How to: Add a Mac to your Windows Network (Part I)

By Eric Geier

June 05, 2008

If you've been tempted by the MacBook Air, but are afraid your existing Windows network will shun the newcomer, it's time to bury the hatchet. Macs and PCs really can get along. This tutorial will show you how to add an Apple computer (or two) to your existing network of Windows-based computers.

Whether you’ve plopped down cash for the well-advertised MacBook Air or have had an Apple or two among your Windows PCs for ages, these two operating systems can share files, printers, and more. This tutorial will show you how to add an Apple computer to your existing network of Windows-based computers.

 

Enabling Windows Sharing in Mac OS X

First, Windows Sharing must be enabled on the Mac computer(s). This setting is on the Sharing preferences window, which is accessible in Mac OS X Leopard or Tiger by following these steps:

 

  1. Click the Apple icon on the menu bar.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. In the System Preferences window, click the Sharing icon.

 

Here’s how to continue in Mac OS X Leopard:

 

  1. On the Sharing window, make sure the checkbox for the File Sharing option is checked, and click the option to show its settings.
  2. Click the Options… button.
  3. On the window that pops down, check the Share files and folders using SMB option (see below). 
  4. Check the checkbox(es) next to the account(s) that will be used to connect to the Mac computer from Windows computers, enter the password, and click OK.
  5. Click Done.

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 Here’s how to continue in Mac OS X Tiger:

 

  1. On the Sharing window, make sure the checkbox for the Windows Sharing option is checked, and click the option to show its settings.
  2. Click the Accounts… button.
  3. On the window that pops down, check the checkbox(es) next to the account(s) that will be used to connect to the Mac computer from Windows computers, enter the password, and click OK.
  4. Click Done.

 

Setting the Workgroup for a Mac

Since the Workgroup designations of all the computers on a network should be the same, it’s probably necessary to change the default value in Mac (which is “Workgroup”) to the Workgroup used by the existing computers on the network. Here’s how to configure the Workgroup value in Mac OS X Leopard:

 

  1. Click the Apple icon on the menu bar and select System Preferences.
  2. In the System Preferences window, click the Network icon.
  3. In the Network window, select the network adapter that’s connected to the network, from the list of adapters and connections on the left.
  4. Click the Advanced... button.
  5. On the window that popped down, click the WINS tab.
  6. Change the Workgroup field.
  7. Click OK.

 

In Mac OS X Tiger, here’s how to configure the Workgroup value:

 

  1. Click Go on the menu bar and select Utilities.
  2. In the Utilities window, double-click the Directory Access icon.
  3. On the Directory Access window, select the SMB/CIFS entry and click the Configure button.
  4. Change the Workgroup field.
  5. Click OK.

 

Configuring Mac and Windows Firewall Settings

The built-in firewall of Mac OS X Leopard and Tiger automatically adapts its settings to the sharing settings. Plus Windows Firewall (in Vista and XP) should be configured by default to allow this type of sharing (if regular File and Printer sharing is enabled). However, if either the Mac or Windows computers have a third-party firewall application installed, configuring it with the Windows sharing (SMB) ports may be required.

 

Here are the ports that need to be approved or authorized to pass through the firewall:

 

  • UDP 137
  • UDP 138
  • TCP 139

 

If there are problems accessing shared resources between Windows and Mac, it’s best to double-check that Windows Firewall is automatically opening up these ports as well; here’s how to check in Windows XP:

 

  1. Open Windows Firewall.
  2. Make sure the Don’t allow exceptions option is not checked.
  3. Click the Exceptions tab
  4. Double-click the File and Printer Sharing entry.
  5. Make sure the ports given earlier in the bullets are listed and checked in the Edit a Service window that popped up.

 Here’s how to check the firewall settings in Windows Vista:

 

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click the System and Maintenance category.
  3. Click Administrative Tools.
  4. Double-click the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security icon.
  5. On the window that appears, click Inbound Rules from the list on the left and make sure the following entries are enabled for your profile type (typically Private on small networks and Domain on larger corporate networks):
    • File and Printer Sharing (NB-Name-Out)
    • File and Printer Sharing (NB-Datagram-Out)
    • File and Printer Sharing (NB-Session-Out)
  6. Click Outbound Rules from the list on the left and make sure the following entries are enabled for your profile type:
    • File and Printer Sharing (NB-Name-In)
    • File and Printer Sharing (NB-Datagram-In)
    • File and Printer Sharing (NB-Session-In)

 

What’s Next

Now you should be able to access shared folders, drives, and printers between both your Mac and Windows computers. The next installment of this series will discuss this further, showing you exactly how to share folders on your Mac, and give tips on Windows-to-Mac sharing.

 

 

Eric Geier is an author of many wireless networking and computing books including Home Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley 2008) and Wi-Fi Hotspots: Setting up Public Wireless Internet Access (Cisco Press 2006).



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