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How to file share a Windows PC with an Apple Mac by Ed Cooper (2003)

For the purposes of this article I will assume you have a good working knowledge of your computer. The purpose of this article is not to explain the concepts of computing or networking. I will also assume that since you are reading this, you are aware of the advantages of being able to seamlessly transfer content between 2 computers, using different platforms. Firstly it is important to note that there are many ways to do this. Most require expensive 3rd party software such as Thursby’s DAVE. However, if you have a fairly recent set up, notably Mac OS X then you can achieve this quite easily with no extra software. Here’s how ...

What you need

For the purposes of this article I will assume you have a PC running a version of Microsoft Windows and an Apple Mac running a version of OSX.
You will also require some kind of physical or wireless network to connect the two machines together. I will leave that to you.

Nnow just follow these steps ...

1. Assign the Apple Mac an IP address. Do this by selecting System Preferences from the Apple Menu. Click on Network and Show Built-in Ethernet. Click on TCP/IP and enter an IP address. If you already have an IP address, take a note of this number. If not, configure manually and enter an IP address. If you don’t know about IP addresses, just follow my lead and enter You may need to enter other information depending on your set up, but for this method of file sharing this is all you need. Click on Apply Now.

2. Now go back to Preferences and select Sharing. You need to select Windows File Sharing if this is not already activated. Now close the Preferences window.

3. Turning now to your Windows PC, select the DOS prompt (sometimes called the Command Prompt). On most recent Windows versions you can select this by clicking on the Start menu, then Run… and type cmd.

4. From the Command Prompt window, type the following text:
net use * \\\username
(The numeric IP address is the one entered in the Network control panel of the Apple Mac, and the username is the name of your user account on Mac OSX.)

5. Then press Enter.

6. The PC will attempt to connect to the Apple Mac and you may be prompted to enter a username and/or password. You should then get an onscreen message to the effect of ‘The command completed successfully’.

7. Now click on ‘My Computer’ and you will see your user folder mounted as a new drive. Provided you entered the correct user credentials you should have full read/write access to the folders contained within.

8. Now just copy files between the local PC and networked Mac by dragging and dropping in the usual way.

How it works

Apple Mac OS X adds support for an open standard called SAMBA (or SMB). Samba is a network communication protocol. Later versions of Microsoft Windows also support Samba, making it the ideal method to use for connecting the two.
This method effectively instructs the PC to connect to the numeric IP address of the Mac, then to look for your user’s home folder located on the Mac. When it finds it, your PC will attempt to mount this directory on the PC on the next available drive letter. This part is achieved by the * character in the command line. You can change the * with a letter of your choice if you wish to specify the drive letter.


This is where things get complicated. Check your network settings. As I don’t know how you use your network or what equipment you have, I can’t help you on this occasion. Sorry! This is where the free advice stops!!! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

© Ed Cooper, 2003.