How to Enable File & Printer Sharing in a Group Policy

By Gissimee Doe

Group Policies control the functioning of networked Windows computers. Without a group policy, you would have to perform manual configuration on each machine every time you need to make a change to the settings. Setting a group policy allows you to administer your systems centrally and push out changes when required. Group policies are powerful administrative tools, so you should not attempt these changes if you’re not knowledgeable in system administration.

Launch the group policy management console on your Windows server by clicking on the Windows “Start” button, typing “gpedit.msc” in the Search field and pressing “Enter.” The management console is not available on “Home” versions of Windows and a search window will be displayed instead of the console window on non-supported systems.

Expand the nodes for “Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | Network | Network Connections | Windows Firewall."

Click the “Domain profile” option and click on the “Windows Firewall: Allow file and printer sharing exception” setting. This will launch a window in which you will make the required file and printer sharing settings changes.

Click the “Enabled” radio button to enable file and printer sharing using the group policy. Type “*” in the “Allow unsolicited incoming messages from” text field to allow any machine to connect to the printer, or type a comma-separated list of IP addresses to restrict access to just the specified list of machines. Click “OK” or "Apply” to save the changes.


Be careful when making changes to your group policies. If in doubt, get an experienced system administrator to help before pushing changes out to your live network.