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Wireless data sharing is one of those things that we already enjoy, but not necessarily in the way we would like to have it. For instance, sharing Windows files and folders on a home network Connected: Your Complete Guide To Home Networking Connected: Your Complete Guide To Home Networking Just five years ago home networking was rare. Most people had only one or two network capable devices and wireless connectivity was gaining widespread adoption of the fast and reliable 802.11g standard. Read More so that data can be easily reached from a second device is relatively simple, but sending data directly from one device to another isn’t.

Email is an option, as is NFC, but not many computers support the latter which at the moment tends to be limited to handheld devices.

Two options are built into Windows, but both can be initially difficult to use. However, once you’ve become aware of them and how they can be used, WiFi Direct and Bluetooth can be called upon in most situations.

After this, it’s really a case of deciding which is best for your file transfer requirements.

Transferring a File With Bluetooth in Windows 8.1

You’ll need to ensure your computer is paired to a suitable Bluetooth device (smartphone – perhaps Android, iPhone/iPad, another computer, etc.) before sending a file to it. The methodology for this is largely the same across devices, and requires ensuring both are set to “discoverable”, searching for one with the other, and then confirming that the code is identical on each device; an explanation of how file transfer is achieved with Android was shared previously on MakeUseOf.

muo-windows-w8-wifidirect-bluetooth-search

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If you’re not sure where Bluetooth can be found on your Windows 8 computer, open the Charms menu (a basic gesture explained in our guide to Windows 8 gestures and shortcuts Every Windows 8 Shortcut - Gestures, Desktop, Command Line Every Windows 8 Shortcut - Gestures, Desktop, Command Line Windows 8 is all about shortcuts. People with touch-enabled PCs use touch gestures, users without touch devices must learn the mouse shortcuts, power users use keyboard shortcuts on the desktop and novel command-line shortcuts, and... Read More ), then Settings > Change PC Settings > PC and devices > Devices. In Windows 8.1, instead of Devices, open Bluetooth.

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With Bluetooth enabled, and your devices paired, switch to the Windows desktop and find the Bluetooth icon in the system tray/notification area. Left-click and select Send a file; you’ll be prompted to select the target device, then browse for the file. Upon sending, the device receiving your data file will ask you to confirm that you wish to save the data.

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When it finishes, you’re done!

Introducing WiFi Direct

You can think of WiFi Direct as a sort of Bluetooth over WiFi. That is, it has the same “discover and send” functionality of Bluetooth, but the data is sent using wireless networking, which thereby offers greater speed for your file transfer.

Bluetooth has been around since 1994, and although useful for transmitting audio and connecting devices (such as game controllers How To Connect Your Wiimote To Your PC How To Connect Your Wiimote To Your PC How do you prefer to interact with your computer? Sometimes a mouse and keyboard just isn’t enough. Depending on what you’re doing, a completely different interface method is required for you to get the most... Read More ) it isn’t ideal for transferring larger files. WiFi Direct has this particular problem covered.

At this stage, however, there is a problem with WiFi Direct which may limit your use; sadly there seems to be some difference in how it is implemented on different devices. As such it isn’t as universal as Bluetooth, but if you have success with it then it is a very useful feature for transferring data between Windows 8.1 and other suitable hardware.

Transfer Data With WiFi Direct in Windows 8.1

Using WiFi Direct to send a file is more or less as simple as using Bluetooth, you’ll be pleased to know. First, however, you’ll need to check that your device is WiFi Direct-compatible. You can do this by pressing WIN+R, entering CMD to open the Command Prompt (which you should probably be using more than you are The Windows Command Prompt: Simpler And More Useful Than You Think The Windows Command Prompt: Simpler And More Useful Than You Think The commands haven't always stayed the same, in fact some have been trashed while other newer commands came along, even with Windows 7 in fact. So, why would anyone want to bother clicking the start... Read More ) then entering ipconfig /all. If WiFi Direct is available you should see an entry labelled like this:

muo-windows-w8-wifidirect-cmd

Note that due to the relative immaturity of the protocol, WiFi Direct file transfers cannot be completed without a third party app. A couple are available for Windows 8.1, but you’ll probably want to get started with a free option…

Feem offers Modern and Desktop apps, as well as apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8, and you can find the various app store links at http://www.tryfeem.com/en/download.html

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With your Windows 8.1 computer connected to your wireless network, and the device you’re intending to send data to also hooked up, launch the Feem app on both. You should see your network name with a list of devices with default names assigned (these can be edited). There may also be a requirement to specify the folder that downloads (data sent to your device) should be saved in; this option can be found in the Settings screen.

To send a file, click or tap the browse button, a box with a right-pointing arrow within. You will then be able to browse your files, select one to send and click OK to commence. Seconds later the data should have arrived on your second device! Below you can see how the Android app looks.

muo-windows-w8-wifidirect-android-send

Data Transfer Speeds: Which Is Best?

You will probably notice while trying these two methods that WiFi Direct is considerably quicker than Bluetooth. Indeed, recent tests have demonstrated that Bluetooth is tortoise-like in comparison. While WiFi Direct isn’t quicker than any cable data transfer (such as USB 2.0 or USB 3.0) it is certainly capable of transferring a 1.5 GB file inside 10 minutes; in contrast, Bluetooth takes almost 125 minutes to shift the same data.

Despite the impressive speed, we wonder if WiFi Direct is really as convenient to use as Bluetooth. What do you think? Have you used either in Windows 8.1? Does the need for additional software put you off? Perhaps you’ve transferred data from your Android device or other hardware?

Let us know what you think, even if you prefer Bluetooth!

  1. Pawan K
    March 26, 2016 at 7:57 am

    But I am unable to share anything between my Mi Note3 and Dell Laptop using Shaerit.
    Please help.

  2. Mohamed Ali Gorrab
    October 17, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    What is described in this article is not related to Wifi-Direct at all. This is a basic file sending operation that involves clients connected to the same network which is not the main feature of Wifi-Direct. Wifi-Direct is meant to send files on-the-fly without even the need of a WiFi access point; its process is pretty simple: Search for the client like you search for a wifi network and hit connect (no need for password, it's called Wifi-direct for a reason :p) then choose what files to send like you do with bluetooth on your mobile, that's it!
    Too many articles that I stumble upon doesn't give a correct description of this feature.

    • Jon
      January 13, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Actualy... this article does describe wifi direct properly, however as an article there is a requirement to the minimum of words allowable. It may be best to read an entire article before responding.

      As to my response to the article itself... having used wifi direct on android to android connections, I knew that third party software is needed. Please that wifi direct does NOT bypass password protection, probably because that would create a HUGE security risk that would allow anyone to place malicious software on nearly any device.

      Knowing that one DOES need to know the password of the device to pair to (unless the scanning of a QR code is used), and knowing that both devices need matching third party software, I thank the author for the name of a reputable cross platform app for this purpose.

      As for the question, in android Bluetooth is limited in file size as well as speed. Knowing that wifi direct does not have these limitations is the reason that I needed a cross platform app for this purpose. With the security inherent in wifi, packet sniffing is the only issue (possible with Bluetooth as well). While packet sniffing isn't terribly common place, it does happen so think before you send. A good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn't want your entire family to know, either don't do it at all or at least use a transfer cable. Generally wifi direct is a great way to eliminate the need for carrying cables with you. Again, thanks to the author.

  3. Jay
    May 2, 2015 at 2:59 am

    Wifi Direct is best if your PC supports.
    if not then install SuperBeam in both Phone and PC.

    Transfer via FTP = 500 kbps
    Transfer via Bluetooth = 500 kbps
    Transfer via SuperBeam = 8 mbps (16 times faster)
    WifiDirect = 12 mbps (Much more faster)

    Unlike Wifi Direct which can transfer data directly between 2 wifi enable devices, Superbeam needs Phone and PC on same network (i.e a Wifi Router). Hence speed is slow than WifiDirect but much more faster than Bluetooth and FTP.

    Untill I used this I was usinf FTP by ES file explorer. That was easiest and user friendly.

  4. Derek
    March 2, 2015 at 10:09 am

    You can start wifi direct on your android phone. I have a GS4. Then it will show up when looking for devices on Windows 8.1. As far a laptop to laptop... same thing. Look for the device you want in.... you guessed it... devices. Then transfer what you want.

  5. nbiancalani
    February 19, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    I don't think you get the point here: these connections are internet-FREE. They are useful as long as you have NO internet, or if you need not to use it (e.g. if you don't want to consume your bandwidth). Bluetooth has pros and cons, as does Wi-Fi Direct. Improvement is what's really going to influence our preference towards one or the other method (if it really counts, in the end).

  6. Frank
    January 1, 2015 at 6:11 am

    I use Lenovo's ShareIt app, and love it! Cross platform compatible across my Apple, Windows, and Android devices. Super easy and fast! Transferring any types of files is a snap now.

  7. Wayne
    December 30, 2014 at 3:49 am

    I got the RAVPower filehub to transfer files from my camera to my mobilephone. And also media streaming on multiple devices.

  8. Rokas
    December 27, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I've got samsung tablet with wifi direct and it's awesome because you can not only send files but play music, watch videos, play multiplayer games, etc. anywhere any time, wothout real wifi

  9. ohad
    December 26, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I use ES file explorer function that turns my android into a FTP server. This is the best option i know. No third-apps strange GUI's, simply open it using native windows explorer. Very fast!

    • ReadandShare
      December 26, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      ohad - I use ES too! You can create a folder that shows your cloud files and assign it as a favorite for easy access.

      Once files are synced to the cloud, I can access them from any device using ES or FileSync or even from my WPS Office. To me, approving AirDroid one by one for each device every time I need to sync seems much more awkward by comparison.

  10. ReadandShare
    December 25, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Sad... spammers don't take any rest -- even on Christmas!

    But back to topic... each to his or her own, of course, but I've never liked using Air Droid -- how you gotta have the tablet right there because it needs to approve the connection each and every time... For me, I prefer syncing to cloud -- Box in this case -- but choices are almost limitless.

  11. Greg Marino
    December 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Blah...blah...blah...blah....blah!

    Got an Android?

    USE AIR DROID!

    End of story!

    • imadhy
      December 26, 2014 at 2:58 am

      And what if you don't have an access point ? ;)

    • Charles
      March 26, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      This article was highlighting how to transfer directly from a laptop to a phone or vice versa without access to a wireless network.

      If I want to directly use the wifi within my laptop and phone to transfer files quickly, as far as I know, there's no current options to do so.

    • ronL2k
      May 18, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      AirDroid requires an Internet connection, WiFi Direct requires only a WiFi network. Internet is unnecessary. One can also transfer files using an ES File Explorer FTP connection. Again, WiFi needed but not Internet.

  12. Fik of borg
    December 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Bluetooth transfer I get, but I don't see the need for this new WiFi Direct scheme. If you already have wifi on both devices, is not easier to use a simple public shared folder? This way you don't need any aditional software.

    • Julia
      February 26, 2015 at 3:49 am

      Some of us dont have a router or internet access. So wi direct is extremly useful.

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