Networking Windows with Mac OS X

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Be aware these instructions are quite outdated now, and will NOT work with OS X Snow Leopard! --Riverside 21:09, 13 March 2011 (EDT)

This article or section is based on a forum post written by edesignuk.

Networking Windows (2000/XP/2003*) with Mac OS X (10.3/10.4)


Before you Begin...

Since Panther, Mac OS X comes with a pretty sophisticated network discovery tool that allows other computers and printers to become accessible with virtually no configuration whatsoever, particularly in an existing home or office environment where shares and printers have already been set up. Before following the rest of this guide, which may be quite technical for the novice, see if it's even necessary.

Remote Computers

  • In the Finder, click on the Network icon in the upper left of a finder window
  • Wait a few moments.
  • You should see Workgroups or Computers begin to appear.
  • Click on one of these, and it should ask for a username and password.
  • If successful, the remote computer's share will be visible as a mounted volume

Remote Printers

  • From the Print dialog, access the Printer->Bonjour Printers menu item
  • A list of networked printers should appear. Select one and OS X will attempt to create a configuration for it
  • If successful, you should be able to print to the remotely networked printer.

If the above simple approach did not work, it probably just means the network needs to be set up. Use the rest of this article as a guide to accomplish this task, which should only need to be done once.

Information you will need to know

  • The IP Address of both your Mac and PC
  • The workgroup the PC is in (Right click on My Computer and select Properties, then click the Computer Name tab)

System Configuration

It is important that the account you log in with on your XP system has a password set, if it does not you will not be able to login to your Windows share from OS X.

You need to put your Mac in the same workgroup as your Windows PC. To do this open “Directory Access” (Applications > Utilities > Directory Access). Click on the padlock in the bottom left corner to make changes; you will be prompted for your password. If “SMB” is not checked, then check it. Select “SMB” and hit the “Configure…” button. Now enter the name of your Windows workgroup. In my case the name is “AD”.


Setting up the PC to share files

You need to create and share a folder on your PC that you will then access from your Mac. To do this create a folder (or select and existing one) right click on it from Windows Explorer and select “Properties”. Select the “Sharing” tab and share out the folder. I’d recommend you use a one word name for the share. For example “mac”, not “Apple Mac Share”, it just narrows the risk of complications.


Setting up the Mac to share files

Open “System Preferences” (Applications > System Preferences). Go to “Sharing” under “Internet & Network”, and check “Windows Sharing”, and if it doesn’t start by itself, click “Start”. This will share out your entire home folder.


If you're running Tiger (10.4), you will also need to click the "Accounts" button and check the box next to your account name so that OS X knows to share out your particular home folder.


Accessing your Mac from your PC

Click “Start > Run” and enter “\\\edesignuk”, replacing the IP address with the IP address of your Mac, and “edesignuk” with the short user name of your account in OS X. When asked to authenticate enter your Mac accounts short user name and password. All being well you should now be able to see you entire home folder on your OS X system. You can also map this share like you would any other Windows network share so that it is accessible from a drive letter.

Using WinSCP

In some cases it can be difficult to access your Mac directly from your PC. If instead you enable Remote Login on your Mac, in “Sharing” under “Internet & Network” then you can use WinSCP to access your Mac from your PC by typing in the IP address and username/password as before.

Accessing your PC from your Mac

To mount a Windows share on your Mac, click on your desktop so that Finder is the active application, from the Finder menu go to “Go > Connect to Server”. In the “Server Address” field enter “smb://”, replacing the IP address with the IP address of your PC, and “mac” with the name of the Windows share you created earlier.


When asked to authenticate enter the name of your PC in “Workgroup/Domain” (Unless your PC is part of a domain and your PC account is held on a domain controller, in which case enter the domain that you normally log on to Windows with). For “Username” and “Password” enter the username and password which you use to log on to your Windows machine with. Click ok and your shared folder should be mounted as a network drive on your desktop.


Windows Server 2003 Authentication

By default Windows Server 2003 will try to encrypt everything sent to and from it. With this enabled you will not be able to log in to the share from your Mac.

To fix this there are a couple of options.

Case 1, your server is nothing more than a regular file server. In this case open up regedit (Start > Run > "regedit" {return}), and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ System \ CurrentControlSet \ Services \ LanManServer \ Parameter \ RequireSecuritySignature, and set it's value to "0".

Case 2, your server is also a Domain Controller. In which case you need to open the DC's Security Policy (Administrative Tools > Domain Controller Security Policy). Navigate to Local Policies > Security Options, and disable "Microsoft network server: Digitally sign communications (always)" & "Microsoft network server: Digitally sign communications (if client agrees)". Reboot your sever, and you should be good to go.


A good resource for connecting Macs and Windows machines on a network