Share Files from Mac OS X to Windows PC’s Easily

Sep 8, 2011 - 31 Comments

Mac to Windows File Sharing 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.

Enable 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”

Enable Windows File Sharing in Mac OS X

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

Share files from a Mac to Windows PC

  • 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://

Connect to a Windows Share from Mac OS X

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.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

31 Comments

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  1. […] Share files from a Mac to Windows PC – 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 and Windows Xp, Vista, 7. […]

  2. Peter says:

    On the Windows side, I highly recommend mapping a network drive so that you can access the Mac without having to reenter the IP and credentials on each connection. Will save you a lot of time very quickly, plus it’s accessible from Explorer and file open/save menus.

  3. spook says:

    Yeah but be warned!!!!
    Lion (10.7) won’t let you share either via AFP or SMB if your discs are not formated in “Mac OS Extended” not “MS-DOS” or “NTFS” etc… so look out for your shared pendrives etc….

  4. cybex53 says:

    This works perfect with my OS X Lion & Windows 7 machines.

  5. osmac says:

    hey, Safari for Windows has a new update, can somebody read a review about it!

    And guess what, the Reading Pane is now available!! \m/

  6. osmac says:

    i mean “write a review”

  7. clasqm says:

    Seems like a lot of work, just use [cough] Dropbox [cough].

  8. ar13 says:

    Works fine between Lion and XP – watch the switch from forward to backward slashes though when entering the IP address.

  9. emer says:

    Hi!
    I can view the mac in “workgroup computers” of my pc but i cannot view the shared folders in it. i keep on entering the user name and password of the account that i created in my mac.
    Hope you could help me. TIA.

  10. Chuck says:

    For the longest time, however, sharing / mounting a Windows share on a Mac has been completely messy. I’m about to upgrade to Lion and I anticipate nothing will have changed.

    Here’s the problem: mount a Windows shared folder on your Mac. Grab some large files and copy to that Windows folder. If the files are too large — I don’t know the limit but perhaps a group of them 200mb each — OSX gives you an “insufficient” error and stops the copy. After that, you can’t mount the volume unless you restart the Mac.

    Anyone seen this?

  11. Laszlo says:

    Having the same problem as Chuck. Large files or large amount of smaller files trying to copy to a Windows share and get the same error.

  12. Paul says:

    Hi There
    I have been trying to setup today a File Server using one of my Mac Pros. I have tried Panther, Leopard and Lion (and server) and I hit a problem with all regarding file permissions. When I setup a shared directory with Everyone with Read/Write permissions (and also added the Network users as this is on a windows domain) and a user copies a file to the OS X Share the file or directory copied across permissions change to that user so others can’t access – defeating the purpose of being a file server. Any clues of how to solve – I have searched the internet for an answer.

    Paul

  13. I have been using this method for many years, most recently with a new 10.7 server I put in last fall. It was working in December.
    Now, however, perhaps after the Microsoft security update yesterday, it does not work from Vista, XP or 7.
    Something has changed, but it doesn’t seem to be anything we’ve done at this end…
    Anybody have any ideas?

  14. Frustrated says:

    hey, I’ve followed all these steps, but it does not ask me for a username, just pops up with a blank explorer window connected to the IP adress, been trying to trouble shoot this for ever… Any help would be apprechiated

  15. […] will even work for someone connecting to a shared Mac from a PC, the only requirement is a valid Apple ID, either from iTunes, the App Store, or from elsewhere in […]

  16. Marshal says:

    I have been having a nightmare trying to link my Lion OSX 10.7 with Win XP. I can see the windows files and folders no problem from the MacBook Pro, but i keep getting the message that ‘ macbook is not accessible. You might not have permission to use this network resource’ I have followed all of the instructions (file sharing enabled, SMb etc etc) have even tried it with firewall turned off and still it will not let me connect to MacBook. PLEASE, PLEASE someone help me as this is driving me crazy. PS I am new to Macs and Networking……in case you hadn’t guessed!

    • sharad says:

      Like Marshal, I am facing the same problem and not found any solution. Using Mac with Lion OS and Windows XP. I am using same login name on both machines. Able to see the shared folders on the Windows machine but not able to go into them. HELP!

      From Windows, I am able to read the shared Mac folders and even write to them. BUT not a shared exFAT partition on the Mac. It is visible but not accessible. HELP!

  17. paulthai says:

    after i typed in run box it showin error that the network path is not found… :( :( can anyone plz reply to me soon

    • Pedro says:

      i replaced my computer name (in the picture above says “Macbook Air”) by may IP address and it started working again.
      So to follow the example above, instead of using Macbook Air as the name of the computer just use “smb://192.168.1.9″ of course you will be using your own ip address but use the “smb://” anyway.
      I hope this helps

  18. Pedro says:

    Same problem here, get an error saying that the path may not be correct

  19. kenneth says:

    this working for me for few day, after i restart the Mac, window 7 no longer able to view the file. keep asking for the user name and password. try three different computer, got a same problem. please help~~~

  20. Jon says:

    Can anyone help i’ve been trying to do this but only on a bluetooth connection, my pc can already access the shared folder but can overwrite the file. it just keeps copying the file on my mac and cannot update the document to update the one on my mac. is there a way for the pc to be able to update the file from its end?

  21. Julia Tavis says:

    I made it all the way to this point:
    <>
    Windows XP is asking for me to enter “DOMAIN/username”
    What’s the domain? It’s automatically entering something that isn’t working and I don’t think it’s correct. Ugh!

    • Paul says:

      In Windows
      Enter \your mac username
      Then enter mac password
      You mac is probably not on a domain but on a workgroup so \ will be fine.

      • Mike says:

        I’m having the same problem as Julia. I don’t get to enter my username; it’s pre-formed for me in the dialog box that asks for the password.

        Also, in my sharing preferences, my Mac’s IP address doesn’t show up, just the Mac’s name, and a long (meaningless) string.

  22. […] this uses iMessage, recipients in the PC world will not be able to get the file, you would need to use standard Windows file sharing instead. But for any receiver who is in the world of Apple, this is a great way to bulk send a […]

  23. Ernesto says:

    This is a great tip! I remembered having some difficulties with SL to Vista. But Mavericks and Windows works awesome and flawless!

    Thank you for the tutorial!

  24. sneakernet says:

    On Mac OS 10.5, I dont have to check the “on” box next to the account for an SMB public share to be accessible over the LAN… but in Mavericks, it does not work either way: I can connect to an AFP share on Mavericks from a machine running Leopard, but I cannot connect to an SMB share on Mavericks from a Mac, or from an SMB client on Android, or an SMB client on my networked Blu-ray player. Mavericks is just focking broken. If it works with Windows, that must be the ONLY thing it works with.

  25. Benji says:

    I tried connecting to Win 7 PC from Mac OS X 10.9 but cannot establish connection (connection failed).What should I do?:-(

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