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September 16, 2010

How to Share Files Between Mac and PC: Snow Leopard and Windows 7

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If you have multiple computers on your network, it’s safe to say that you probably want to share information between them. Windows 7 makes sharing between other computers with Windows 7 on them easy with the new Libraries system, allowing you to share images, videos, and more with ease.

However, what happens when you bring a Mac with the latest and greatest OSX install into the mix? In this article, I’ll show you how to set up your Mac and PC — Windows 7 and Snow Leopard — to share your files with ease.

File Sharing: Speaking the Right Language

The first thing you’ll need to know about file sharing, is that not all methods are the same. While they all do the same basic job, they each speak a different language, so to say.

For example, AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) is a great way to share files between Macs, quick and easy; but Windows doesn’t understand AFP and therefore can’t send or receive with the protocol.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a nice way to share files and works on both Macs and PCs, however, this protocol is used mostly for client to server transfers, and doesn’t handle files as easily as other protocols.

Sharing Files between Mac and PC

NFS (Network File System) is a Unix-based protocol that most Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices use to share files. While this is a good choice, it’s not necessarily the easiest to set up.

Finally, there is the SMB (Server Message Block) or CIFS (Common Internet File System) protocol. This protocol is not only the easiest to set up, but also a lot faster in most cases than other protocols.

To share files between our Snow Leopard Mac and Windows 7 PC in this article, we’ll be using the SMB protocol.

Sharing Files Between Mac and PC: Setup on Snow Leopard

Sharing Files Between Mac and PC: Setup on Snow Leopard

The first thing we’ll want to do is set up a sharing account on our Mac. This can either be your personal account, or a separate account made specifically for this purpose.

After you’ve made the account, go to System Preferences –> Sharing and check the File Sharing box.

Once file sharing is turned on, we need to tell it what type of protocol we will be using. Click on Options (on the right side of the window when File Sharing is clicked) and make sure to check the box Share files and folders using SMB (Windows).

Sharing Files Between Mac and PC: Setup on Snow Leopard

Next we’ll want to choose what is shared with who. Close the options box and you should see the “Sharing” screen again. This step is fairly self explanatory, you’ll basically want to add folders you want to share on the left, and choose who to share them with on the right along with Read and Write privileges.

Sharing Files Between Mac and PC: Setup on Snow Leopard

The final step is often overlooked, but very important in connecting to your Windows 7 based PC.

Go back to your System Preferences and click on Network. Choose the connection you’ll be using (Airport for wireless, Ethernet for wired, etc.) and click Advanced. You’ll see a few tabs up top including “WINS” right in the middle. On this tab, choose your Windows workgroup. Without doing this, neither computer will be discoverable.

Sharing Files Between Mac and PC: Setup on Snow Leopard

Sharing Files Between Mac and PC: Setup on Windows 7

The first thing you’ll want to do on the Windows 7 side is ensure that you are on a private network. This will usually be the “Home” setting in the network settings, but can be “Work” as well. Public makes sure things are a bit safer when sharing files.

Sharing Files Between Mac and PC: Setup on Windows 7

Next, you’ll want to enable Network Discovery, this can be found in Windows 7’s Advanced Sharing Settings. This page also lets you view other sharing options, so go through them carefully.

Sharing Files Between Mac and PC: Setup on Windows 7

To edit your Workgroup name, go into your System Properties and click Change. Make sure this name, and the name you set on your Mac, is the same or the computers won’t be able to find each other.

Now you will need to set up your user account for sharing. This can be done on your current user account, or you can create a new one made specifically for sharing.

Once you know the account to be used to share files, you can start picking and choosing what folders to share.

Find a folder you would like to share, right click it, and choose Properties. There is a Sharing tab up top which will bring you to the folder’s sharing permissions and properties.

Here you can add users to share with and choose similar permission levels including both read and write permissions.

Connecting Windows 7 to Snow Leopard

Now for the fun part, accessing files that are on your Mac, with your PC. In an Explorer window in Windows 7, click on Network. If everything went as planned, you should see other computers on your network, including your Mac.

When you double click on your Mac, you’ll be prompted with username and password fields. This is another part where a few people have had mix-ups. For the username, you’ll need to input your Mac’s information as follows:

Username: NameOfMac/Username
Password: password

For the username, you need to first input the name of the Mac, followed by a backslash and the username to the account set up for sharing on the Mac. The password is simply the password to said account.

Connecting Snow Leopard to Windows 7

Connecting your Mac to your PC is just as simple. In Finder, or when on your Mac desktop, simply click on Go –> Connect to server. Alternatively, using the command Command + K shortcut will also bring up the Connect to server prompt.

How to Share Files Between Mac and PC: Windows 7 and Snow Leopard

In this box, type in smb://NameOfPC and click Connect. This will bring up a Mounting box (after entering your name and password) for which folders you would like to mount. Choose the ones you would like to access, and click OK. The folders you chose will now be accessible from your Mac desktop and Finder menus.

Conclusion

There are many other ways to share files between Windows 7 and Snow Leopard, but I found SMB/CIFS to be the easiest and most straightforward method of sharing, allowing you the most access to your folders and their contents (for example, mapping to drive letters on a PC, and setting auto-connects at login on a Mac) with a fairly simple setup process.

I hope you enjoyed this guide to sharing files between Windows 7 and Snow Leopard, have fun!

Oh, and if you’re interested in learning how to share files between your Vista and Leopard machines, check out this article How to Share Files between Mac and PC — Leopard and Vista.

About the Author

is a computer technician with over 8 years of experience in the IT field. He has completed training in CompTIA A+, Network+, Computer Business Applications (Microsoft Specialist), Web Page Design and Graphic Design, and is working on completing his CompTIA A+ and CCNA certifications. Mike has experience working as a computer technician for two local school districts, as well as freelance computer repair work with AlisalTech.com, which Mike owns. Music is another one of Mike's callings. Using his technical experience, Mike promotes local musicians in Salinas California through his website SalinasRadio.com where local musicians and businesses can gain promotion to a worldwide audience.

Author's Website: http://alisaltech.com


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