Mac Windows

How to Easily Share Files Between Mac and Windows

Dan Price Updated 07-12-2019

Do you need to transfer files from Mac to Windows? Don’t worry; it’s a straightforward process.


There are a few different approaches you can take. You can easily do a Mac to Windows file transfer using both operating systems’ native tools. Alternatively, there are a few third-party solutions worth checking out.

Below we explain how to transfer files from Mac to Windows, as well as how to transfer files from PC to Mac.

How to Transfer Files From Mac to Windows

The most obvious way to transfer files from Mac to Windows is to use the built-in functions that both operating systems offer.

However, this has one significant drawback. The process will only work if both the Mac and Windows computers are on the same local network. If they aren’t, you can skip ahead to the section on third-party solutions.

Set Up File Sharing on a Mac

macos sharing options


To share files between a Mac and PC, there are some settings that you’ll need to tweak. First, you need to allow your Mac to share its files. Follow these steps to do this:

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Go to System Preferences > Sharing.
  3. Mark the checkbox next to File Sharing in the left panel.
  4. Click on the Options button and a new window will open.
  5. Enable the checkbox next to Share files and folders using SMB.
  6. Additionally, tick the box next to Share files and folders using AFP.
  7. In the Windows File Sharing section below, mark the checkbox alongside each user whose files you want to share.
  8. Enter the users’ passwords.
  9. Click on Done.

You’ll now be back on the Sharing window. Next, you need to choose which folders and users you’re going to share with your Windows computer. Press the Plus (+) and Minus (-) buttons below Shared Folders and Shared Users to adjust your preferences.

Finally, you need to make a note of your Mac’s IP address. You will see this below the File Sharing: On message.

Access Mac Files on Windows

windows network connection enter credentials


Now it’s time to head to your Windows computer. Follow the instructions below to transfer files from Mac to Windows:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. In the address bar at the top of the window, type \\ followed by your Mac’s IP address. It should look something like this: \\
  3. A new window will pop up asking for a username and password.
  4. Enter the credentials exactly as they appear on your Mac.

File Explorer will display any folders and users that you’ve added to the Shared Folders and Shared Users lists on your Mac. You can move, edit, and copy folders like any other Windows folders. Thus, to transfer a file from Mac to Windows, just drag and drop it into one of your local folders.

How to Transfer Files From PC to Mac

That wasn’t too tough, right? Now let’s look at the reverse process: how to transfer files from Windows to Mac.

Set Up File Sharing on Windows

windows sharing network discovery


To begin, you need to make sure that Network Discovery is turned on in Windows. Fire up your Windows PC and work through the following steps:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to Network & internet.
  2. On the left panel, click on Status.
  3. Under Change your network settings, select Sharing options.
  4. Expand either the Private Network or Public Network menu, depending on your current connection type.
  5. Mark the checkbox next to Turn on network discovery.
  6. Mark the checkbox next to File and printer sharing.
  7. Click on Save changes.

(Note: We don’t recommend enabling network discovery or file sharing on public networks. They are typically far less secure than private networks. Instead, use one of the other options we’ll briefly discuss later.)

To share folders on a case-by-case basis, right-click on the folder’s name and go to Properties > Sharing > Network File and Folder Sharing > Share.

You’ll also need to make a note of your Windows machine’s IP address (Settings > Network & internet > Wi-Fi > Hardware Properties) or computer name (Settings > System > About).


Access Windows Files on Mac

apple network access windows server

Once you’re happy with your sharing options, it’s time to transfer your files from PC to Mac. Follow the steps below to do this:

  1. Open the Finder app.
  2. In the menu bar at the top of the screen, select Go > Connect to Server.
  3. Type either smb://[IP address] or smb://[computer name] and press Enter.
  4. You will be prompted to enter your Windows username and password.
  5. When you’re ready, click on Connect.

Your shared Windows content will be available in the Shared section of Finder. To transfer files from your PC to your Mac, just drag and drop as needed.

Other Ways to Share Files Between Mac and PC

You’re not limited to the above built-in methods; there are other ways to share files from Windows to Mac. These methods will work if your two computers are not on the same network.

1. Use a Cloud Storage Service

Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive all have dedicated apps available for both Windows and macOS. Just install them on the two systems and upload/download the files as needed. If you have spare iCloud storage 6 Nifty Uses for Spare iCloud Storage Have more iCloud space than you know what to do with? Here are several great ways to get more out of iCloud. Read More , you might also consider using that to share files.

2. Use a USB Stick

A simple-but-effective solution for anyone who needs to transfer files from Mac to Windows quickly is to use a USB flash drive. If you don’t own one, we recommend the SanDisk Ultra Flair 128GB model on Amazon.

SanDisk Ultra Flair 128GB SanDisk Ultra Flair 128GB Buy Now On Amazon $16.98

3. Use Your Own Server

If you’ve already paid for web hosting, you could upload a file using FTP and download it back onto your other machine.

Some of the best web hosting services include WP Engine, InMotion, and Bluehost.

Learn More About Mac to Windows File Transfers

Hopefully, the various methods we’ve discussed will help you to share files between a Mac and a PC with ease. If you also need to do this with your phone, check out the easiest ways to transfer files between computers and mobile devices The Fastest File Transfer Methods Between PCs and Mobile Devices PC-to-mobile files transfers are easy to do. This article covers five fast transfer methods between PCs and mobile devices. Read More .

Related topics: Computer Networks, File Management, File Sharing, Mac Tips, Productivity Tricks, Windows Tips.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Brian
    June 6, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Which method of sharing is faster? If I have a PC running Windows 10 and a Mac Pro, which machine would give me better performance to throw my large HDDs in for shared access?

  2. MattH.
    June 14, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Install Softros LAN Messenger for PC and MAC in few clicks and send files using built-in file sender by just dragging them to user in the list

    • Kissack
      April 14, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      At last an easy option! THANX! PeeCees really don't want to share, and Win help is not.

  3. Ram
    December 29, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Nice and intuitive tutorial but I do have one question to ask. Will this method work if my PC and Mac are both connected to a common wifi dongle (Tata Photon+ made by Huawei) wirelessly?

  4. BAlish
    April 25, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    For some reason, when clicking on Add a Network Location the shared folders do not appear, even though I followed the instructions carefully, and restarted the connection a bunch of time.

  5. Prateek
    March 12, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Hey, I'm on Yosemite. I was able to follow the steps for Mac very clearly but then on my PC running Windows 7 I couldn't find My Network Places since I don't use PC much. Please help.

  6. Barbara
    March 8, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    "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."

    Sorry it was good up til this point. I'm in Yosemite and don't know how to get to the Home Folder, Public Folder then Dropbox.

    • Prateek
      March 12, 2015 at 11:56 am

      It's easy. Just go to your desktop and press COMMAND + N to open a new "Finder Window". Then scroll through the window to find a folder named "Public". You'll find the Dropbox folder there. You can then proceed with the step.

  7. Allan Johnson
    February 10, 2010 at 4:36 am

    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)

  8. Allan Johnson
    February 10, 2010 at 1:54 am

    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?

  9. Allan Johnson
    February 9, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    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.

  10. Allan Johnson
    February 9, 2010 at 5:33 am

    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
      February 9, 2010 at 5:36 am

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

  11. Allan Johnson
    February 8, 2010 at 7:58 pm

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

  12. Allan Johnson
    February 8, 2010 at 7:53 pm

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

  13. Allan Johnson
    February 8, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    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
      February 9, 2010 at 2:58 am

      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.

  14. Todd
    February 2, 2010 at 10:27 am

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

  15. Marijo
    January 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Followed the directions, and it worked! Thanks!

  16. Sly
    January 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    oops, i menat i can't access my laptop

    • Jackson Chung
      February 9, 2010 at 3:03 am

      Can you please clarify your question again?

  17. Sly
    January 17, 2010 at 11:26 am

    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?

  18. Aria
    December 31, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    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
      February 9, 2010 at 3:03 am

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

  19. Sheila Corneau
    December 28, 2009 at 2:37 am

    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
      December 29, 2009 at 8:57 am

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

  20. bwithage
    November 13, 2009 at 10:37 am

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

  21. Arif
    September 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    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!

  22. Suresh
    August 12, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    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? )

  23. Pankaj Malav
    August 9, 2009 at 1:06 am

    This post is really helpful. Thanks.

  24. Don Hamilton
    July 20, 2009 at 4:50 pm

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

  25. Jackson Chung
    June 5, 2009 at 7:14 am

    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.

  26. TazH
    June 5, 2009 at 6:59 am

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

  27. teknoxjr
    May 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm

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

  28. akshay
    April 20, 2009 at 6:57 am

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

  29. liser
    March 26, 2009 at 11:36 am

    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!

  30. Santesa2
    March 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm

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

  31. Brian
    November 6, 2008 at 11:46 am

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

    • Jackson
      January 20, 2009 at 7:01 am

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

  32. digideth
    November 6, 2008 at 2:06 am

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

    • Jackson
      November 6, 2008 at 10:10 am

      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.