A desktop computer and a laptop can connect to each other over a wireless network as long as both devices have Wi-Fi adapters and connect to the same wireless access point. The Windows HomeGroup program automates the majority of the network communication and file-sharing configuration process. The two computers are able to communicate and exchange files freely after the network HomeGroup is configured. Wi-Fi Direct is an alternative setup that lets the laptop and desktop communicate directly without using intermediary network hardware.

Prepare the Hardware

Computers are typically connected to each other through a network that can be a combination of wireless and wired devices. The common wireless router is actually a self-contained networking device that handles all aspects of a small local network. If the network is going to run fully wireless, both devices need to be equipped with Wi-Fi adapters that are compatible with the same frequency bands as the wireless router. Wi-Fi devices are backward- and forward-compatible across generations, but can run on either or both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz frequencies. Both computers should have Wi-Fi adapters installed, and the router should be powered on before set up.

Configure the Network

The router itself may have model-specific configuration settings detailed in its manual or setup software: this process should be completed before connecting both computers to the network. The wireless network needs to be configured on the router in the router's setup process. After the router is set up, connect both computers to the network over Wi-Fi. To connect a computer to the router, open the Charms menu and click "Settings." Then click the "Wi-Fi" icon to bring up the networks list and select your wireless router from the list. If you've set a password for the router, Windows prompts you to enter it. Confirm the password to complete the set up and repeat the process on the second computer.

Configure the HomeGroup

To configure the HomeGroup, go on the desktop and open the Charms menu. Select "Settings | Change PC Settings | Network | HomeGroup | Create" to launch the HomeGroup setup program. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the HomeGroup configuration. During the setup, Windows gives you a HomeGroup access key that you will enter to connect other computers to the HomeGroup. Go to the laptop and open the Charms menu. Select "Settings | Change PC Settings | Network | HomeGroup" to bring up the network's HomeGroup listing. Select the existing HomeGroup and enter the access key to connect the two computers.

Share the Files

To share files, open File Explorer and locate the folders you want to share between computers. Right-click on the folder, highlight the "Share With" option and choose "HomeGroup (View and Edit)." To access the files from the other computer, open File Explorer and select "Network" from the left directory tree. Choose the other computer from the "Computer" list to view all shared folders. You can use File Explorer to copy, paste and access files on the other computer.