Share OS X Lion Files With Windows 7 PCs

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Lion File Sharing With Win 7 - Overview

Share OS X Lion Files With Windows 7 PCs
Screenshot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

The process of sharing files with a Windows 7 PC is a bit different with Lion than it was with Snow Leopard and earlier versions of OS X. But despite changes to Lion, and Apple's implementation of SMB (Server Message Block), it's still easy to set up file sharing. SMB is the native file sharing format that Microsoft uses. You would think that since Microsoft and Apple both use SMB, file sharing would be pretty straightforward; and it is. But under the hood, a lot has changed.

Apple stripped out the older implementation of SMB it used in previous versions of the Mac OS, and wrote its own version of SMB 2.0. The change to a custom version of SMB came about because of licensing issues with the Samba Team, the developers of SMB. On the bright side, Apple's implementation of SMB 2 seems to be working well with Windows 7 systems, at least for the basic file sharing method we are going to describe here.

This guide will show you how to share your OS X Lion files so that your Windows 7 PC can access them. If you also want your OS X Lion Mac to be able to access your Windows files, take a look at another guide: Share Windows 7 Files with OS X Lion.

I recommend following both guides, so that you end up with an easy-to-use bi-directional file sharing system for your Macs and PCs.

What You Will Need to Share Your Mac's Files

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Lion File Sharing with Win 7 - Configure Your Mac's Workgroup Name

Lion File Sharing with Win 7 - Configure Your Mac's Workgroup Name
Screenshot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Strictly speaking, you do not need to configure your Mac or Windows 7 workgroup settings. In all likelihood, the default settings that both OSes use are adequate. However, even though it is possible for file sharing between a Mac and a Windows 7 PC to work, even with mismatched workgroups, it is still a good idea to make sure they are set up correctly.

The default workgroup name for both the Mac and a Windows 7 PC is WORKGROUP. If you haven't made any changes to either computer's workgroup setting, you can skip these steps and go on to page 4.

Changing the Workgroup Name on a Mac Running OS X Lion

The method below may seem like a roundabout way to change the workgroup name on your Mac, but it needs to be done this way to ensure that the workgroup name actually changes. Trying to change the workgroup name on an active connection can lead to problems. This method lets you change the workgroup name on a copy of your current network settings, and then swap in the new settings all at once.

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock, or by selecting 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu.
  2. Click the Network preference pane in the System Preferences window.
  3. From the Location drop-down menu, select Edit Locations.
  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.
    2. Click the sprocket button and select 'Duplicate Location' from the pop-up menu.
    3. Type in a new name for the duplicate location.
    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 use on your 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 short time, the network connection will be re-established using the new workgroup name you created.

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Lion File Sharing with Win 7 - Configure Your PC's Workgroup Name

Lion File Sharing with Win 7 - Configure Your PC's Workgroup Name
Screenshot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Windows 7 uses a default workgroup name of WORKGROUP. Ensuring that both your Mac and your PC use the same workgroup name is a good idea, even though it isn't an absolute requirement for sharing files.

Appropriately Name Windows Workgroups and Domains

The default workgroup name for the Mac is also WORKGROUP, so if you haven't made any changes to the name on either computer, you can skip this step and go on to page 4.

Changing the Workgroup Name on a PC Running Windows 7

  1. In the Start menu, right-click the Computer link.
  2. Select 'Properties' from the pop-up menu.
  3. In the System Information window that opens, click the 'Change settings' link in the 'Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings' category.
  4. In the System Properties window that opens, click the Change button. The button is located next to the line of text that reads: 'To rename this computer or change its domain or workgroup, click Change.'
  5. In the Workgroup field, enter the name for the workgroup. Remember that the workgroup names on the PC and the Mac must match exactly. Click OK. A status dialog box will open, saying 'Welcome to the X workgroup,' where X is the workgroup name you entered earlier.
  6. Click OK in the status dialog box.
  7. A new status message will appear, telling you that 'You must restart this computer for the changes to take effect.'
  8. Click OK in the status dialog box.
  9. Close the System Properties window by clicking OK.
  10. Restart your Windows PC.
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Lion File Sharing with Win 7 - Configure Your Mac's File Sharing Options

File Sharing with OS X Lion
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

OS X Lion has two different file sharing systems. One lets you specify the folders you want to share; the other lets you share the entire contents of your Mac. The method that is used depends on the account you use to log in from your Windows PC. If you log in using one of the Mac's administrator accounts, you will have access to the entire Mac, which seems fitting for an administrator. If you log in using a non-administrator account, you will have access to your own user files, plus any specific folders you set up in the Mac's file sharing preferences.

File Sharing with Tiger and Leopard

Enable File Sharing on Your Mac

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock, or by selecting 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu.
  2. Click the Sharing preference pane located in the Internet & Wireless section of the System Preferences window.
  3. From the list of sharing services on the left, select File Sharing by placing a checkmark in its box.

Selecting Folders to Share

Your Mac will share the Public folder for all user accounts. You can specify additional folders as needed.

  1. Click the plus (+) button below the Shared Folders list.
  2. In the Finder sheet that drops down, navigate to the folder you wish to share. Select the folder and click the Add button.
  3. Repeat for any additional folders you wish to share.

Defining Access Rights to Shared Folders

Any folder you add to the list of shared folders includes specific access rights. By default, the current owner of a folder is given Read/Write access while everyone else is denied access. The defaults are based on the current privileges that are set for a specific folder on your Mac.

It's a good idea to review the access rights of each folder you add for file sharing, and to make any appropriate changes to the access rights.

  1. Select a folder listed in the Shared Folders list.
  2. The Users list will display a list of users who are allowed to access the folder, as well as what each user's access privileges are.
  3. To add a user to the list, click the plus (+) button located at the bottom of the Users list, select the target user, and click the Select button.
  4. To change access rights, click on the current access rights. A pop-up menu will appear, listing the access rights available for you to assign. Not all access right types are available for all users.
  • Read & Write. The user can read files, copy files, create new files, edit files within the shared folder, and delete files.
  • Read Only. The user may read files, but not edit, copy, or delete files.
  • Write Only (Drop Box). The user may copy files to the drop box, but won't be able to see or access the contents of the drop box folder.
  • No Access. The user will not be able to access any files in the shared folder or any information about the shared folder. This access option is primarily used for the special Everyone user, which is a way to allow or prevent guest access to folders.
  • Select the type of access rights you wish to assign to the shared folder.
  • Repeat for each shared folder.

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    Lion File Sharing with Win 7 - Configure Your Mac's SMB Options

    Lion File Sharing with Win 7 - Configure Your Mac's SMB Options
    Screenshot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

    With the folders you wish to share specified, it's time to turn on SMB file sharing.

    Enable SMB File Sharing

    1. With the Sharing preference pane still open, and File Sharing selected, click the Options button, located just above the Users list.
    2. Place a checkmark in the 'Share files and folders using SMB (Windows)' box.

    Enable User Account Sharing

    1. Just below the 'Share file and folders using SMB' option is a list of user accounts on your Mac.
    2. Place a checkmark next to the account of any user that you wish to have access to his/her files via SMB sharing.
    3. An authentication window will open. Enter the password for the selected user account.
    4. Repeat for any additional user accounts that you wish to give remote file sharing privileges.
    5. Click the Done button.
    06
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    Lion File Sharing with Win 7 - Accessing Your Shared Folders From Windows 7

    Lion File Sharing with Win 7 - Accessing Your Shared Folders From Windows 7
    Screenshot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

    Now that you have your Mac set up to share folders with your Windows 7 PC, it's time to move over to the PC and access the shared folders. But before you can do that, you need to know your Mac's IP (Internet Protocol) address.

    Your Mac's IP Address

    1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock, or by selecting 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu.
    2. Open the Network preference pane.
    3. Select the active network connection from the list of available connection methods. For most users, this will either be Ethernet 1 or Wi-Fi.
    4. Once you select a network connection method, the right-hand pane will display the current IP address. Make a note of this information.

    Accessing Shared Folders From Windows 7

    1. On your Windows 7 PC, select Start.
    2. In the Search Programs and Files box, enter the following:
      Run
    3. Press enter or return.
    4. In the Run dialog box, type in your Mac's IP address. Here is an example:
      \\192.168.1.37
    5. Be sure to include the \\ at the beginning of the address.
    6. If the Windows 7 user account that you are logged in with matches the name of one of the Mac user accounts you specified in the previous step, then a window will open with a list of shared folders.
    7. If the Windows account you're logged in with does not match one of the Mac user accounts, you will be asked to supply a Mac user account name and password. Once you enter this information, a window will open displaying the shared folders.

    You can now access your Mac's shared folders on your Windows 7 PC.