Sharing Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) Files With Windows 7

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File Sharing: Snow Leopard And Windows 7: Introduction

File Sharing With Snow Leopard: Sharing OS X 10.6 Files With Windows 7
File sharing is vastly improved in Windows 7. You can easily access your shared Mac folders from within Windows Explorer.

Setting up Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) to share files with a PC running Windows 7 is a fairly straightforward process. In fact, it may be the easiest of all the Windows operating systems to share files with. But, like any networking task, it's helpful to understand how the underlying process works.

Snow Leopard uses the same file sharing system that was first introduced with Leopard (OS X 10.5). If you have used file sharing in OS X 10.5, then the setup process will be very familiar to you. If you haven't used file sharing on the Mac in a long time, you'll discover that 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 Snow Leopard: Sharing OS X 10.6 Files with Windows 7' 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 10.6 or later.
  • A PC running Windows 7. These instructions are for Windows 7 Ultimate, but they should work for any version of Windows 7.
  • Administrative access to both the Windows 7 computer and the Mac computer.
  • About a half hour of your time.
  • Oh, and some files you wish to share.
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File Sharing: Snow Leopard and Windows 7: SMB and the Types of Sharing

File Sharing: Snow Leopard and Windows 7: SMB and the Types of Sharing
OS X uses SMB to share files between a Mac and Windows.

Mac OS X 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.

OS X 10.6 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.

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File Sharing: Snow Leopard and Windows 7: Configuring the Workgroup Name

File Sharing: Snow Leopard and Windows 7: Configuring the Workgroup Name
Make sure your Mac's workgroup name matches the one your Windows PC is using.

The Mac and PC need to be in the same 'workgroup' for file sharing to work. Windows 7 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 10.6.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.

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File Sharing: Snow Leopard and Windows 7: Specifying Folders to Share

File Sharing: Snow Leopard and Windows 7: Specifying Folders to Share
Once you enable File Sharing on your Mac, you can add folders you wish to share, as well as assign access rights.

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.
    1. Read & Write. Guests may read files, copy files, create new files, and edit files stored in the shared folder.
    2. Read Only. Guests may read files, but not edit, copy, or delete any data in the shared folder.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
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File Sharing: Snow Leopard and Windows 7: Guest Sharing or User Account Sharing

File Sharing: Snow Leopard and Windows 7: Guest Sharing or User Account Sharing
You enable User Account Sharing by specifying which Mac user accounts you wish to make available.

With the shared folders selected and 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 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.
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File Sharing: Snow Leopard and Windows 7: Enable the Guest User Account

File Sharing: Snow Leopard and Windows 7: Enable the Guest User Account
Mac OS X has a built-in Guest account. Be sure to enable this account if you want to allow guests to connect 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. Mac OS has 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.