Networking Windows with Mac - IT solutions across platforms

With the ratio of Macs sales to PC sales growing more and more equal, the Mac using population of the world is slowly becoming a stronger force. What exactly does this mean? To most people it shouldn’t really mean anything at all but for an IT specialist it could mean a huge challenge, as well the developing of a valuable skill, when figuring everybody in to a work based network.

Below are some basic guidelines for getting through a standard set up

IT solutions to getting Macs to talk with a PC network

It is a process that has gotten easier but still a fairly sticky pot to stick your hand in. To start with it is important to get the TCP/IP address on both platforms. To do this on a Mac click on the apple in the top left hand corner and select ‘System Preferences’ in the drop down menu. This should open a window. When it does, hit the ‘Network Button’, this will display the TCP/IP address. Make a note of it.

Next, click the ‘Show All’ button you will find at the top of ‘System Preferences’ and click ‘Sharing’. From here you will see a ‘Windows Sharing’ box which you will need to tick. This also activates an account button which you should select and enter the user account you want to share with. Make a note of the user account name and password. If you find the whole window is locked click the lock icon and enter you user name and password to unlock it.

Next find your Mac’s short name. Go to ‘Preferences’ then ‘Accounts’ and choose your user account and make a note of it. Then you will have to open the hard drive and look in the OSX applications folder ‘Utilities’ for the Directory Access icon. When you do double click on it and authenticate the change by hitting the lock button at the bottom left hand side and entering your name and password.

Check the SMB/CIFS box to enable the ‘Configure’ button.  This will take you to the Workgroup window. In this dialogue box you will need to enter the PC’s name and workgroup. For right click ‘My Computer’ and go to properties. When this comes up click the ‘Computer Name’ icon and you should see the workgroup name. You will usually find it labelled WORKSHOP and MSHOME but you can change it to something more unique and then restart your computer for it to take effect.

Now on the PC go to ‘Control Panel’ and then Network Connections. Find the IP address by clicking the ‘Local Area Connection’ by clicking and going through file menu, status and support tab. Make a note of it. When you look at your list of notes it should have the following information for both machines

•   Computer names

•   Workgroups

•    IP addresses

Unless you set a static IP address on all computers you must remember to check the TCP/IP each time you restart your computer as it will change.

To allow your Windows machine to get to the Mac’s public folders go through network places to the network tasks area. Bring up the ‘Wizard’ to add a network place. Click ‘next’ and choose another network location then hit ‘next’ again. Type the TCP/IP address of the Mac in this format based on your list:

“\\172.16.1.151\usershortname\public”

This allows you into the Mac computer’s drop box in the public area of your user area. For the public folder on the Mac, go to users> your short name> public folder> drop box. If you are having trouble getting this to work check to see if any firewalls on your PC may be hindering the connection

To share Windows files find the shared documents folder and create a new folder calling it something like ‘myshare. Select the folder and share the it on the network by going to ‘File’ then ’Sharing and Security

Now you are ready to share. On the Mac desktop in the ‘Go’ menu select “connect to server.” Type the IP address of the PC you in this format:

“smb://xxx.xx.x.xxx/myshare”.

Substituting the TCP/IP numbers of the PC computer  for the ‘x’s’. Then enter your Mac user short name and the password. Check your firewall for any potential problems and you should be right to go.

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