How To: Share files from your Surface Tablet

This post is going to cover how to share files from your Surface tablet. Let’s face it, having all of your files on your Surface is awesome for convenience but sometimes you need to use them on another computer or let someone else see/edit them.

Fortunately, there are several different ways to share files from your Surface RT or Surface Pro. We’re going to cover a few of them as they each have some advantages and disadvantages over the others.

Let’s get started…

Share Files via USB Key

Sharing files by simply copying them to a USB key and handing it to someone is about the most basic and easy way to share files. The biggest drawback is that you’re only able to share files with people in the same room unless you want to take a trip to the post office.

[table sort=”desc,asc”]

The Good,The Not So Good
Easy to share files between computers you use,Can only share files with someone in the same room

Does not require a network connection,

USB Keys are cheap,


Share Files via Cloud Storage

Sharing files via cloud storage is probably the easiest way to transfer files between computers you own. This is especially true if your’re using SkyDrive (since it’s built into Windows 8.x) but there are other cloud storage systems out there that you could use. Dropbox, for example.

We’ll touch base on using Skydrive to do this. I’m not going to cover it in step-by-step detail but will point you in the right direction if you’ve never done this before. Other cloud sharing programs will work similarly; so if you understand how to use Skydrive, you should be able to work with any of them.

  • Make sure you’re logging into your Surface Pro or Surface RT using a Microsoft account.
  • Make sure you have installed the Skydrive client on your other computers if they don’t already have it. They have versions for Windows, Mac, iPhone & Android. Alternatively, you can simply go to and access it via a web client.
  • In either case, you’ll need to log in with your Microsoft account to make sure you’re looking at the same Skydrive folders.
  • From you can share individual files or folders with other people. You can also configure it to let them have read only access or the ability to edit the files you share. Just right-click on individual files or look for the “share” option on the toolbar.
[table sort=”desc,asc”]

The Good,The Not So Good
Easy to share files between computers you use,Requires internet connection to work even if you’re copying to computers on your LAN

Easy & convenient, Limited capacity. Might not allow you to transfer very large files depending on your cloud storage capacity (by default Skydrive is 7GB)

Doesnt require extra hardware (like a USB key), Can be a little slow


Share Files via the Built-in Share Charm

With a Share charm build into Windows 8, you’d think this would be an easy way to share your files but it has some limitations.

First, it doesn’t work for everything and not always as expected. For example, it will work to share pictures from the Metro Photos app. However, it won’t let you share anything when in desktop mode. Keep in mind you’re not actually sharing your files from here, you’re sending them to another program to be shared (depending on what you’re trying to share and what you have installed) or emailing them.

As a bonus feature, it is an easy way to capture screenshots. That option appears if you’re in desktop mode or if you don’t have any files selected in Metro.

  • Select the item you want to share In this example, I’m going to share a funny picture from Kerbal Space Program from within the Photos app in Metro.

  • Swipe in from the right to bring up the Charms Menu and tap the Share charm.

  • Select the program you want to use to share the file. In this case, I’m going to email it to myself.

  • Share the file using the selected program.

[table sort=”desc,asc”]

The Good,The Not So Good
If what you’re trying to share is supported it’s very easy to use,Doesn’t support sharing of files from the desktop

Can be used to easily capture screenshots,


Share Files by Creating a Shared Folder

This is one of the “old school” ways to share files. It’s probably the most complicated to get setup but, it does have it’s advantages. For example, you can easily give different people different rights to the share so you can have some people who can edit files and some can’t. On top of that, your computer can record who accesses your files in the Windows Event Logs. Also, Shared folders don’t care if you’re in Desktop or Metro mode once they’re setup.

As is so often the case with Windows, there are multiple ways to setup sharing. In this example, we’re going to share a folder using the “Specific People” functionality. We’re sharing it this way because it doesn’t require the people you’re sharing with to be in your Homegroup nor have an account on your Surface.

It does, however, require them to have a Microsoft account but this is a pretty low bar.

  • Open File Explorer by swiping in from the right edge of the screen and tapping Search. 

  • Enter “File Explorer” in the search box, tap Apps, and then tap File Explorer.

  • Open the Documents folder.
  • Create a new folder under Documents and call it Shared.

  • Select the Shared folder you just created.

  • Tap and hold (or right-click if you have a mouse) on the Shared folder until the right-click menu appears. Select the Specific People option.

  • The File Sharing window will appear.

  • One by one, fill in the Microsoft accounts for the people with whom you wish to share and tap Add after each entry.
  • Assign each person either Read or Read/Write permissions depending on how much access you want them to have.

  • Click Share when you’re done adjusting permissions.
  • A window will appear informing you that your folder is now shared along with some useful information such as a link to email the shared folder path to someone.

  • Click Done.

That’s it. your folder is now shared. Any files you drop in the folder will be automatically available to the folks you designated. In order for them to get to it, however, they will need to map a drive.

[table sort=”desc,asc”]

The Good,The Not So Good
Can assign different permissions to different people,Is a bit of a pain to set up

Is available anytime your Surface is on the network, Requires mapped drives to connect to the shared folder


Hope you found this helpful and, as always, if you have questions please let me know.


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