Browsing a peer's content

I’m somewhat confused about how one gets a CID, in order to browse files on IPFS.

If I’m connected to a peer using the desktop GUI, how am I supposed to get their CID to browse their files?

The “Explore” tab shows some example CID’s, and if I find one in this form, or online, I can browse it, but nothing in this GUI appears to show me the full CID of the peers that I can copy/paste. If I hover over the peer ID, I can find the CID, screenshot, type it in manually… but that seems (obviously) inefficient.

PeerIDs and CIDs are different things, even though they look the same. Although sometimes you can resolve a peer ID to a CID (using /ipns/<peerID>)

You cannot browse the CIDs that a Peer is providing the network.

CIDs are provided either via DNS by IPFS-powered sites (, or by asking people or by visiting places like

@hector Just to clarify: It would theoretically be possible for a peer to have an MFS root folder that other peers could “explore” if the software apps were written to do that kind of thing.

Imagine the power of some kind of simple standard (maybe even just a URL format) where each peer could expose it’s default “MFS public root folder” (for file sharing, etc). Then by creating large public indexes of peers (like a peer whose root folder just pointed to other peers) you COULD have a world wide web of folders explorable by everyone. You could build an “internet” on top of MFS. This is similar to the vision of my Quanta platform also.

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@wclayf that’s how I thought it would work. I’d browse their root folder, and if I found something I wanted to download or pin, the download or pin wouldn’t necessary come from that individual, but from the swarm of people who had the same hashes. Going to a third party, instead of being able to ask the peer “Can I see your files?” seems like a longer, less efficient road in some cases. (Assuming you’re just browsing, and not trying to “search” for something specific using an index) But if you did want to make a small index, allowing those peers to request an index from their peers, etc. And because of the way IPFS works, I could get your index from someone else, in theory, correct? (Hash would be the same)

Right, My vision (in is that when browsing this kind of hierarchical content it can work like the web does and actually display the content of the node/file inline (for text/markdown), so you don’t have to even download a file to see it, and you’re browsing what looks like ‘pages’ of content more than just a bunch of filenames and directory listings. However, probably all this stuff belongs not in IPFS but as an application layer/protocol on top of IPFS.

That is exactly how we use it I have members of our network publishing their /public MFS folder under their peerid accessible to the world via${peerid}/public/
you can also automate the publishing via a simple webpage (assuming each one of use are running an IPFS api node on

I made a codepen to illustrate the concept :

@michelc what group are you working with? Or what project? How are you securing your IPFS API? Reverse proxy?

yes reverseproxy (ngynx + API keys)

I am working independently from swizerland and I am developing some various Dapps principally in SocialTech / CivicTech arena (FairTools project) I also coded like you a “federated wiki” on top of IPFS with the holosphere project (that was pre-covid era)

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