DIY: Log in to a Windows domain from OS X

Jack Wallen answers a TechRepublic member's question about how to log in to a Windows machine from OS X using domain credentials.

Following up on the heels of my last Ask Jack post, DIY: Add Linux machines to a Windows domain, Quan Duong wants to know more. Read my "simple" answer to this reader's question.

Q: I add an iMAC to a Domain successfully but I cannot log on using Domain users. The log on Windows only show the local iMAC login and I don't see the choice for Domain users login. If I login with local user, I could use the network shares but I have to provide Domain users authentication every time. How do I log on using domain users? A: By default, OS X has a very simple login screen that allows local users only to log in to the machine. To change this to a login screen that will allow logging in to domains, do the following:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Go to the Accounts option and select Login Options.
  3. If Automatically Log In As is enabled, disable it.
  4. Under Display Login Window As, select the list of users from the radio buttons.
  5. If Fast User Switching is enabled, disable it.

After you complete the above configuration, restart the machine. Once the machine reboots, you should be able to log in with your domain credentials.

Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website


This has been plaguing us since our DNS/DHCP servers were moved from a Linux box to a Windows box almost two years ago. Apple says it is a server setting and the network admin says it is a Mac thing. I'm sure it is somewhere in the middle and have to agree with Apple when I see a NETBIOS name from a machine that no longer exists appear on a Mac. How would the Mac pull that info out of the air if it didn't exist in the DNS server table or database somewhere? I'm not a network person, but it sounds like the DNS/DHCP server is not refreshing info when reassigning an IP address to a different machine. It would be nice to finally solve this mystery.


How come the Macs pick up some random Windows computer's NETBIOS name as their own? One of the sites I support has a Windows SBS 2003 domain with a half-dozen or so PCs, XP and W7. There are also three Macs, all either Leopard or Snow Leopard. Irrespective of whether I have set the networking "Advanced" options to use a NETBIOS name on the Macs (and it never seems to make adifference if I do or not anyway), if you open a Terminal window on a Mac the prompt will tell you you are at one of the Windows machines. Let me tell you, it is a bit of a Twighlight Zone moment, the first couple of times you see that. It's completely random; one I saw today was the name of a PC that has been switched off for months. Where the hell is it getting that from? What can I do about it? And where can I definitively set the network name of a Mac? (I realise the NETBIOS name is the one you see if you browse the network using a Windows machine, I'm talking about the name that the Mac registers with DNS when it picks up an IP from the DHCP server) Do you have to, as it seems is the case, set this name for each network interface?


When a Windows machine is given a DHCP address from the Windows Server DHCP service, it registers the PTR record (IP-to-name) in the Windows Server DNS service. Unless you prune those, they stick around indefinitely. Then, when you ping an address, the pingER will do a reverse lookup of the pingEE's IP address and find the PTR record in DNS. You may even get different hostnames with every ping, if there are multiple PTR records assigned to one IP.


Thanks for the hint, I'll look into this. In the case of the network I am talking about, the DHCP & DNS servers are the self-same W2003 Small Bus Svr, so that also gels with what Roodavis is saying above. Hmmm, interesting.

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