Microsoft

SolutionBase: Joining Macs to Windows networks

The first step in optimizing Mac use is ensuring Apple systems can share resources with Windows systems. In addition to ensuring Mac users can access files and printers on Windows systems, technology professionals can configure Windows systems to access files and printers on Macs. Erik Eckel offers a look at what's involved.

In the past, Windows administrators often viewed Apple computers as eccentric systems demanded by a few quirky graphic artists. Often, Apple computers were deployed and quickly forgotten by admins, who became frustrated troubleshooting strange occasional anomalies, such as whenever an AppleTalk configuration failed or file incompatibilities arose.

The first step in optimizing Mac use is ensuring Apple systems can share resources with Windows systems. In addition to ensuring Mac users can access resources (including files and printers) on Windows systems, technology professionals can configure Windows systems to access files and printers on Macs. Here's a look at what's involved.

Sharing Windows resources with Macs

The first step in sharing Windows files and printers with Macs on peer-to-peer networks involves confirming the Windows workgroup name. To verify a Windows Vista workgroup name:

  1. On the Windows system, press Start.
  2. Right-click Computer.
  3. Select Properties.
  4. Scroll to the Computer Name, Domain And Workgroup section.
  5. Record the workgroup name.

The second step in sharing Windows files and printers with Macs on workgroups involves confirming Windows systems are configured to share their resources. To confirm resources are properly shared:

  1. On the Windows system, press Start.
  2. Select Computer.
  3. Browse to those folders you wish to share with Mac users.
  4. Right-click the folders you wish to share.
  5. Select Share from the pop-up menu that appears.
  6. Indicate which user accounts should receive which permission to access the folder.
  7. Press Share.
  8. Press Continue.
  9. Press Done.

To share a Windows printer with a Mac:

  1. On the Windows system, press Start.
  2. Press Control Panel.
  3. Browse to the Hardware And Sound section and select Printers (or, if using Control Panel's Classic View, double-click the Printers applet).
  4. Right-click the printer you wish to make available to Apple computers.
  5. Select the Sharing tab.
  6. Press the Change Sharing Options button.
  7. Press Continue.
  8. Select the Share This Printer checkbox.
  9. Select the Security tab.
  10. Specify the permissions you wish to provide respective users.
  11. Press OK.

Now that Windows resources (both folders and printers) have been shared, the third step is to access the resources from the Apple computers. To access the shared Windows folders and printers from a Mac:

  1. From within Mac OS X, open Finder.
  2. Press Network.
  3. Workgroup systems that are currently online will appear.
  4. Select the system that hosts the resources you wish to access, as shown in Figure A.
  5. Press the Connect button.
  6. A dialog box will appear listing available shared volumes on the system to which you're connecting. Select the appropriate volume from the provided drop-down box and press OK. If prompted, enter a username and password for an account possessing permission to access the volume, as shown in Figure B.
  7. The volume will then appear as an option within Finder, as shown in Figure C. In addition, a shortcut icon to the shared volume is created on the Mac desktop. Mac users can then access files within the volume by selecting the volume's icon and browsing its contents.

Figure A

Workgroup systems that are online and sharing resources will appear within the Mac's Finder utility.

Figure B

From the Select The SMB/CIFS Shared Volume You Want To Connect To box, select the appropriate shared volume you wish to access (using the provided drop-down box) and press OK.

Figure C

Once connected, a shortcut to the shared volume (in this case the Data volume) appears within the Finder utility.

To connect to a shared Windows printer on a Mac:

  1. From the Macintosh, open System Preferences.
  2. Select Print & Fax from the Hardware section.
  3. Press the + sign to add a printer.
  4. Press the More Printers button.
  5. Ensure Windows Printing is selected in the top drop-down box.
  6. From the second drop-down box, select the appropriate Windows Workgroup.
  7. Next, highlight the Windows system hosting the printer you wish to connect the Mac to, and press Choose, as seen in Figure D.
  8. Enter the name and password of an account possessing permission to configure the printer, and press OK.
  9. Select the printer you wish to connect to the Mac.
  10. Press Add.

Figure D

Mac users leverage the Mac's Print & Fax applet to add printers.

Now that we've reviewed sharing Windows resources and connecting to them from the Macintosh, let's explore going the other way. In the next section, we'll review the steps for sharing Mac resources and connecting to those resources from Windows-based workstations.

Sharing Mac resources with Windows PCs

The first step in sharing Mac files and printers with Windows systems involves confirming Macs are configured properly to share their resources. To share a Mac's resources with Windows users:

  1. Open System Preferences on the Macintosh system that hosts the resources you wish to share.
  2. Select Sharing from the Internet & Network section.
  3. Enable the Mac to share resources with Windows systems by checking the Windows Sharing checkbox as seen in Figure E. Note that you will likely have to press on the padlock in the menu's lower left corner and enter an administrative username and password to make the change.

Figure E

Windows Sharing must be enabled on Macs to share resources with Windows users.

  1. Press the Accounts button to display a list of user accounts that exist on the Mac, then specify which of those accounts should be allowed to share resources with Windows systems, as shown in Figure F. Since Windows passwords must be stored in a less secure manner than Mac OS X passwords, you'll have to re-enter the username passwords before proceeding.

Figure F

Configure account permissions on the Mac by pressing the Accounts button on the Sharing menu.

  1. When you've completed assigning permissions, press the Done button.
  2. To share any Mac printers with Windows systems, select the Printer Sharing checkbox.

The second step in sharing Mac resources with Windows systems is to ensure all systems are members of the same workgroup. Resource sharing is simplified when the Macintosh shares the same workgroup name as the Windows systems that will be connecting to resources hosted on the Mac. To confirm or change the Mac workgroup name:

  1. Log on to the Macintosh computer.
  2. Press Finder.
  3. Open Applications.
  4. Select Utilities.
  5. Press Directory Access.
  6. Press on the padlock and provide an administrative username and password.
  7. Double-click the SMB/CIFs entry that appears.
  8. Review or change the workgroup name to match that used by Windows systems.
  9. Press OK.

The third step in sharing Mac files and printers with Windows boxes involves connecting to the Mac resources from the Windows systems. To connect to shared resources on Macs:

  1. From the Windows systems, press Start.
  2. Select Network.
  3. Locate the respective Apple system and double-click it, as shown in Figure G. Occasionally, networking issues prevent systems from displaying automatically. If you don't see an entry for a specific Apple system known to be online and sharing its resources, you can try accessing that system using its IP address).

Figure G

Here, you can see an Apple with shared resources appears within the Network window.

  1. Next, supply a username and password for an account having permission to access the Mac's resources.
  2. The Mac's shared resources will appear.
  3. Double-click an item to access it. Note that, when you connect to a printer, Windows Vista attempts to load the appropriate driver. Typically, the Mac won't host the appropriate Windows-based driver. In such cases, Windows Vista opens the Windows Add Printer Wizard that will enable you to load the correct print driver.

Summary

Macs are increasingly appearing within businesses and other organizations. By taking a few moments to familiarize themselves with the configuration settings required to share resources between the platforms, Windows administrators can help ensure cross-platform opportunities are maximized.

About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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