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Share Files from Mac OS X to Windows PC’s Easily
If you have a mixed network of Mac and Windows PC’s, chances are good that you’ll be wanting to move files between the two operating systems. The easiest way to share files from Mac OS X to Windows is to enable Samba support for a given user account on the Mac.
Samba (SMB) may have a funny name but it’s essentially just Mac OS X to Windows file sharing support. Because it’s not required by all Mac users or for Mac-to-Mac sharing, it’s actually a separate unique sharing option within OS X’s File Sharing panel, and enabling it allows a Windows PC to connect to the Mac without any additional software. Let’s cover exactly how to enable it, and then how to connect to a shared Mac from a networked Windows PC so that you can swap files back and forth with ease.
\\188.8.131.52Enable Mac to Windows File Sharing in OS X
- Launch “System Preferences” and click on “Sharing”
- Click the checkbox next to “File Sharing” to enable it
- Once File Sharing is turned on, select it and then click on the “Options…” button
- Click the check box next to “Share files and folders using SMB (Windows)”
- Now click on the checkbox next to the user accounts you want to share or access from Windows – when you click to enable SMB sharing on a user account, you will be asked for that users password
- Click on “Done”
With SMB enabled, we now can connect from the Windows PC to the Mac. If you already know the Macs IP address you can skip this first part of this and go directly to the Windows PC to access the shared users directory.
Connect to the Mac File Share from a Windows PC
- Back at the ‘Sharing” system preference panel, take note of your Macs IP address as seen below, discard the afp:// portion and pay attention to the numbers in the format of x.x.x.x
- From the Windows PC connecting to the Mac:
- Go to the Start menu and choose “Run” or hit Control+R from the Windows desktop
- Enter the IP address of the Mac in the format of \\192.168.1.9\ and choose “OK”
- Enter the shared Mac OS X users login and password and click on “OK”
Access to the shared Mac directory and user files appear as any other folder within Windows. You’re free to copy or access individual files, or perform more substantial tasks like moving an iTunes library from a Windows PC to a Mac.
This process of connecting to the Mac should be identical from Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, and Windows 8 or RT, and enabling file sharing on the Mac is the same in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.7 Lion, 10.8 Mountain Lion, and OS X Mavericks, versioned as 10.9. SAMBA has been a supported Mac protocol for a very long time, so technically you will find that older Macs and OS X versions will also be supported by this.
Connecting to a Windows PC from a Mac
Going the other direction, you can connect to a Windows Shared PC very easily from a Mac running OS X:
- From the OS X Finder, hit Command+K to summon “Connect To Server”
- Choose the “Browse” button to browse the available network shares, double-clicking on the share to enter a login
- OR: In the “Server Address” field, simply enter the IP of the Windows share to connect to preceded by smb://
For example, to connect to a Windows share at 192.168.1.115, the smb address would be: smb://192.168.1.115
Note that an issue with some versions of OS X Mavericks causes smb:// to use Samba2 rather than Samba1, which may cause connection errors with some servers. If you run into such a problem connecting to a NAS or SMB Windows share from OS X 10.9 Mavericks, you can forcibly use Samba1 with the cifs:// prefix like so: cifs://192.168.1.115
What about the .DS_Store files?
Depending on the Windows PC settings, you might see a bunch of .DS_Store files on the Mac file system. These are normal but if you’re peeved by them, you can disable .DS_Store files by entering the following defaults write command in OS X’s Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.desktopservices DSDontWriteNetworkStores true
If you want them back, just switch that to ‘false’ at the end.
Connect to SMB & NAS Network Shares in OS X Mavericks
Oct 30, 2013 - 10 Comments
Sharing files between Macs and NAS drives and Windows PC’s has always been very easy, but Mavericks brought a slight change that has caused some problems for certain users in mixed PC and Mac environments. Without getting too geeky, Apple adjusted the default protocol for SMB (Samba, the Windows file sharing ability) from SMB1 to SMB2, and the SMB2 implementation apparently carries a bug which is incompatible with many NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices, and some versions of Windows. The issue is pretty obvious when you encounter it: Many Windows PC’s, NAS drives, and Linux machines won’t access or mount from the Mac, and instead will try to connect or mount forever and ultimately time out, preventing connections, mapped drives, and general access.
Fortunately there’s a very easy workaround to connect to SMB and NAS shares from OS X Mavericks:
- From the OS X Finder, hitCommand+K to summon “Go To Server” as usual
- In the “Server Address” field, enter the IP to connect to with the cifs:// prefix as follows:
- Connect to the SMB, NAS, or Windows share as usual
Yes it really is as simple as specifying the protocol to be cifs:// rather than smb://, which if you’ve ever mounted Samba shares from the command line you’ve probably already used cifs before.
If you’re wondering why this works, it’s because using CIFS connects with SMB1 rather than the (currently) buggy implementation of SMB2. The result; cross-platform network shares functioning as usual. I ran into this last night and it was fairly frustrating to experience, but a big thanks Todd Pilgrams on the Apple Discussion Boards who discovered the simple workaround a few days ago. Because there are tons of Mac-to-PC networks out there, this will probably be a frequently encountered issue for many Mavericks users. With that said, going the other way around and file sharing from Mac OS X to Windows continues to work exactly as intended, though it should be noted that OS X Mavericks has seamlessly moved all network-based Mac-to-Mac file sharing to SMB2 as well, though the traditional AFP continues to function as well for legacy support and for connecting between Mavericks and earlier versions of OS X.
This really is just a bug with the newest version of Mac OS X, and it will probably be resolved shortly with an update to Mavericks, perhaps as OS X 10.9.1 or even a smaller supplemental update.
How to Mount a Windows PC Shared Folder On a Mac
Mar 27, 2007 - 2 Comments
Love it or hate it, but we live in a multi-platform world with multiple operating systems. Sure we prefer Mac’s, but the chances are high that at some point you’ll have to interface your Mac with a PC to share files between the two machines, particularly if you are in an office environment or school. Heck, even at home, many of us have old PC’s around still with tons of files on them, even if they’re mostly collecting dust. This begs the question; “can you easily mount a Windows PC shared folder to your Mac?” – the answer is; you bet, and it’s quicker than you might think!
Sharing files between Mac OS X and Windows is much easier than it used to be thanks largely to Samba technology. Samba (shortened to SMB often) is built right into OS X, so if you’re on a Mac and already have a Windows PC with sharing enabled to connect to, you just have to do the following quick 4 step process. Yes, this works in all versions of OS X, and to connect to all versions of Windows.
Mount Windows Shares on Mac OS X
This will mount a specified Windows computer share to the Mac as an accessible file server:
- From the Mac Finder (the file system), choose the “Go” menu and select ‘Connect to Server’
- Enter the IP of the Windows PC prefixed with smb:// as shown in the screen shot*
- Connect to that server and log in using the appropriate Windows login credentials
- Select the available volumes / shares you want to mount (this may be folders, devices, drives, networked shares, the credentialed user directory, etc)
- You can now browse the mounted Windows file system and share files, drop anything into the window to copy it over – the mounted PC share works just like a folder on your Mac would
* For example, to mount the Windows PC located at “192.168.1.11” you would enter the following URL with smb prefix: smb://192.168.1.11
You’ll find the connected PC in your “Shared” sidebar item list, and also in the Network directory at the root of the Mac. Apple has a bit of a sense of humor, and shows Windows PC’s as an old fashioned beige box CRT monitor with a blue screen of death, making a PC easy to identify:
If it’s desired you can also do the Mac equivalent of mapping the network drive so that it maintains on the desktop or upon boot, but that’s a matter of user preference.
Of course, if you don’t have sharing setup yet, this is a step ahead of where you are – not to worry, we have a few super easy guides to follow that will get you there. This article on setting up and sharing Files from Mac to Windows is a great place to start. These days, networking is certainly not rocket science, so even if it sounds somewhat complicated don’t shy away from setting up your own network, because you’ll be able to quickly share stuff between whatever OS versions you have in use. All you need is a local network which most users do these days thanks to a wi-fi router, your Mac, and a Windows PC.
You can get additional details on Mac OS X & Windows networking from the following sources and walkthroughs:
- Share files from a Mac to Windows PC – our own guide covers enabling file sharing on the Mac and then connecting to the Mac from a Windows PC. Works with OS X 10.6 and 10.7, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, OS X Mavericks, Yosemite, and Windows Xp, Vista, 7, Windows 8.
- LifeHacker: How to mount a Windows PC – the Lifehacker guide is intended for Mac users looking to mount a Windows PC on their own computer, this is also possible in our own guide, but lifehacker handles things slightly differently.
We’re partial to recommend the OSXDaily edition, but the LH approach of only mounting a server is useful too if you don’t need as much of an indepth tutorial, a complete walkthrough of the setup, and a general overview for Samba and Windows to OS X sharing. Let us know if you have any questions or comments!