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What Is “Nearby Sharing” in Windows 11 and 10?

With Nearby sharing, Windows 11 and Windows 10 (version 1803 or higher), PCs can share documents, files, links to websites, and more by utilizing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.

Functionally, for the most part, Nearby sharing in both versions of the Windows OS behaves the same way; however, the UI is a little different between the two.

Regardless, to understand what this feature is, this post will demonstrate how Nearby sharing works & operates in Windows 11.

How To Leverage & Operate Nearby Sharing in Windows 11

Step 1

The first step to using Nearby sharing in Windows 11 is to turn it on — while ensuring that the device you want to share items with has it enabled too.

To get there, from the main settings, navigate to: System > Nearby sharing.

Step 2

Then, using some file-sharing as an example, head over to File Explorer. Next, pick out the file you want to share and right-click on it.

Step 3

Upon the right-click, Windows will invoke its context menu. In there, look for the “share” icon on the top horizontal bar — one left to the delete icon. (see image screenshot for reference).

Windows 11 nearby sharing share icon for a file
Windows 11 Nearby sharing share icon for a file.

Step 4

Selecting the share icon will open a dialog box whereby you can share that file via:

  1. Nearby sharing
  2. Email a contact
  3. Share with app

Each of these options is divided by its own section, and given the context of this post, you will focus your attention on the “Nearby sharing one.

share dialog box for a file in Windows 11
Share dialog box for a file in Windows 11. For all intents and purposes of this post, the focus will be on “Nearby sharing.”

Step 5

If the device you want to share to also has Nearby sharing turned on, it will appear in the dialog box. So as your last step, select that device to transfer the file.

On the other side, the device/PC receiving the file will get a notification saying someone shared a file.

As an example of how that notification looks like, see the image below where a Windows 10 device shared a website URL with a Windows 11 device.

an example of a link share notification because of using nearby sharing in Windows
An example of a link share notification because of using Nearby sharing in Windows.

Common FAQs Regarding Windows Nearby Sharing

Can I Use Nearby Sharing Between Windows 11 and Windows 10, or Does It Have To Be the Same OS Version?

Nearby sharing will work between compatible PCs as long as the devices have that feature. It is independent of whether one has Windows 10 or 11. In other words, someone with Windows 10 can use Nearby sharing with another who has Windows 11, and vice-versa.

Is Nearby Sharing Safe?

Absolutely. Windows does not require anyone to share any personal information to use this attribute of their OS. It’s a straight, no-nonsense sharing convenience that any accordant device can benefit from. Do note that the name of your PC is what others will see, but that’s about as personal as it gets. Although, the name can easily be changed.

Is Nearby Sharing On by Default in Windows?

The answer is no. It makes sense as Windows does not want to assume that you’re open to getting your PC discovered by others. So as far as privacy is concerned, the default stance is to err on that side.

How Does Windows Know Which Are “My Devices” and Which Are Everyone Else’s in Its Nearby Sharing Service?

It’s a little unclear, or rather, I couldn’t find much explanation around it. Howbeit, an educated guess tells me that devices on the same Wi-Fi are considered “my devices,” and those that aren’t, probably fall into the other category. It’s possibly for this reason that Nearby sharing uses a combo of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.

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Are You Sharing Things With Windows Nearby Sharing?

Fast, convenient, and hassle-free are the words that come to mind when describing Nearby sharing in Windows. It actually reminds of a time when Bluetooth sharing between two mobile devices was a new cool thing in town about 10-5 years ago.

Similar in fashion and behavior, Windows’ Nearby sharing is equally thrilling if not more, expedient — in a good way, and agreeable to the modern generation.

Expert Source: Microsoft