File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista

01
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File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Introduction to File Sharing With Your Mac

File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista
Windows Vista Network displaying the shared Mac folders. Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation

Setting up Leopard (OS X 10.5) to share files with a PC running Windows Vista is a fairly straightforward process, but like any networking task, it's helpful to understand how the underlying process works.

Beginning with Leopard, Apple reconfigured the way Windows file sharing is set up. Instead of having separate Mac file sharing and Windows file sharing control panels, Apple placed all file sharing processes in one system preference, making it easy to set up and configure file sharing.

In ‘File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista’ we will take you through the entire process of configuring your Mac to share files with a PC. We'll also describe some of the basic issues you may encounter along the way.

What You Will Need

  • A Mac running OS X 10.5 or later.
  • A PC running Windows Vista. These instructions are for Windows Vista Home and Business editions, but they should work for any version of Windows Vista.
  • Administrative access to both the Windows Vista computer and the Mac computer.
  • About a half hour of your time.
  • Oh, and some files you wish to share.
02
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File Sharing OS X 10.5 to Windows Vista - The Basics

File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista
When User Account sharing is turned on, all of the folders you normally have access to on your Mac are available on the PC. Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation

Apple uses the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol for file sharing with Windows users, as well as Unix/Linux users. This is the same protocol that Windows uses for network file and printer sharing, but Microsoft calls it Microsoft Windows Network.

Apple implemented SMB in OS X 10.5 a little bit differently than in previous versions of the Mac OS. OS X 10.5 has some new capabilities, such as the option to share specific folders and not just a user account's public folder.

OS X 10.5 supports two methods of sharing files using SMB: Guest Sharing and User Account Sharing. Guest Sharing allows you to specify the folders you wish to share. You can also control the rights a guest has for each shared folder; the options are Read Only, Read and Write, and Write Only (Drop Box). You can't control who can access the folders, though. Any individual on your local network can access shared folders as a guest.

With the User Account Sharing method, you log in to your Mac from a Windows computer with your Mac username and password. Once you're logged in, all of the files and folders you would normally have access to on your Mac will be available.

The User Account Sharing method may seem to be the most obvious choice when you want to access your Mac files from a PC, but there's a slight possibility that your username and password could be left behind and accessible on the PC. So for most users, I recommend using Guest Sharing, because it allows you to specify the folder(s) you want to share and leaves everything else inaccessible.

One important note about SMB file sharing. If you have User Account Sharing turned off (the default), anyone who attempts to log in to your Mac from a Windows computer will be rejected, even if they supply a correct username and password. With User Account Sharing turned off, only guests are allowed access to shared folders.

03
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File Sharing - Set Up a Workgroup Name

File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista
The workgroup name on your Mac and PC must match in order to share files.

The Mac and PC need to be in the same ‘workgroup’ for file sharing to work. Windows Vista uses a default workgroup name of WORKGROUP. If you haven’t made any changes to the workgroup name on the Windows computer connected to your network, then you’re ready to go. The Mac also creates a default workgroup name of WORKGROUP for connecting to Windows machines.

If you have changed your Windows workgroup name, as my wife and I have done with our home office network, then you’ll need to change the workgroup name on your Mac to match.

Change the Workgroup Name on Your Mac (Leopard OS X 10.5.x)

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock.
  2. Click the ‘Network’ icon in the System Preferences window.
  3. Select ‘Edit Locations’ from the Location dropdown menu.
  4. Create a copy of your current active location.
    1. Select your active location from the list in the Location sheet. The active location is usually called Automatic, and may be the only entry in the sheet.
    2. Click the sprocket button and select ‘Duplicate Location’ from the pop-up menu.
    3. Type in a new name for the duplicate location or use the default name, which is ‘Automatic Copy.’
    4. Click the ‘Done’ button.
  5. Click the ‘Advanced’ button.
  6. Select the ‘WINS’ tab.
  7. In the ‘Workgroup’ field, enter the same workgroup name you're using on the PC.
  8. Click the ‘OK’ button.
  9. Click the ‘Apply’ button.

After you click the ‘Apply’ button, your network connection will be dropped. After a few moments, your network connection will be re-established, with the new workgroup name you created.

04
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File Sharing OS X 10.5 to Windows Vista - Set Up File Sharing

File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista
You can select access rights for each shared folder.

Once the workgroup names on your Mac and PC match, it's time to enable file sharing on your Mac.

Enable File Sharing

  1. Launch System Preferences, either by clicking the 'System Preferences' icon in the Dock, or by selecting 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu.
  2. Click the 'Sharing' icon, which is located in the Internet & Network section of System Preferences.
  3. From the list of sharing services on the left, select File Sharing by clicking its check box.

Sharing Folders

By default, your Mac will share the public folder of all user accounts. You can specify additional folders for sharing as needed.

  1. Click the plus (+) button below the Shared Folders list.
  2. In the Finder sheet that drops down, navigate to the location of the folder you wish to share. Select the folder and click the ‘Add’ button.
  3. Any folders you add are given default access rights. The owner of the folder has Read & Write access. The 'Everyone' group, which includes guests, is given Read Only access.
  4. To change the access rights of guests, click 'Read Only' to the right of the 'Everyone' entry in the Users list.
  5. A pop-up menu will appear, listing the four available types of access rights.
    • Read & Write. Guests may read files, copy files, create new files, and edit files stored in the shared folder.
    • Read Only. Guests may read files, but not edit, copy, or delete any data in the shared folder.
    • Write Only (Drop Box). Guests can't see any files stored in the shared folder, but they can copy files and folders to the shared folder. Drop Boxes are a good way to allow other individuals to give you files without being able to view any content on your Mac.
    • No Access. As its name implies, guests will not be able to access the specified folder.
  6. Select the type of access right you wish to assign to the shared folder.
05
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File Sharing OS X 10.5 to Windows Vista - Types of SMB Sharing

File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista
To enable User Account Sharing, place a check mark next to the appropriate user account.

With the shared folders selected and the access rights set for each of the shared folders, it's time to turn SMB sharing on.

Enable SMB Sharing

  1. With the Sharing preferences pane window still open and File Sharing selected from the Service list, click the ‘Options’ button.
  2. Place a check mark next to 'Share files and folders using SMB.'

Guest Sharing is controlled by the access rights you granted to the shared folder(s) in the previous step. You can also activate User Account Sharing, which lets you log in to your Mac from a Windows computer using your Mac username and password. Once you're logged in, all of the files and folders you normally have access to on your Mac will be available from the Windows computer.

User Account Sharing has some security issues, the primary one being that SMB stores passwords in a method that is slightly less secure than Apple's normal file sharing system. While it's unlikely that someone would be able to gain access to these stored passwords, it is a possibility. For that reason, I don't recommend enabling User Account Sharing except on a very trusted and secure local network.

Enable User Account Sharing

  1. Just below the 'Share files and folders using SMB' option that you enabled with a check mark in the previous step is a list of the user accounts currently active on your Mac. Place a check mark next to each user account that you wish to make available to SMB User Account Sharing.
  2. Enter the password for the selected user account.
  3. Repeat for any other accounts you want to make available to SMB User Account Sharing.
  4. Click the ‘Done’ button.
  5. You can now close the Sharing preferences pane.
06
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File Sharing OS X 10.5 to Windows Vista - Set Up the Guest Account

File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista
The Guest Account only allows access to shared folders.

Now that SMB file sharing is enabled, you still have one more step to complete if you want to use Guest Sharing. Apple created a special Guest user account specifically for file sharing, but the account is disabled by default. Before anyone, including you, can log in to SMB file sharing as a guest, you must enable the special Guest account.

Enable the Guest User Account

  1. Launch System Preferences, either by clicking the 'System Preferences' icon in the Dock, or by selecting 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu.
  2. Click the 'Accounts' icon, located in the System area of the System Preferences window.
  3. Click the lock icon in the bottom left corner. When prompted, supply your administrator username and password. (If you're logged in with an administrator account, you will only need to supply the password.)
  4. From the list of accounts, select 'Guest Account.'
  5. Place a check mark next to 'Allow guests to connect to shared folders.'
  6. Click the lock icon in the bottom left corner.
  7. Close the Accounts preferences pane.
07
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File Sharing OS X 10.5 to Windows Vista - SMB and Vista Home Edition

File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista
The Registry allows you to enable the proper method of authentication. Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation

If you're using the Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise Editions of Vista, skip to the next step. This step is for the Home Edition only.

Before we can access the folders and user accounts your Mac is sharing from Windows Vista, we must enable the default SMB authentication. In order to do this, we must edit the Windows Registry.

WARNING: Always back up your Windows Registry before you make any changes to it.

Enable Authentication in Vista Home Edition

  1. Start the Registry Editor by selecting Start, All Programs, Accessories, Run.
  2. In the ‘Open’ field of the Run dialog box, type regedit and click the ‘OK’ button.
  3. The User Account Control system will ask for permission to continue. Click the ‘Continue’ button.
  4. In the Registry window, expand the following:
    1. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
    2. SYSTEM
    3. CurrentControlSet
    4. Control
    5. Lsa
  5. In the ‘Value’ pane of the Registry Editor, check to see if the following DWORD exists: lmcompatibilitylevel. If it does, perform the following:
    1. Right-click lmcompatibilitylevel and select ‘Modify’ from the pop-up menu.
    2. Enter a Value data of 1.
    3. Click the ‘OK’ button.
  6. If the lmcompatibilitylevel DWORD does not exist, create a new DWORD.
    1. From the Registry Editor menu, select Edit, New, DWORD (32-bit) Value.
    2. A new DWORD called ‘New Value #1’ will be created.
    3. Rename the new DWORD to lmcompatibilitylevel.
    4. Right-click lmcompatibilitylevel and select ‘Modify’ from the pop-up menu.
    5. Enter a Value data of 1.
    6. Click the ‘OK’ button.
08
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File Sharing OS X 10.5 - SMB and Vista Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise

File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista
The Global Policy Editor allows you to enable the proper method of authentication. Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation

Before we can access the folders and user accounts your Mac is sharing we must enable the default SMB authentication. To do this, we must use Vista's Group Policy Editor, which will result in a change to the Windows Registry.

WARNING: Always back up your Windows Registry before you make any changes to it.

Enable Authentication in Vista Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise

  1. Start the Group Policy Editor by selecting Start, All Programs, Accessories, Run.
  2. In the ‘Open’ field of the Run dialog box, type gpedit.msc and click the ‘OK’ button.
  3. The User Account Control system will ask for permission to continue. Click the ‘Continue’ button.
  4. Expand the following objects in the Group Policy Editor:
    1. Computer Configuration
    2. Windows Settings
    3. Security Settings
    4. Local Policies
    5. Security Options
  5. Right-click the ‘Network security: LAN Manager authentication level’ policy item, and select ‘Properties’ from the pop-up menu.
  6. Select the ‘Local Security Settings’ tab.
  7. Select ‘Send LM & NTLM - user NTLMv2 session security if negotiated’ from the dropdown menu.
  8. Click the ‘OK’ button.
  9. Close the Group Policy Editor.
09
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File Sharing OS X 10.5 to Windows Vista - Mapping Network Shares

File Sharing With OS X 10.5 - Share Mac Files with Windows Vista
Mapping your shared folders to network drives can overcome an intermittent disappearing folder problem. Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation

You have now configured your Mac to share folders or user accounts using SMB, the file sharing protocol used by Windows, Linux, and Unix computers. You have also modified Vista to allow SMB authentication to be established using the standard default SMB authentication method. You are now ready to access your shared files from your Vista computer.

One annoying thing I've noticed when file sharing with Windows machines is that the shared folders sometimes disappear from Windows Vista’s Network Places. One way around this intermittent problem is to use Windows Vista’s Map to Network Drive option to assign your shared folder(s) to network drives. This makes Windows think the shared folders are hard drives, and seems to eliminate the disappearing folders issue.

Map Shared Folders to Network Drives

  1. In Windows Vista, select Start, Computer.
  2. In the Computer window, select 'Map Network Drive' from the toolbar.
  3. The Map Network Drive window will open.
  4. Use the dropdown menu in the 'Drive' field to select a drive letter. I like to label my network drives starting with the letter 'Z' and working backwards through the alphabet for each shared folder, since many of the letters at the other end of the alphabet are already taken.
  5. Next to the 'Folder' field, click the ‘Browse’ button. In the Browse for Folder window that opens, expand the file tree to display the following: Network, Your Mac’s name. You will now see a list of all your shared folders.
  6. Select one of the shared folders, and click the ‘OK’ button.
  7. If you would like your shared folders to be available whenever you turn on your Windows computer, place a check mark next to ‘Reconnect at logon.’
  8. Click the ‘Finish’ button.

    Your shared folders will now appear on your Windows computer as hard drives that you can always access via My Computer.