How do I... Add Macs to a Windows Vista workgroup?

Love 'em or hate 'em, Macs have an increasing presence within business workgroups. Fortunately, advances within Apple's OS X operating system simplify connecting Windows Vista and Macs on the same network. Windows administrators can follow these steps to add Macs to Windows Vista-powered workgroups.

This article was originally published describing how to add Macs to a Windows workgroup. That article is also available as a download.

See the related photo gallery for this article.

Verify the PC side

After confirming the Windows Vista and Macintosh systems all boast Ethernet connections and required switches or wireless connectivity, begin by verifying the Windows Vista workgroup name. (See Figure A.)

  1. Click Start.
  2. Right-click Computer and select Properties.
  3. Scroll to the Computer Name, Domain And Workgroup Settings section.
  4. Note or record the name of the workgroup to which you wish to add the Mac.

Figure A

Verify the Windows Vista workgroup name by right-clicking My Computer, selecting Properties, and clicking the Computer Name tab. The example here reveals the workgroup name to be WORKGROUP.

Next, confirm the Windows workgroup is sharing the appropriate files within the peer-to-peer network.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Select Computer.
  3. Navigate to the locations of the folders and drives you wish to share with Macintosh users (look for folder featuring the Microsoft "group" icon — featuring two torsos — indicating the resource is being shared with others). (See Figure B.)
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To share folders with Macintosh users:

  1. Right-click the appropriate folders and select Share from the pop-up menu.
  2. Specify the user accounts that should receive permission to access the resources.

Figure B

Specify those user accounts that should be able to connect to the Windows Vista-hosted resources.
  1. Click Share.
  2. Windows Vista will respond that it requires permission to complete the operation; click Continue.
  3. Windows Vista will confirm the folder is being shared. Click Done to close the confirmation window. (See Figure C.)

Figure C

Windows Vista confirms resources have been successfully shared.

Once you've confirmed the correct Windows Vista files are being shared, or if you only wish to share a printer, check to ensure the appropriate printer is being shared by following these steps:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Click the Printer entry within the Hardware And Sound section.
  4. Installed printers will appear (look for a Microsoft "group" icon that indicates the printer's shared status).

To share Windows Vista-hosted printers with Macintosh users:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Click the Printer entry within the Hardware And Sound section.
  4. Right-click the installed printer and select Sharing.
  5. Click the Change Sharing Options button. (See Figure D.)

Figure D

Use the Change Sharing Options button to adjust Windows Vista printer permissions.
  1. Windows Vista will display a window announcing it requires permission to complete the operation; click Continue.
  2. Check the Share This Printer checkbox.
  3. Click the Security tab and specify appropriate permissions.
  4. Click OK. A Microsoft group icon will appear denoting the printer's new shared status. (See Figure E.)

Figure E

Gone is the blue hand icon from earlier Windows versions that indicated a folder or printer was being shared. In its place in Windows Vista is a group icon, shown here accompanying the HP PSC 1400 Series printer.

Before connecting the Macintosh units to the Windows Vista-powered workgroup, you need to review the users/groups and permissions associated with the shared resources (to ensure you can properly configure the Macintoshes to connect to them). For each shared resource:

  1. Right-click the respective folder or printer icon and select Properties from the pop-up menu.
  2. Click the Security tab.
  3. Note the group or user names receiving access to the resource. (See Figure F.)
  4. Note the specific permissions each group or user receives.
  5. Make any required adjustments to group and user permissions for folders using the Edit button, as in Figure G (for printers, use the Add/Remove buttons in Windows Vista).
  6. Click OK (if you've made any changes or just close the window).

Figure F

Use the Security tab to configure specific permissions for users and groups.

Figure G

When configuring folder security in Windows Vista, use the Edit button to configure user permissions.


Now you're ready to move to the Macintosh. To connect the Macintosh to an existing Windows Vista workgroup, from the Apple system:

  1. Click on the Dock's Finder icon.
  2. Click on Network in the Finder's left sidebar.
  3. Online workgroup systems will appear within Finder. (See Figure H.)

Figure H

Connected systems appear within the Macintosh Finder application.
  1. Select the system hosting the resources you wish to connect to.
  2. Click the Connect button.
  3. The Macintosh will display a dialog box that reads Select The SMB/CIFS Shared Volume You Want To Connect To. (See Figure I.) Select the proper share (using the provided drop-down menu) and click the OK button.

Figure I

Specify the share you wish to connect to, then click OK.
  1. If prompted, enter the workgroup name and a user name and password possessing permissions to access the resource within the SMB window that appears and click OK. (See Figure J.)

Figure J

Provide a valid Windows user name and password to connect to Windows resources from the Macintosh, if prompted.
  1. The Windows-based resources will appear within the Finder (See Figure K); simply drag an item from the Finder to the Macintosh Desktop to begin using it.

Figure K

Windows Vista resources will then appear within Finder.

Often, workgroup names don't match. However, Windows Vista, by default, places systems in a workgroup named Workgroup (whereas Windows XP Home systems created a workgroup named MSHome). If the Windows Vista workgroup name has been changed, it will be necessary to update the Apple PC's workgroup name; the Mac uses the default Workgroup name. To change the Mac's default workgroup name:

  1. Click the Dock's Finder icon.
  2. Click Applications.
  3. Scroll to the Utilities folder and select it.
  4. Double-click Directory Access.

Figure L

Use the Mac's Directory Access utility to turn on Windows Sharing.
  1. Enable changes by clicking the padlock. (See Figure L.)
  2. Provide an Administrator account user name and password.
  3. Double-click SMB/CIFS.
  4. Enter the workgroup name you wish to use in the resulting window or select it from the provided drop-down menu.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Close Directory Access.

Sharing resources

To share Mac-based resources with the Windows Vista systems within a workgroup, sit at the Macintosh and:

  1. Click the Dock's System Preferences icon.
  2. Click Sharing within the Internet & Network section.
  3. Ensure the checkbox for Windows Sharing is checked.
  4. Click the Accounts button.
  5. Check the boxes to specify which Macintosh accounts are authorized to use Windows Sharing.
  6. Also, verify Windows Sharing is on (and hasn't been stopped); if it's not on, click the Start button to reactivate Windows Sharing. (See Figure M.)

Figure M

Confirm Windows Sharing is enabled on the Macintosh.

Next, move to a Windows system from which you wish to access Macintosh resources and:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Network.
  3. Look for the Apple system to appear within the Network window. (See Figure N.)

Figure N

Look for workgroup-connected Macs to appear within Windows Vista's Network window. In this example you can see the Macintosh with Windows Sharing enabled registers as APPLEG4.
  1. The home folder for the current logged-in Mac user appears. Double-click the user's home folder icon to access the shared resources. (See Figure O).

Note that sometimes Mac systems don't automatically appear in Windows Vista. You can often overcome any workgroup browsing issue by opening the Network application within Windows Vista and typing within the address field the Mac's IP address and the name of the currently logged in Mac user. For example, the address can be entered as \\\john if the Mac's IP address is and the username is john.

Figure O

Once configured, accessing Macintosh resources within a Windows Vista system is just like accessing resources hosted by other Windows boxes.

To print to a printer hosted by a Windows Vista system using a Macintosh:

  1. Click the Dock's System Preferences icon.
  2. Click the Print & Fax icon within the Hardware section.
  3. Click the Lock (if it's closed) to enable changes (and provide an administrator user name and password).
  4. Click the Plus icon to add a printer.
  5. Click the More Printers button.
  6. Ensure Windows Printing is selected from within the first drop-down menu.
  7. Ensure Network Neighborhood is selected from within the second drop-down menu.
  8. Highlight the workgroup possessing the printer you wish to print to and click Choose.
  9. Highlight the Windows workstation hosting the printer and click Choose.
  10. Enter a Windows user name and password possessing permissions to print to the printer and click OK.
  11. Select the printer from the Printer Browser menu.
  12. Specify the printer model using the supplied drop-down menu (or select the Generic listing).
  13. Click the Add button.

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