Article 47: Mapping Network Drives

Mapping Network Drives in Windows 7

Welcome back to the Modern Nerd. There are several tricks that you can use for shared network resources in Windows whether you are at work or at home. This was a recent discovery of mine, and I think that there is value in applying it to my own home network. Let’s explore a few of the differences that you might run into with and older operating system as compared to Windows 7.

What is a Network Drive?

A network drive is a resource that is available to your computer that is not local to your computer. This means that you need to access the local area network, or LAN, to get to it. This can be a shared folder on another active computer, a drive that is set up for universal access, or a server for your entire network.

In Windows 7, you have access to these shared resources on your network, once your Network Discovery and File Sharing is switched on. You can see them from the Network Window under Computer.

Why do they need to be Mapped?

Ok, so you can grab pictures and videos and copy and paste them to your computer. You can see shared files, but that is all through the Windows Explorer windows. If you want to point a program like iTunes or Windows Media Player to that folder, you need a physical address; one that doesn’t change or is dependent of Windows’ access to it.

Mapping a drive means assigning it a physical letter in the most basic terms. If you look at your Computer file, you will notice that the main drive is mapped as C:/. A DVD or Blu Ray Drive is D:/, and so on for your removable drives. The actual letters are not important, because they will vary based on your computer.

When you open Computer, the normal context menu’s may be hidden. All you have to do is press Alt on your keyboard to get to the Tools menu. Select Map Network Drive to get started. Navigate to the folder you want to assign as a drive. Then you will successfully be able to point a program to a folder in terms of [(Drive Letter):/].


If you want to share a video library or music library, then you can set the preferences to reflect your new drive address. If you have a shared email program or shared access to a remote server that requires a physical address, then you can be assured that the drive letter will not change. This is important to ensure that your programs do not have to constantly be reconfigured.

The mapping of these folders is important if you want to make sure that older versions of Windows, like XP, can play nice with 7. There are a bunch of applications for this; you can also consider it as options in troubleshooting as well when trying to access off-computer resources.  

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Aaron Krick
Blog Contributor at The Computer Fixer


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