Sharing Windows Files With a Mac

If you have a Mac and a Windows PC sharing the same Wi-Fi network there’s a really easy way to share files between them. You don’t need to install any virtualization software or any additional software at all as long as you’re running at least Windows 7 and at least OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

The method I’m about to describe works because your Mac is able to detect your PC as a server on the Wi-Fi network they both share.

First I’m going to show you how to locate your Windows folders and files on your Mac right in Finders. Later I’ll show you how you can give your Windows PC access to your Mac even though I don’t recommend doing that since Windows is so much more susceptible to malware than the Mac is.

How To Access Your PC From Your Mac

On your Windows PC go to Control Panel > System and Security > System to find your computer’s network name and the name of the Windows workgroup your PC is on. Jot these down as you’ll need them later.

On your Mac, open System Preferences > Internet & Wireless > Network (in Yosemite it’s just System Preferences > Network) and click Advanced. In older iterations of OS X you may need to choose Wi-Fi over Ethernet to find Advanced. In Advanced, click the WINS tab. Enter your Mac’s name in the NetBIOS box. The name may already be there. If it is leave it as it is. And then type your PC’s workgroup name into the Workgroup box. The default name is “Workgroup” duh. Click OK and close System Preferences.

Now it’s time to make the magic happen. Click the Desktop of your Mac to bring Finder into focus and click Go in the Finder menu and select “ Connect to Server”. Type “smb://yadda yadda and replace yadda yadda with the name of your Windows PC that you found in your Windows Control Panel. Click “connect” and you may or may not be asked for a user name and password.

Here is where a lot of people get confused. I did too at first. What’s being asked for is the name and password that you use to log on to your Windows machine. The username is probably your first name. The password is whatever you type into Windows everyday to unlock it. If you’ve never set a password to your account, you’ll probably need to go into the Control Panel on your PC to set one up in order to get this method of Mac to PC connection to work.

If you’ve followed the above instructions, you will now see your PC listed under Shared in Finders on your Mac. Click and enjoy.

In a post coming soon I’ll show you how you can access files on your Mac from your PC. In that upcoming post I’ll also talk about why you might want to think carefully about doing that.

If you found this information idiotic or confusing, yell at me in the comments.