How to Share Windows 7 Files With OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

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01
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File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Introduction

File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Introduction
Win 7 and Snow Leopard get along just fine when it comes to sharing files.

Sharing files between a PC running Windows 7 and a Mac running OS X 10.6 is one of the easiest cross-platform file sharing activities, primarily because both Windows 7 and Snow Leopard speak SMB (Server Message Block), the native file sharing protocol Microsoft uses in Windows 7.

Even better, unlike when sharing Vista files, where you have to make a few adjustments to how Vista connects with SMB services, sharing Windows 7 files is pretty much a mouse-click operation.

What You Will Need

  • A Mac running OS X 10.6 or later.
  • A PC running Windows 7. These instructions should work on the following versions of Windows 7: Ultimate, Professional, Home Premium.
  • About 15 minutes of your time.
  • Some Windows files you want to share.
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File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Configuring The Mac's Workgroup Name

File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Configuring The Mac's Workgroup Name
The workgroup names 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 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 (Snow 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.

03
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File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Configuring the PC's Workgroup Name

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

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. Workgroup names are not case sensitive, but Windows always uses the uppercase format, so we will follow that convention here as well.

The Mac also creates a default workgroup name of WORKGROUP, so if you haven't made any changes to either the Windows or the Mac computer, you're ready to go. If you need to change the PC's workgroup name, follow the instructions below for each Windows computer.

Change the Workgroup Name on Your Windows 7 PC

  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, the workgroup names must match on the PC and the Mac. Click 'OK.' A status dialog box will open, saying 'Welcome to the X workgroup,' where X is the name of the workgroup 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.
04
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File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Enable File Sharing on Your Windows 7 PC

File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Enable File Sharing on Your Windows 7 PC
The Advanced sharing settings area is where you configure Win 7's file sharing options.

There are many file sharing options with Windows 7. We are going to show you how to connect, using basic guest access, to special Public folders that Windows 7 uses. You can change these settings later to meet your specific needs, but this is a good place to start.

Here is a list of what each option does.

Password Protection

Enabling password protection will force you to supply a username and password each time you access folders on the Windows 7 PC. The username and password must match a user account that is resident on the Windows 7 PC.

Connecting with a Windows 7 PC account grants you the same type of access as if you sat down at the Windows PC and logged in.

Disabling password protection will allow anyone on your local network access to the Windows 7 folders you will later assign for sharing. You can still assign specific rights to a folder, such as read only or read/write, but they will be applied to anyone who connects to your PC.

Public Folders

Public folders are special library folders on Windows 7. Each user account on a Windows 7 PC has a group of Public folders, one for each library (Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos), that you can use for sharing with others on your network.

Enabling Public folders allows access to these special locations by network users. You can still set the permission levels (read or read/write) for each one.

Disabling Public folders makes these special locations unavailable to anyone who is not logged into the Windows 7 PC.

File Sharing Connection

This setting determines the encryption level used during file sharing. You can choose 128-bit encryption (the default), which will work fine with OS X 10.6, or you can reduce the encryption level to 40- or 56-bit encryption.

If you're connecting with Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6), there is no reason to change from the default 128-bit encryption level.

Enable Basic File Sharing on Your Windows 7 PC

  1. Select Start, Control Panel.
  2. Click the 'View network status and tasks' link under Network and Internet.
  3. In the left-hand sidebar, click the 'Change advanced sharing settings' link.
  4. The Advanced sharing settings window will open.
  5. Enable the following options by clicking on the appropriate radio button:
  • File and Printer sharing: 'Turn on file and printer sharing.'
  • Public folder sharing: 'Turn on sharing so anyone with network access can read and write files in the Public folders.'
  • File sharing connections: 'Use 128-bit encryption to help protect file sharing connections (recommended).'
  • Password protected sharing: 'Turn off password protected sharing.'
  • Click the 'Save Changes' button when you're done.
05
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File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Sharing a Win 7 Folder

File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Sharing a Win 7 Folder
After adding the Guest account, use the dropdown menu to set permissions.

Now that your PC and Mac share the same workgroup name, and you have enabled file sharing on your Windows 7 PC, you are ready to go to your Win 7 computer and select additional any folders (beyond the Public folders) that you wish to share.

The Windows 7 non-password-protected file sharing that we enabled in the previous step makes use of a special Guest account. When you select a folder for sharing, you can assign access rights to the Guest user.

Windows 7 File Sharing: Sharing a Folder

  1. On your Windows 7 computer, navigate to the parent folder of the folder you wish to share.
  2. Right-click on the folder you would like to share.
  3. Select 'Share with, Specific People' from the pop-up menu.
  4. Use the dropdown arrow in the field next to 'Add' to select the Guest user account.
  5. Click the 'Add' button.
  6. The Guest account will be added to the list of people who can access the folder.
  7. Click on the dropdown arrow in the Guest account to specify permission levels.
  8. You can select 'Read' or 'Read/Write.'
  9. Make your selection and then click the 'Share' button.
  10. Click the 'Done' button>
  11. Repeat for any additional folders you wish to share.
06
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File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Using The Finders Connect To Server Option

File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Using The Finders Connect To Server Option
The Mac's 'Connect to Server' option allows you to access your Windows 7 PC by using its IP address.

With your Windows 7 computer configured to share specific folders, you're ready to access them from your Mac. There are two methods of access you can use; here is the first method. (We will cover the other method in the next step.)

Access Shared Windows Files Using the Finder's 'Connect to Server' Option

  1. Click the 'Finder' icon in the Dock to ensure that the Finder is the frontmost application.
  2. From the Finder menu, select 'Go, Connect to Server.'
  3. In the Connect to Server window, enter the server address in the following format (without the quotation marks and period): 'smb://ip address of windows xp computer.' For example, if the IP (Internet Protocol) address is 192.168.1.44, you would enter the server address as: smb://192.168.1.44.
  4. If you don't know the IP address of your Windows 7 computer, you can find it by going to your Windows computer and doing the following:
    1. Select Start.
    2. In the 'Search programs and files' field, type cmd then press enter/return.
    3. In the command window that opens, type ipconfig at the prompt, and then press return/enter.
    4. You will see your Windows 7 current IP configuration information, including a line labeled 'IPv4 Address' with your IP address displayed. Write down the IP address, close the command window, and return to your Mac.
  5. Click the 'Connect' button in your Mac's Connect to Server dialog box.
  6. After a short time a dialog box will display, asking you to enter your name and password for accessing the Windows 7 server. Because we set up Windows 7 file sharing to use only a guest access system, you can simply choose the Guest option and click the 'Connect' button.
  7. A dialog box will appear, listing all of the folders from the Windows 7 machine that you are allowed to access. Click on the folder you wish to access and click 'OK.'
  8. A Finder window will open and display the contents of the selected folder.
07
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File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Using The Finders Sidebar To Connect

File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Using The Finders Sidebar To Connect
After you connect to it, your Windows 7 PC's name will display in the Mac's Finder sidebar. Clicking the PC's name will display the available shared folders.

With your Windows 7 computer configured to share specific folders, you are ready to access the folders from your Mac. There are two methods of access you can use; here is the second method.

Access Shared Windows Files Using a Finder Window's Sidebar

You can configure the Finder's sidebar to automatically show servers and other shared network resources. The advantage of this method is that you don't need to know the Windows 7 IP address, nor will you have to log in, as the default is to use the Windows 7 Guest access method.

The downside is that it can take a little longer for the Windows 7 server to show up in the Finder sidebar, as much as a few minutes after the server is available.

Enabling Servers in the Finder Sidebar

  1. Click the 'Finder' icon in the Dock to ensure that the Finder is the frontmost application.
  2. From the Finder menu, select 'Preferences.'
  3. Click the 'Sidebar' tab.
  4. Place a check mark next to 'Connected Servers' under the 'Shared' section.
  5. Close the Finder Preferences window.

Using the Sidebar's Shared Servers

  1. Click the 'Finder' icon in the Dock to open a Finder window.
  2. In the 'Shared' section of the sidebar, your Windows 7 computer should be listed by its computer name.
  3. Click the Windows 7 computer's name in the sidebar.
  4. The Finder window should spend a moment saying 'Connecting,' then display all of the folders you have marked as shared in Windows 7.
  5. Click any of the shared folders in the Finder window to access the shared files it contains.
08
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File Sharing: Win 7 and Snow Leopard: Finder Tips For Accessing Win 7 Folders

Now that you have access to your Windows files, how about a few tips for working with them?

Working With Windows 7 Files

  • When using the Finder's Connect to Server method, you can save a server address so you won't need to retype it every time you want to access it. To save a server address, enter the smb server address and then click the + (plus) button.
The next time you need to access those Windows files, you can just click on the saved address in the Favorite Servers list.
  • When using the Finder's Connect to Server method, you can enter a shared folder name as part of the smb address. This will allow you to go directly to the desired folder without having to select it from a list of multiple folders being shared from the Windows machine.
Enter the folder name in the following manner (without the period at the end):
smb://serveripadress/folder name.
For example: smb://192.168.1.44/My Music.
  • Folders you access from your Windows 7 machine are mounted on the desktop, just like a hard drive. Drag the mounted folder from the desktop to the 'Devices' area of a Finder window's sidebar. Now whenever you mount the Windows folder, it will automatically appear in the Finder sidebar under the Devices category.
  • You can eject shared folders that are mounted on the desktop just like other removable media. Ejecting the folder closes the network connection to the Windows machine.
To eject a shared folder, right-click on its desktop icon and select 'Eject' from the pop-up menu.
If you have the shared folder listed in the sidebar of the Finder window, you can click on the small eject icon to the right of the folder name to eject it.