Working With “My Network Places” in Windows

My Network Places is a network browser available in Windows XP and earlier versions of Windows that displays the network connectivity of your computer. In the later versions, it got renamed to “Network.” You can use it to connect and to access shared folders from other computers.

My Network Places has many folders and subfolders inside it including

  • Add Network Place:

The Add Network Place wizard opens up. You can use the wizard to connect to any new resource available on your network.

  • Entire Network:

It contains the links to all the computers in your network.

  • Microsoft Windows Network:

It provides access to all the computers that run on the domain and workgroups of Windows 2000 and Windows NT.

  • Directory:

It is used to access additional information about the user or the groups or computers. This information gets stored in the Active Directory on Domain Controllers.

  • Computers Near Me:

It displays all the systems that are present in your local domain or workgroup.

History of My Network Places

My network Places was formerly known as Network Neighborhood. It is a network browser in Windows Operating System.

Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 first introduced Network Neighborhood. Later it got renamed as My Network Places in Windows 2000 and the later versions.

My network Places stores a history of all the computers that have been accessed by the user. It is automatically updated. By default, it gets stored in a folder called NetHood inside each user’s user profile.

By modifying the registry, you can change the default location. It is advised to be extra careful when working with registry keys. Always have a backup of the registry keys you want to change before you begin to edit them.

With a copy of the keys, you can be sure that you can restore them to default if something goes wrong. The backed up keys, stored as REG files, can be restored by following the prompts.

To change the default storage location of NetHood, “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders” registry key and the “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders” registry key must be changed.

With the release of Windows Vista, My Network Places got renamed as “Network.”

What is Browse Master?

List of computers or network destinations in My Network Places is determined by the browse master. It is also known as the master browser.

In a workgroup that has fewer than 32 computers, one of the computers in the network is assigned as the browse master. The system strength elects a computer as the browse master.

Sometimes conflicts arise between two systems of the same strength which leads to the disappearance of the list or a particular resource. Sometimes a system can also become unreachable during conflicts.

A computer can also decline this status by disabling the Browser Service and rebooting the system. Whenever you open a new resource in a workgroup with more than 32 machines, shortcuts are created and automatically added to the list.

How to add a Network Place?

Inside the My Network Places folder, there’s an icon called “Add a network place.” Clicking on this icon opens up a wizard that helps you to add a new resource onto your network.

You can add a new network resource by either specify the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or the computer or folder name in the UNC (Uniform Naming Convention) format. You can also add a new name to identify that resource in your computer.

When you’ve finished setting up the resource, a Windows shortcut icon along with the descriptive name appears in the resource list. Along with the resources you add, Windows sometimes automatically uploads all the frequent folders in your network into the resource list.

How to remove a Network Place?

You can remove network resources in the same way we would remove any other folder from the computer. You can easily click on the icon of the resource and click delete.

When you are deleting a resource, you are deleting your access to that resource. It will not get reflected on the resource.

How to stop Windows from automatically adding resources

Windows XP periodically scans the network to find if there are any new resources available. When found, Windows XP creates a new icon for it. If the resource is a printer or fax, then it also creates an icon in the Printers and Faxes folder.

While this may be useful to make the best out of the network, it makes My Network Places hugely crowded.

Many of the resources on the network don’t provide all the privileges to every user in the network. And many users don’t require the resources that are shared.

In such cases, you can delete these resources. Instead of stopping there, you can also ask your system to stop scanning the network for new resources. To disable the automatic scan, follow the steps below.

  1. Open any one of the folders – My Computer, Windows Explorer, My Network Places.
  2. Navigate to Tools and choose Folder Options to open the Folder Options dialog box.
  3. Move to the View tab.
  4. Under the advanced settings list, uncheck the checkbox next to Automatically Search for Network Folders and Printers.
  5. Click Ok to save the changes.


My network places, a feature in Windows Explorer, is found on Windows XP and the earlier versions of Windows. It is used to browse network resources which include shared files and folders, printers shared via a network.

You can open up My Network Places by opening My Computer. Then on the left pane, under the Other Places tab, you’ll see My Network Places. Click on it to open it up.

My Network Places opens up in a new window. And you can use it to add or remove a network resource. You can also use it to search for a particular resource or to access specific shared folders from other computers.


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