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I'm one of today's best-selling computer book writers, with more than 15 million books in print.

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Sharing files and photos between accounts on the same computer

The Pictures Library displays the contents of two folders: your My Pictures folder, and the Public Pictures folder, used to share photos between everybody using that PC.Q: My husband and I have separate user accounts on the same computer. But we can’t share photos with each other in our Picture libraries.

My husband copied some photos into the Public Pictures folder in his Pictures library, as you recommend in Windows 7 For Dummies.

But for some reason, that Public Pictures folder is missing from my account’s Pictures library. What’s wrong?

A: Windows likes to assign a separate account to each person that uses a PC. Although it’s a drag to type in your password each time, that simple act keeps everything more secure, locking out snooping roommates, children or office workers.

But in a family setting, it can also lock out spouses, as you’ve discovered.

To make sharing files easier, Windows 7 puts two folders in your Libraries, and one folder is named Public. Everything placed inside that Public folder is considered open and shared, making it easy for anybody on that computer to access it.

To see the public folder inside any of your libraries (Documents, Music, Photos, and Videos), click the little arrow next to the library’s name: Pictures, for example, shown above.

There, you’ll see two folders: The My Pictures folder holds your personal stuff; the Public Pictures folder holds the files you want to share with everybody who uses the computer.

But what if your Public folder is missing?

But what if you don’t see the Public folder listed listed in one of your libraries? Without that folder, there’s no easy way to share files with other people on the same computer.

If your library’s Public folder is missing, follow these steps to put it back into place:

  1. Open any folder, right-click Pictures from the Library area, and choose Properties.

The Properties window will appear, listing the folders included in your Pictures Library. If your User Account name is Jane, you’ll probably see “My Pictures (C:\Users\Jane).”
And, you probably won’t see the Public Pictures folder listed on that page. To add it, move to the next step.

  1. Click the button called, “Include a folder.” The “Include Folders in Pictures” window appears.
  2. Navigate to this folder: C:\Users\Public\Pictures. Or, if you’re having trouble finding that folder, then just type these exact words into the “Folder” area at the bottom of the Include Folders in Pictures window:


Make sure you type the slashes correctly. You want slashes that look like \ rather than /.

  1. Click the Include Folder button.

That adds the Public Pictures folder to your Pictures Library, letting you see all the photos your husband puts in his Public Pictures folder.

Follow these these steps if your Public folder is missing from any of your libraries: Documents, Pictures, Music, or Video. Just right-click on the Library’s name, and you’ll see all the folders that library contains.


Comment from Carroll Ann Palmer
Time August 16, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Fabulous Andy! I have sworn off working on my Admin acct, but after the restore backup, I wanted to gain access on another user acct w/out having to restore again to the new user acct. Easy to follow, too! Thanks

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