Getting Windows 7 and Mac OS X to Play Together

Printer Sharing and File Sharing Tips for Windows 7 and OS X

Sharing Windows 7 and Mac OS X files and printers isn't a difficult process. But there are a few tricks and tips you need to be aware of to get your Windows 7 or Mac printers and files to be accessible to other users on your local network.

To help you get Windows 7 and your Mac playing nicely together, we've collected these file and printer sharing guides. So, dive in and get connected.

As of January 2020, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7. We recommend upgrading to Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.

You may notice that on the Mac side of the network, the guides leave off with OS X Lion. Luckily, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, and El Capitan still use the same network protocols for connecting and sharing files with a Windows PC. As a result, the guides involving OS X Lion will point you in the right direction. The only changes are in slight naming differences for menu items and button names.

Share OS X Lion Files With Windows 7 PCs

A screen shot of a Windows 7 laptop computer.
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Apple made quite a few changes under the hood to the Mac's built-in system for sharing files with Windows PCs. The Mac’s older version of SMB (Server Message Block), the file sharing system used by Microsoft and built-into to Windows, was stripped out of OS X Lion and later, and replaced by a custom-built version of SMB 2.

Apple made the changes due to licensing issues with the Samba Team. By writing its own version of SMB 2, Apple ensured that the Mac can still interoperate with all Windows PCs.

While the changes are extensive, the actual setup and use aren't too different from previous versions of the Mac OS.

This guide to sharing your Mac files with a Windows 7 PC will take you through the process from beginning to end.

Share Windows 7 Files With OS X Lion

Share Windows 7 Files With OS X Lion
Courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Many Mac users work in a mixed environment of Macs and PCs. If you would like to be able to share files located on a Windows 7 PC with a Mac running OS X Lion, this step-by-step guide will help you get your Mac connected to as many Windows 7 systems as you have on your network.

This guide is the complement to the Share OS X Lion Files With Windows 7 PCs guide listed above. Once you've followed the directions in both guides, you'll be able to share files from your Mac to a Windows 7 PC, as well as from the PC to your Mac.

Sharing OS X 10.6 Files With Windows 7

Sharing network shares in Windows 7

If you thought you were done with setting up file sharing between your Mac running OS X Snow Leopard and your Windows 7 PC, well, you're only half right. If you used the guide above, then you should now be able to share files on your PC with your Mac. But if you need to share files in the other direction, from your Mac to your PC, then read on.

Setting up Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) to share its files with a Windows 7 PC is downright simple, requiring you only to turn on the SMB file sharing system on your Mac, make sure your Mac and Windows PC use the same Workgroup name (a PC networking requirement), and then select the folders or drives you wish to share with the PC.

There are, of course, a few more bits to take care of along the way, but that’s the basics, and if you follow this guide, you should be swapping files in no time.

Share Your Windows 7 Printer With Your Mac

Sharing Windows 7 printer with Mac

File sharing is all well and good, but why stop there? Sharing network resources, such as a printer you already own that happens to be connected to a Windows 7 PC, is a great way to save a little cash. Why duplicate peripherals when there's no reason to?

Sharing a printer connected to a Windows 7 PC with your Mac is a bit more complicated than it should be. Before Windows 7, printer sharing was a piece of cake. With Windows 7, there is no cake, so we have to go backwards in time a bit, and make use of an older printer sharing protocol to get the two operating systems talking to each other.

Mac printer sharing with Windows 7

If you read the item above about sharing a Windows 7 printer, you may be dreading the hoops you'll have to jump through to share a Mac printer with your Windows 7 PC. Well, you’re in luck; there's no hoop jumping required; your Mac can share its printers with your Windows system quite easily.

There are a few steps to take to make sure the process will work, and performing them in the proper order is one of the requirements for successfully printing from a Windows 7 PC to your Mac.

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