How To Easily Share Files Between Mac & Windows Computers

macnifying os x   How To Easily Share Files Between Mac & Windows ComputersFile sharing between Macs and Windows is a little lob-sided. Out of the box, Macs can detect any Windows computer connected to the local network. It appears right on the Finder’s sidebar. So naturally, it is very easy for a Windows user to share their files with anyone on a Mac. The reverse process – allowing a Mac to share its files – requires a little more attention. The transition from Tiger to Leopard has made it a little bit more complicated for regular users to set up shared folders because the setting has been “disguised”.

In this week’s Macnifying OS X, I’m going to show you how easy it is to share files on your Mac so that it appears on Windows computers automatically.

system preference   How To Easily Share Files Between Mac & Windows Computers

In System Preferences, go to ‘Sharing’ and check the box for ‘File Sharing’. By default, only your Public Folder will be shared. If you want to add other folders to the shared list, click on the ‘+’ sign under the Shared Folder box and choose the folders you wish to share.

After you’re done selecting, you’ll need to set the Permissions for each shared folder. Generally, you should allow Read Only rights to avoid others from messing around with your files. As you can see from the screenshot below, I removed the group labelled ‘Users’ from the users list so only ‘Everyone’ and I appear on the list. I do this to make things easier, only to allow guests logins from other computers.

sharing preference   How To Easily Share Files Between Mac & Windows Computers

Next, click on ‘Options’ and on the resulting window, check the box that says “Share files and folders using SMB” and hit ‘Done’.

advanced tab   How To Easily Share Files Between Mac & Windows Computers

Now, you’ll need to add your Mac into a Microsoft workgroup. To do this, click ‘Show All’ at the top of the System Preferences windows and click on ‘Network’. Select your active connection and click ‘Advanced’.

system preference highlight network   How To Easily Share Files Between Mac & Windows Computers

In the window which pops up, click on the ‘WINS’ tab and enter a workgroup in the appropriate field. Microsoft has two workgroups: MSHOME and WORKGROUP. Find out which workgroup the majority of your Windows computers belong to and set the workgroup to that.

Click on ‘OK’ and you’ll return to Network preferences, now hit ‘Apply’. Now you’re halfway there – the rest of the work is performed on the Windows machines.

advanced network pref   How To Easily Share Files Between Mac & Windows Computers

On your Windows desktop, right-click on ‘My Computer’ and select Properties. Click on the ‘Computer Name’ tab and make sure that your workgroup is the same as the one set on your Mac. If it isn’t then click on ‘Change’, set it and restart your computer.

Once that is done, double-click on ‘My Network Places’ and voila, all of your Mac’s shared folders should be visible. Take note that the Drop Box in your Mac’s Public folder won’t be accessible. If you want to use the Drop Box to let other users “drop” their files onto your Mac, you’ll need to change its permissions.

On your Mac’s Home folder, double-click the Public folder. Right-click on Drop Box and choose ‘Get Info’. Click on the lock icon on the bottom right hand corner of the Info window and enter your account password. Then set the permission for Everyone to Read & Write hence, allowing anyone to conveniently “drop” files onto your Mac.

dropbox info   How To Easily Share Files Between Mac & Windows Computers

Did you find this tutorial easy to follow? Did it work for you? Is there an easier way to share files between Mac and Windows computers?

Let us know in the comments.

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So will this tutorial work in 10.4 cause it looks like u have 10.5 running in the screenshots.


Presumably. I don’t have Tiger to mess around with. This method I posted up bypasses the need to log in to a Mac account from the Windows PC. You could easily turn on Windows Sharing in Tiger but you’ll need to enable Windows Access on an account on your Mac running Tiger, meaning that you’ll need to log in from the Windows box. Hope that wasn’t too confusing.


When i get back (out of town) to my ancient quicksilver g4 with tiger on it i will let you know if it works.


So Brian, what did you find? Did it work?


Excellent and easy way to share files, went through a few other tutorials before reaching this one and by far the best. Thanks Jackson!!!


hey! i’ve been following the tuto and I have connected my two windows machines between them, I also can see (both of them) on my leopard imac.
But, i can’t make the mac visible to the windows machines.
i’ve followed all the steps and they aren’t capable to see the mac!!

thanks in advance!


i have a problem with this, i get an error in my pc saying that windows cannot access. what should i do now??


As a new Mac user this answered my questions and solved my problem.


Thank you Jackson Chung! You have made my life easier. (:

Jackson Chung

Hi all, I’m sorry that I haven’t responded to the comments quicker. To those who are having problems, I suggest that you re-check to see if you are within the same network as your Windows counterparts and also, fix the access privileges.

To the rest, thank you very much for your comments. I’m glad that it helped.

Don Hamilton

Thanks, Jackson. I think you are the only person on Earth who understands how to do this.

Pankaj Malav

This post is really helpful. Thanks.


I guess you forgot to mention one important step that is “Select the user account checkbox to On state” after selecting Share files and folders with SMB before clicking Done. I’m not able to login until this checkbox is selected.

Also is it possible to use Sharing Only account to access a folder from windows? (Since the user accounts shown below share files and folders with SMB contains only NON sharing accounts, it may not be possible. But is there any other solution please? )


How can I share the mac files if the windows OS is installed in the sample laptop. (The scenario is I have a mac pro book and I have installed both the mac and windows OS in that)

Please help!


Very helpful. I’m up and running. Thanks.

Sheila Corneau

Very helpful post. Worked perfectly for me. I followed your instructions with my Mac with OS 10.6.2 and my PC with Windows 7.

Not much of a computer geek here – this sharing of files doesn’t go beyond the computers on my home wireless network, right? My wireless network is secure.

Thanks again.

Jackson Chung

Thanks. And no, definitely not. Shared files are only accessible within your network.


Hey, my System Preferences window doesn’t have nearly as many options as yours, and so there is no “sharing”. The closest I’ve got is “Network”

Jackson Chung

This tutorial was written for Leopard. What OS X are you running?


I got a problem for once, i can access my laptop, it’s got windows 7, but i can access my mac from my laptop. Any help?


oops, i menat i can’t access my laptop

Jackson Chung

Can you please clarify your question again?


Followed the directions, and it worked! Thanks!


This worked great for me. Really appreciate it; I was pulling my hair out over this.

Allan Johnson

Thanks for all the help here. I am a new Mac Pro convert from Windows 7. I want to transfer “Wave Files” from the PC to the Mac Pro. Can I perform this process with the above procedure and or do you have another outline? Thanks in advance.

Jackson Chung

What are “Wave files”? If you managed to set up the network as shown above, your computers will be linked and will appear in the network. If you have file sharing enabled in Windows, you will be able to transfer files over.

Allan Johnson

Thank you Jackson Chung for your article for New Mac Users. Excellent.

Allan Johnson

Jackson, I failed to ask, do I connect the Ethernet cable directly to the Mac from the PC? I apologize for my ignorance.

Allan Johnson

Thanks Jackson. O.k., the Mac Pro is wireless and receives it internet connection via Airport. The PC is connect to the AT&T Hub via the Ethernet cable.

QUESTION: What is ADHOC and what do I need to make the connection. Thank you once again for all of this great advice and quickly responding.

Jackson Chung

Are the 2 connected to the same network? If they are, then follow the steps in the article and you’re golden.

Allan Johnson

Jackson, I found your instructions clear and easy to follow. Thanks. I have not transferred anything yet, but I will. My main concern is transferring wave files into my DAW Workstation. I will let you know how all worked out. I am glad your information is free and I did not have to set up an account. Thank you sir.

Allan Johnson

Jackson, I see the Mac Drop Box in the Windows Network Places. Another question: How do I transfer the files from Windows to the Mac. Is there a list of instructions? What should I see on the iMac? In other words, where do I drag the files?

Allan Johnson

Jackson, I have an update. I have figured out my dilemma. In order to transfer files from the PC to the iMac I first must place the files I want transferred into the “Drop Box” located in the Network Places of the PC and as you stated in your instructions, “Voila!” Thanks again man. All has transferred well even the wave files I was concerned about. The files transferred much faster than just plugging the external disk into a USB Port. Thanks a million man. :0)