Share Windows 7 Files with OS X Lion

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Sharing Windows 7 Files with OS X Lion

How to Share Windows 7 Files With OS X Lion
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

If you have a mixed network of PCs and Macs, then you will more than likely want to be able to share files between the two competing OSes. It might sound like you've got some sticky times ahead of you, to get two different OSes talking to each other, but in fact, Windows 7 and OS X Lion are on pretty good speaking terms. All it takes is a bit of fiddling with some settings and making some notes about computer names and the IP addresses they're each using.

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

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

  • A Mac running OS X Lion (10.7.x) or later.
  • A PC running Windows 7. These instructions should work for the following versions of Windows 7: Ultimate, Professional, and Home Premium.
  • About 15 minutes of your time.
  • Some Windows files you want to share.
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Share Windows 7 Files With OS X 10.7 - Configuring the Mac's Workgroup Name

Share Windows 7 Files With OS X Lion - Configuring the Mac's Workgroup Name
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

In order to share files, your Mac and your PC must be in the same workgroup. The Mac OS and Windows 7 both use a default workgroup name of WORKGROUP. If you haven't changed the workgroup name on either computer, you can skip this step and go straight to Step 4 of this guide.

If you have made changes, or you're not sure if you have or not, read on to learn how to set your Mac's workgroup name.

Editing Your Mac's Workgroup Name

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock, or by selecting 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu.
  2. Click the Network icon, located in the Internet & Wireless section of the System Preferences window.
  3. The first thing we need to do is make a copy of your current location information. The Mac OS uses the term 'location' to refer to the current settings for all of your network interfaces. You can have multiple locations set up, each with different network interface settings. For instance, you could have a Home location that uses your wired Ethernet connection, and a Travel location that uses your wireless network. Locations can be created for many reasons. We're going to create a new location for a very simple reason: You can't edit the workgroup name on a location that is in active use.
  4. Select 'Edit Locations' from the Location drop-down menu.
  5. Select your current 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.
  6. Click the sprocket button and select 'Duplicate Location' from the pop-up menu.
  7. Type in a new name for the duplicate location, or just use the default one provided.
  8. Click the Done button.
  9. In the left-hand pane of the Network preference pane, select the connection type you use for connecting to your network. For most users, this will either be Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Don't worry if it currently says "Not connected" or "No IP Address" because you are currently working with the duplicate location, which isn't yet active.
  10. Click the Advanced button.
  11. Select the WINS tab.
  12. In the Workgroup field, enter the same workgroup name that you're using on your PC.
  13. Click the OK button.
  14. Click the Apply button.

After you click the Apply button, your network connection will be dropped. After a short time, your network connection will be re-established using the settings from the location you just edited.

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Share Windows 7 Files With Lion - Configuring the PC's Workgroup Name

Share Windows 7 Files With OS X Lion - Configuring the PC's Workgroup Name
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

As I mentioned in the previous step, in order to share files, your Mac and PC must use the same workgroup name. If you haven't made any changes to your PC or Mac's workgroup name, then you're all set, because both OSes use WORKGROUP as the default name.

If you have made changes to the workgroup name, or you're not sure, the following steps will walk you through the process of editing the workgroup name in Windows 7.

Change the Workgroup Name on Your Windows 7 PC

  1. Select Start, then right-click the Computer link.
  2. Select 'Properties' from the pop-up menu.
  3. In the System Information window that opens, confirm that the workgroup name is the same as the one you're using on your Mac. If it isn't, click the Change Settings link located in the Domain and Workgroup 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. The workgroup names in Windows 7 and the Mac OS must match exactly. 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.
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Share Windows 7 Files With OS X Lion - Completing the File Sharing Process

The process of configuring a PC's network settings, as well as selecting files on a Windows 7 PC and sharing them with a Mac, hasn't changed since we wrote the guide to sharing Windows 7 files with OS X 10.6. In fact, the sharing process with Lion is the same from this point on, so instead of repeating the entire content of the previous article, I'm going to link you to the remaining pages of that article, which will allow you to complete the file sharing process.

That's it; you should now be able to access any shared files and folders on your Windows 7 PC from your Mac.