Sharing stuff between your Mac and PC is by no means a novel notion but just because something isn’t new doesn’t necessarily mean everyone knows how to do it.
For example, did you know if you own a Dell PC you don’t need to flip over your laptop or contort your head in odd positions to find the little service tag sticker ID? Yeah, you can get all that Service Tag goodness from the cozy command line. This has been a Dell feature for ages; yet, I only discovered it about a year ago.
In the same way, although Macs and PCs are generally loathe to play together; in recent years both have learned to not only acquiesce with each others differences but also thrive and live together peaceably.
In this guide I’m going to show you a quick and dirty trick for sharing files between your Mac and PC. I’m using Mac OS X Mavericks (10.9) and Windows 8.1; however, the steps are also befitting for Windows 8 and Mac OS X Mountain Lion.
Making your Stingy Mac Share
Fine, let me back up for a moment.
It’s not that Macs are averse to sharing stuff with PC’s; it’s just that it’s not entirely straightforward. There are few things that need to happen before you can transmute your stingy devices into sharing devices.
Both computers need to:
- Live on the same network
- Speak the same language
- Exist in the same Workgroup
Get on my network baby
First we just need to make sure both computers are on the same network then we’ll make sure both computers are talking the same language. Generally speaking, being in the same network means that both computers share the same IP Address prefix.
For example, if your PC has an IP address like 192.168.0.1 and your Mac has the address 192.168.0.2 then both of these guys are on the same network because the first three octets, the prefixes, are identical.
Speak my language girl
I speak CIFS, wanna go out?
Haha, let me cut it out, I’m feeling silly.
So, since the early 90’s, whenever Windows machines wanted to share files or printers over the network they would speak a language known as CIFS (Common Internet File System).
CIFS eventually evolved into the Server Message Block (SMB) which is just a fancy name for the protocol or rules that PCs adhere to when exchanging files over a Local Area Network.
Now, although the native tongue for Macs is the AFP (Apple Filing Protocol), Macs also speak SMB; however, the advent of Mac OS X 10.9, also known as Mavericks, inaugurated a bug that broke SMB 2.0 connectivity with Windows computers. As a workaround, you can hook up with Windows PCs using the legacy CIFS protocol.
On your Mac press Command+ k then enter the IP address of your Windows PC with the following prefix:
My PC has IP address 172.31.77.51 so I entered cifs://172.31.77.51/
Alternatively, you can update to Mac OS X 10.9.3 which allegedly fixes the SMB 2.0 problem.
To share files on your Mac with your PC, kick open System Preferences, click on Sharing (it’s the third row down) then, in the left pane, plop a check mark in File Sharing.
In the right pane you’ll see the IP address of you Mac under the green File Sharing icon.
Take note of that IP address because you’ll need to enter it on your PC in a minute.
But before we do that, we need to make sure SMB is enabled on your Mac. We also need to enter the password of the user account that will be doing the sharing.
Click the Options… button on the right side of the Sharing window and make sure Share files and folders using SMB is checked. You can also place a check mark next to the accounts you want to share or access from your PC. In my case it’s the faithful ol’ admin account.
Work in my group baby
Finally, on your Mac go back to System Preferences and click Network. We need to make sure both computers are in the same Workgroup so they can communicate.
Think of a Workgroup like a bunch of computers hanging out on the same network.
It’s like a pub for computers.
Most Workgroups are fairly small, no more than a dozen or so computers, and are quite limited so you won’t find them in a business context; however, they’re apt for home users.
I’m going to assume that you’re using Wi-Fi (seriously, who uses wired connections these days?) so click the Wi-Fi adapter in the left pane of your Network Settings (if you’re one of the hapless few still using a wired network connection click the Ethernet adapter labeled either Ethernet, USB Ethernet or sometimes called Thunderbolt Ethernet).
In the bottom right corner of the Network window choose the Advanced button… then click the WINS tab in the bar along the top of screen and enter a Workgroup name. It can be virtually anything you want (I prefer “VONNIE ROCKS” but hey that’s just me) as long as both computers are in identical workgroups.
I just named mine the banal word: Workgroup because that’s also the default Workgroup name for my PC.
By the way, you can view all your shared folders and accounts and folders under the Shared section in the Finder.
Now back on your PC, you can connect to your Mac by pressing Windows Key + r and entering the IP address like so:
When you’re prompted for a password enter the username and password of the account that you enabled on your Mac.
I should also mention that you can also use the hostname of computer’s instead of the IP addresses. So for example, on your PC, press Windows Key + x + c and type:
Similarly, on a Mac you can enter the same hostname command after pressing Command + Spacebar and typing the word terminal
Here, you can see my hostname is ws03fbv1.local.
If you want Windows to automatically search for computers that are sharing stuff on your network press the Windows Key to leap over to the Start Screen and then type:
advanced sharing settings
Expand the first heading, the Private option.
Put a bullet in Turn on network discovery and click Save Changes at the bottom to finish up.
Now when you press Windows Key + e and click on Network in the left pane your Mac should show up in the right pane. If you don’t see the Network option for some reason press Alt + v + n to enable the Navigation Pane.
The Bottom Line
Hey, you know that loquacious geek friend of yours who acts like he knows everything and isn’t afraid to deprecate everything Apple creates? And you know that Mac maniac who is a former Genius Bar employee who denounces everything Microsoft does?
Ignore both of them.
Both PCs and Macs have their foibles but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make them coalesce into a force for good. As long as you know which buttons to press and which levers to pull, it’s easy to share stuff between both computers.
When you want to share files between both computers just make sure they live on the same network, speak the same language and hang out at the same pub (Workgroup).
Ultimately, Macs may never fall love with PCs and PCs may never becoming infatuated with Macs; however, with a little poking through our system settings we can make the two conciliatory.
I hope this little guide helped you! If so, please share what’s on your mind in the comments! And hey, if it didn’t help you, incendiary comments are also welcome! I like people who disagree with me – it makes life interesting.
Sycophants are boring.