus appearing nearly the same, with identical wording:

    Make this PC discoverable
    Allow your PC to be discoverable by other PCs and devices on this
    network. We recommend turning this on for private networks at
    home or work, but turning it off for public networks to help keep
    your stuff safe.

    Fix for Wi-Fi Network Connection - Video

    For Wi-Fi networks, this short video loop demonstrates every step. Mouse-over to reveal playback controls. Only applicable to Windows 10 Version 1607 Build 14393.

    Fix for Wired Network Connection - Video

    For Wired networks, this short video loop demonstrates every step. Mouse-over to reveal playback controls. Only applicable to Windows 10 Version 1607 Build 14393.

    Fix for Wi-Fi Network Connection - Instructions

     
    Step 1 - click on the Wi-Fi icon in the System Tray

    click on the Wi-Fi icon in the System Tray

     
    Step 2 & 3 - click on the 'Connected' Wi-Fi connection at the top of the list, submenu opens, click 'Properties'

    click on the 'Connected' Wi-Fi connection at the top of the list, submenu opens, click 'Properties'

     
    Step 4 - under 'Make this PC discoverable' move the slider to 'On'

    under 'Make this PC discoverable' move the slider to 'On'

    Fix for Wired Network Connection - Instructions

     
    Step 1 & 2 - click on the Network icon in the System Tray, click on your Network Connection that shows 'Connected'.png

    click on the Network icon in the System Tray, click on your Network Connection that shows 'Connected'
    click on the Network icon in the System Tray, click on your Network Connection that shows 'Connected'

     
    Step 3 - click on your Network Connection that shows 'Connected'

    click on your Network Connection that shows 'Connected'

     
    Step 4 - under 'Make this PC discoverable' move the slider to 'On'

    under 'Make this PC discoverable' move the slider to 'On'
    under 'Make this PC discoverable' move the slider to 'On'

    No single fix works for everybody, with several fix methods listed in the original post below. Many were improved by some helpful commenters below. The most successful & common fix is shown above, taking under 30 seconds. More techniques appear below.


    Jul 12 2016 Update

    Windows 10 November Update, Version 1511 Build 10586

    Windows 10 RTM, Version 1507 Build 10240 (initial release)

    These instructions look the same for Builds 15063, 14393, 10586, and 10240, see Windows version details in the table here.

    Below is an archive for reference, and yes, Microsoft completely changed how the user interface looks in Version 1607, which has been detailed above.

    Table of Contents - 4 Methods

    1. HomeGroup Control Panel - easiest fix that works for most (Video)
      HomeGroup Control Panel - easiest fix that works for most (Screenshots)

    2. Find devices and content toggle - WiFi (Video)
      Find devices and content toggle - Wired (Video)

    3. HomeGroup Troubleshooter (Video)

    4. Run gpedit.msc - requires admin rights (Video)

    Change from Public Network to Private Network (Windows 10)

    1. HomeGroup Control Panel - easiest fix that works for most (Video)

    30 second video loop demonstrates every step. Mouse-over to reveal playback controls. Applicable to all recent releases of Windows 10, including Summer 2015's Build 10240, and Fall 2015's Build 10586.

    1. HomeGroup Control Panel - easiest fix that works for most (Screenshots)

    Step-1-Click-'Start_menu'
    [1] Click on the bottom left Windows icon known as the Start menu
    Step-2-Select-homegroup
    [2] Just start typing homegroup, then select "HomeGroup" from the search results
    Step-3-Select-'Change_network_location'
    [3] Select "Change network location"
    Step-4-Select-Discoverable-'Yes'
    [4] Select Discoverable "Yes"
    Step-5-Right-click-WiFi-or-Wired-network-icon-in-system-tray
    [5] Right-click WiFi or Wired network icon in system tray
    Step-6-Select-'Open_Network_and_Sharing_Center'
    [6] Select "Open Network and Sharing Center"
    Step-7-Verify-'Private_network'
    [7] Verify network shows as "Private network" then close the window. You're done!


    2. Find devices and content toggle - WiFi (Video)

    Here's another way to go about fixing the wifi wireless network connection on Windows 10.

    2. Find devices and content toggle - Wired (Video)

    Here's another way to go about fixing the wired network connection on Windows 10.


    3. HomeGroup Troubleshooter (Video)




    4. Run gpedit.msc, requires admin rights (Video)

    WARNING!

    This fix carries risk, and could put you on a private network type in the future, when connecting to an unknown (new) network. Proceed at your own risk:

    1. click the Start button, type gpedit.msc then press Enter key
    2. click Computer Configuration / Windows Settings / Security Settings / Network List Manager Policies
    3. double-click on Unidentified Networks / change Location type from Not configured to Private then click OK to close the window

    Interested in reading more about the Microsoft Networking security implications of network location? See also Microsoft's Choosing a network location.

    Original blog post from Jan 05 2015 below (Windows 10 Insider Preview / Beta).


    History of the solution for various Windows 10 Insider Preview builds

    • See Build 9926 Jan 25 2015 Update below.
      With the January 23 2015 release of Build 9926, it became obvious Microsoft is still moving things around quite a bit. The new method of changing from Public to Private on build 9926 is described.

    • See Build 10041 March 26 2015 Update below.
      With the March 18 2015 release called Windows 10 Technical Preview ISO March Update Build 10041, they've changed it yet again.

    • See Build 10074 May 01 2015 Update below.

    • See Build 10130 June 15 2015 Update below.

    • See Build 10159 July 03 2015 Update below.

    • See Build 10240 July 29 2015 Update below.
      This "real" release that became generally available on Jul 29 2015. Network type change methods seem to have remained the same ever since.

    Jan 25 2015 Update

    With the Jan 23 2015 release of build 9926, it’s become obvious Microsoft is still moving things around quite a bit. Here’s the new method of changing from Public to Private on build 9926.

    On Wired or WiFi connections that are stuck in Public:

    1. press the Windows Key (on your keyboard)
    2. type Homegroup, a “HomeGroup” menu will come up, press enter
    3. a “Change network location” link appears, click/tap it
    4. Next, the “Networks” dialogue will slide in the from the right, asking
      “Do you want to find PCs, devices, and content on this network, and automatically connect to devices like printers and TVs? We recommend that you do this on your home and work networks.”
      Tap/click on “Yes”

    That’s it, you’re now in the desired private network mode.

    HomeGroup-Windows-10-build-9926

    Mar 26 2015 Update

    For build 10041, here's the modified way to do the same thing.

    1. press the Windows Key (on your keyboard) or Start button
    2. type HomeGroup, and “HomeGroup” will be on top and selected, press Enter
    3. select the blue link "Change network location"
    4. tap/click on "Yes" when prompted with
      “Do you want to find PCs, devices, and content on this network, and automatically connect to devices like printers and TVs? We recommend that you do this on your home and work networks.”
    5. optionally, you can confirm by right-clicking on the network tray icon, then left-clicking "Open Network and Sharing Center" notice it now shows "Private network"

    May 01 2015 Update

    For build 10074, here's the modified way to do the same thing, for folks where searching for HomeGroup (as seen above in 10041) simply doesn't work. It's possible there is some A / B testing going on here, as discussed at this spot on Windows Weekly 411. The method below will work without relying on search.

    1. click or tap the Start button
    2. Settings
    3. Network & Internet
    4. Ethernet
    5. HomeGroup
    6. Change network location
    7. "Do you want to find PCs, devices..." select Yes

    June 15 2015 Update

    For build 10130, see what Jason has to say in the dialog below

    I had to run the home group troubleshooter and it gave me the option to apply the fix to change my network to private.

    Apply-this-fix

    So I recorded a video how to:

    and documented the step-by-step:

    1. press the Windows Key (on your keyboard) or Start button
    2. type HomeGroup, and “HomeGroup” will be on top and selected, press Enter
    3. select "Find and fix problems with homegroup"
    4. select on "Next"
    5. select on "Troubleshoot network problems"
    6. select on "Explore additional options"
    7. close the "Additional Information" window
    8. when "Change the network location to Private" window comes up, select "Apply this fix"
    9. when "Troubleshooting has completed" window comes up, select "Close"

    July 03 2015 Update

    For build 10159, it's pretty easy again, back to the to the same procedure as we used to have way back on build 10041:

    1. press the Windows Key (on your keyboard) or Start button
    2. type HomeGroup, and “HomeGroup” will be on top and selected, press Enter
    3. select the blue link "Change network location"
    4. tap/click on "Yes" when prompted with
      “Do you want to find PCs, devices, and content on this network, and automatically connect to devices like printers and TVs? We recommend that you do this on your home and work networks.”
    5. optionally, you can confirm by right-clicking on the network tray icon, then left-clicking "Open Network and Sharing Center" notice it now shows "Private network"

    July 29 2015 Update

    For build 10240, which is now generally available, what we have is the same procedure as it was back on 10041 and 10159, which is the following:

    1. press the Windows Key (on your keyboard) or Start button
    2. type HomeGroup, and “HomeGroup” will be on top and selected, press Enter
    3. select the blue link "Change network location"
    4. tap/click on "Yes" when prompted with
      “Do you want to find PCs, devices, and content on this network, and automatically connect to devices like printers and TVs? We recommend that you do this on your home and work networks.”
    5. optionally, you can confirm by right-clicking on the network tray icon, then left-clicking "Open Network and Sharing Center" notice it now shows "Private network"

    Jan 03 2016 Update

    These network location change methods also work with:

    Microsoft Windows
    Version 1511 (OS Build 10586.36)

    winver-1511-cropped
    What's your Windows? Press your Win key + R, type "winver," then just press your "Enter" key.

    Jan 08 2016 Update

    Animated GIFs were removed, in favor of smaller and better looking autoplay HTML5 video, with audio (muted by default) and full playback controls, so you can pause at will, on any frame.


    Oct 18 2016 Update

    Windows 10 Anniversary Update (Version 1607, Build 14393.187) and Windows Server 2016 (Version 1607, Build 10.0.14393) have been released, and so far, I don't see any need to update the above screenshots and videos, since most of these fixes still work the same way. Admittedly, I still have further testing to do.


    Nov 07 2016 Update

    There are some UI changes in Windows 10 Anniversary Update, so updating the contents above could make the instructions a bit clearer. I will try to make the time for revisions.


    Oct 18 2017 Update

    Added Version 1709, and thankfully, it's finally gotten much easier to fix! Oddly, searching for "network location" or "network profile" in Search/Cortana still comes up with nothing. It would appear Microsoft telemetry data might not really ndicate just how many people struggle to find this setting, which keeps moving around in the Windows 10 UI between builds.

    Here's the clear new verbeage Microsoft uses in the Network profile section of Settings:

    Network profile

    • Public
      Your PC is hidden from other devices on the network and can't be
      used for printer and file sharing.
    • Private
      For a network you trust, such as at home or work. Your PC is
      discoverable and can be used for printer and file sharing if you set
      it up.

    See also at TinkerTry

    mouse-over-minimized-task-manager-and-itll-pop-up-cpu-memory-disk-and-network-utilization
    Click to learn how to auto-start this handy tray icon.

    See also

    In this Wiki page, you can see the version number consists for the first 2 digits being the year, and the second 2 digits being the month the finalized bits were released to Window Insiders, which was usually a month or two before the GA (Generally Available) date.

    • Windows 10 version history
      Wikipedia:

      Version 1507 Build 10.0.10240 GA'd on 07/29/2015, First Release/GA/RTM, codename Threshold 1
      Version 1511 Build 10.0.10586 GA'd on 11/12/2015, November Update, codename Threshold 2
      Version 1607 Build 10.0.14393 GA'd on 08/02/2016, Anniversary Update, codename Redstone 1
      Version 1703 Build 10.0.15063 GA'd on 04/05/2017, Creators Update, codename Redstone 2
      Version 1709 Build 10.0.16299 GA on 10/17/2017, Fall Creators Update, codename Redstone 3
      Version 1803 Build TBD (ETA 1Q2018), codename Redstone 4