Can’t see other computers on a network? Solutions for Windows, Mac and Linux

If you try to share files between PCs on a local network, but you just can’t connect, it could indicate a problem with your network configuration. You may be connected to your network, but access to other PCs and devices on your network may be blocked.

This is often due to incorrect settings on your device or a broken network connection. Fortunately, it’s usually easy to fix if you can’t see other computers on a network. Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs all suffer from this issue from time to time, but here are some quick fixes you can use to fix the problem.

Enable Network Discovery on Windows 10

For most Windows users, the biggest cause of PCs being hidden on a network is due to the network discovery settings in Windows. If this setting is disabled, your PC will be hidden from the local network and other PCs will be hidden from you.

  • You can check if network discovery is enabled by opening Windows Explorer† In the Navigation Panel press the on the left Network tab.
  • Windows immediately warns you if network discovery is turned off. You can go to Settings > Network & Internet > Sharing Options > Enable Network Discovery to re-enable it, but Windows will conveniently provide a shortcut to enable it at the top of the File Explorer window. Tap the yellow bar that appears at the top to open a quick options menu.
  • In the options menu that appears, press Enable network discovery and file sharing
  • If your network is currently set as a public network, Windows will ask if you want to switch your network to private or otherwise allow network discovery on public networks. This is usually not recommended—if you are on your own network, select the No, make the network I’m connected to a private network option instead.

Once network discovery is enabled, you should see other computers in the Networking tab, but only if those devices also have network discovery enabled. You can also access devices directly by entering their IP address or host name in the address bar at the top of the . to type Explorer window.

Configure your firewall to allow file and printer sharing

The Windows Firewall is designed to block unnecessary traffic to and from your PC. If network discovery is enabled, but you still can’t see other computers on a network, you may need to whitelist File and Printer Sharing in your firewall rules.

  • To do this, right-click on the Windows Start menu and press Settings† In the Windows Settings menu, press Update & Security > Windows Security > Firewall & Network Security
  • In the Firewall and Network Security menu, click on the Allow an app through firewall choice.

You should repeat this process for any other third-party firewalls you use, including a network firewall (if you use one).

How to enable the computer browser service on Windows 10

This probably isn’t the cause of your problems, but if you’ve run out of software solutions to try, see if the computer browser system service is enabled and active on your PC. This is used by Windows to display local PCs on your network in File Explorer.

  • To get started, press the Windows key + R on your keyboard. In the Run dialog box, type services.mscand then press Okay launch.
  • In the Services management console window, locate the computer browser service and view its current status under the Status column. If the status is currently stopped or Handicappedyou need to re-enable it – right click and press the Properties choice.
  • Click on the Get started button to enable it in the Computer browser properties window, then select automatically below the Startup type drop-down menu to make sure it starts automatically in the future. Press Okay save.

Checking your local network configuration

If you still can’t see other computers on a network, double-check that your PC is properly connected to your local network. Do a physical check on your router cables if you are on a wired network, and if you are on a wireless network, make sure your connection to the wireless access point is active and stable.

One way to check this is by checking the ping command from a PowerShell or command line. This allows you to see if your PC is properly connected to your network and can detect other local network devices, but to do this you need to know the local IP address or hostname of another local PC.

  • To use pingright click on the Windows Start menu and press Windows PowerShell or Windows PowerShell (administrator)† In the PowerShell terminal, type ping xxx or ping hostnamesubstitute xxx and hostname with a local IP address or PC hostname.

As the ping command responds with a response, then a network connection problem shouldn’t prevent you from seeing other computers on your network. This would likely indicate a software or network configuration issue elsewhere.

  • You can test your network configuration for problems in your Windows settings: right click on the Start menu and press Settings to access this. From there, press Update & Security > Troubleshooting > Network Adapter and click Run the troubleshooter

If Windows detects problems with your network configuration, it will automatically try to fix them. For example, this can detect that a static IP address is being used for your network device. If this is set incorrectly, you will not be able to interact with other devices on your network.

  • To change this, right-click the Start menu button and press Settings† In the Windows Settings menu, press Network & Internet > Status > Change Adapter Options
  • In the Network connections menu, right click on your network device and press Properties† In the Properties windowClick Internet protocol version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and press Properties
  • In the IPv4 properties window, make sure Obtain an IP address automatically and Obtain DNS Server Address Automatically are selected and enabled, then press OkayClose to save.

It is also possible that the problem is not with your PC configuration, but with your network. For example, a function called wireless isolation (sometimes called client isolation or AP isolation) on some routers, wireless devices on a local network will hide from each other so you can’t connect to them from your PC.

You may need to refer to your wireless router’s user guide to determine how to disable this feature, but you should be able to find it under your local router’s wireless settings.

How to see other computers on the network with macOS

Apple devices are usually very good at detecting other Apple devices, thanks to the Apple Bonjour network service, and it can usually detect other Windows and Linux PCs as well. If you want to see other computers on macOS, you can do so by clicking the Network tab in the core of macOS Finder app.

  • If you can’t see other computers on your network at this time, you may need to manually connect to them. To do this, open the Finder app and press Go > Connect to Server
  • In the Connect to the server type the IP address or host name of the PC you want to connect to in the Server address box. Press Connect to connect to the server, following the on-screen instructions to provide the correct credentials to establish the connection.
  • If you can’t see the network PC after establishing a direct connection, make sure the option to view it is enabled in Finder. To do this, press Finder > Preferences from the menu bar.
  • In the Finder Preferences window, make sure the Connected servers checkbox is selected in the sidebar tab.

Once checked, you should be able to see a Connected servers tab in Finder, where your connected PC is displayed for you to access. If you can’t view or connect to another PC or Mac, or if no devices are visible in the Networking tab in Finder, this could be caused by a problem with your macOS network connection.

You can check this by clicking on the Apple menu > System Preferences > Network† In the Network settings menu, then check your connection type in the menu on the left – the icon next to your connection should be green.

If not, you’ll need to do some obvious checks (physical wiring, wifi connectivity, etc.) to reestablish your connection, then repeat the steps above.

How to see other computers on Linux

Linux software packages vary from distribution to distribution, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach if you can’t see other computers on a network from a Linux PC — at least with a graphical user interface.

To check if your PC can see other devices, you can use the arp scan network scan tool to scan your network for devices instead. This will list all available devices on your network.

  • You must first install the . to install arp scan package to run this scan. On Ubuntu and Debian-based operating systems, you can do this by running a . to open terminal and typing sudo apt install arp scan
  • Once arp scan is installed, type arp-scan -l in the terminal and press enter† If it doesn’t work, try sudo arp-scan -l instead of.

A list of available devices on your network is displayed, with IP addresses, MAC addresses, and device types. If this command works, network discovery is possible from your Linux PC and you should be able to view and connect other PCs using your Linux distribution’s file manager tool or using the terminal.

If it fails, it probably indicates a problem with your overall network configuration or firewall. You can take the usual steps (physical checks and connection tests) to try and resolve them.

If you are using Ubuntu, you can quickly view and connect to discovered network devices by using the File manager app and click on the Other locations tab.

Set up your network correctly

As our solutions above show, if you can’t see other computers on a network, there are quite a few ways to troubleshoot network connectivity issues. Most problems can be solved with an improved network configuration, including checking that your device is in a good position for Wi-Fi or, if you’re using Ethernet, that your wiring is connected correctly.

If your Wi-Fi connectivity is causing problems, switching to a fully wired network may solve the problem in the long run. Ethernet is better than Wi-Fi in certain situations, but it’s not a panacea.

Let us know your own tips and solutions for network problems in the comments below.

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