For example, if you want any user to have access to a file, you can place it in the shared documents folder. This can be handy if you share a computer with other family members or co-workers who each have unique log on identities. For example, in a family situation, one PC may be set up for all members of the family yet each member has their own settings. If you want to create a calendar for all family members to access, placing it in the shared folder ensures that everyone can access it no matter who is logged on to the computer.
All you need to do is move or copy a file or folder to the Shared Documents folder and other family members or co-workers who use the PC can access them.
The files in a shared folder are available to anyone who might use your computer.
If you want to be able to share files and folders using a shared folder, open My Documents, click on the file (or folder) you wish to share and drag it to the Shared Documents located in Other Places.
While this may be desirable in some cases, having the shared documents folder displayed so easily in the My Computer window means anyone with basic computer exploring abilities can readily get into it, possibly even someone using a "Guest" account.
You can remove the shared folder from being displayed in the My Computer window if you know the trick to doing it. It's not something that is intuitive; in fact, you have to work with special editing utilities that come with Windows XP in order to get around this.
If you wish to restrict the display of Shared Documents from the My Computer window, you can do that in Windows XP Professional by using the Group Policy Editor. In Windows XP home, you will need to use the Registry Editor.
For Windows XP Pro, click on the Start Button, click Run and type: gpedit.msc
Go to User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components and choose Windows Explorer. Find the Remove Shared Documents from My Computer option and double click it. Place a check box in Enabled and click OK.
For Windows XP Home edition, you need to edit the registry. Before beginning, back up the registry because any time you work in the registry, you risk errors. To make a back up, open the registry editor by going to the Start Button, choose Run and type in: regedit
Now go to File and choose Export.
Save a backup of the registry.
Now that you have a good backup, click your way to:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software \Microsoft \Windows \CurrentVersion \Policies \Explorer
To do this, find the HKEY_CURRENT_USER folder and open it, find the Software folder and open it, find the Microsoft folder and open it and continue until you've navigated all the way to Explorer.
Now, right-click in the white area in the right pane as shown by the arrow. Select New and pick "DWORD Value".
Name it NoSharedDocuments and then right-click on NoSharedDocuments to modify it. Give it a value of 1.
Reboot your computer or log off and log back in again. Now when you look in My Computer, you will no longer see the shared documents folders.
The nice thing about this registry edit compared to other registry techniques for removing the shared folders is that you can reverse this by removing the NoSharedDocuments entry you made earlier. Other techniques involve permanently removing a certain registry key. While removing that particular key achieves the same effect, it is permanent unless you care to restore your backup. With this technique, you simply can remove the NoShareDocuments or change the DWORD value to zero.