Consider this a 101 tutorial, but one that’s necessary. It’s surprising just how many IT professionals don’t know how to connect Mac OS X systems to Windows shares. Assuming the systems are operating on the same subnet, and assuming folders and files are shared on the Windows clients or server, it’s easy to connect Mac OS X Snow Leopard systems to those shares.

Begin using Finder

Begin by opening the Mac OS X Finder. Look for network resources automatically discovered by Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Automatically discovered network systems will be displayed within the Finder’s sidebar’s Shared list. Double-clicking on shared resources found there may prompt the user to authenticate against the host system; enter the username and password of an account possessing the appropriate privileges, then the shared resources become available.

Windows administrators unfamiliar with the Mac’s Shared list should note the Shared list displays only the first eight systems it finds. Users must click the All Items link when additional systems are present. Users should remember, too, that the Finder’s Shared resources must be selected from within the Finder’s Sidebar Preferences settings if the Shared resources are to appear within Finder.

Next try the Network folder

Mac OS X users can also browse network resources using Snow Leopard’s Network folder. Click Go and select Network from the Mac’s menu bar. The Network folder works differently than the Mac’s Shared list. The Mac’s Network folder isn’t really a folder. Instead, the Mac’s Network “folder” collects all network file services discovered using a variety of methods, including manually mounted systems and resources located using not just Apple’s Bonjour service (that scours networks for Apple Filing Protocol resources) but also NetBIOS/WINS (which helps locate Server Message Block-hosted resources).

Manually connect

Snow Leopard users can also connect to Windows client and server shares using simple manual connections. To do so, click Go and select Connect To Server. The Connect To Server window will open. Enter the address of the Windows system using this format: smb://, where is the local IP address of the Windows host, then click the Connect button.

If Kerberos authentication is in use, the Mac will try to authenticate by passing its credentials to the Windows machine. The Windows host will prompt the Snow Leopard user for a password. If the Mac has previously connected to the Windows machine and a successful logon occurred, the Mac will attempt a reconnection using the same credentials stored within its keychain. If the Mac succeeds in connecting to the Windows system, the Windows share will then be listed within the Shared list in Finder.

If the Snow Leopard system has not previously authenticated with the Windows share, or if the credentials no longer match, Snow Leopard will display a Name and Password box for connecting. Supply the username and password of an account possessing the appropriate permissions on the Windows machine and click the Connect button. If you wish to store the password for future use, be sure to check the Remember This Password In My Keychain box.

Once authenticated, Snow Leopard users will be prompted to select which folders or volumes they wish to access on the host Windows computer. Multiple selections can be made simultaneously by highlighting the appropriate volumes using the Command key. Those resources will then appear within the Shared list within Finder and be available to the Snow Leopard user.