Love ’em or hate ’em, Macs are likely to be on your network. Fortunately, advances within Apple’s OS X operating system simplify connecting Windows XP and Macs on the same network. Windows administrators can follow these steps to add Macs to Windows workgroups.

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Verify the PC side

After confirming the Windows and Mac systems all have Ethernet connections and required switches or wireless connectivity, begin by verifying the Windows workgroup name (Figure A):

  1. Click Start.
  2. Right-click My Computer and select Properties.
  3. Select the Computer Name tab.
  4. Note or record the name of the workgroup you wish to add the Mac to.

Figure A

Verify the Windows workgroup name by right-clicking My Computer, selecting Properties, and clicking the Computer Name tab.

Next, confirm the Windows workgroup is sharing the appropriate files within the workgroup:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Double-click My Computer.
  3. Verify the appropriate folders are shared (look for the folder held by a blue hand icon (Figure B), thereby indicating the resource is being shared).

Figure B

The blue hand icon notes shared resources.

Once you’ve confirmed the right Windows files are being shared, or if you only wish to share a printer, check to ensure a printer or printers are being shared by:

  1. Clicking Start.
  2. Clicking Printers and Faxes.
  3. Confirming a printer is being shared (look for the same blue hand icon indicating the printer is a shared resource).

 Before connecting the Mac units to the workgroup, you need to review the users/groups and permissions associated with the shared resources (to ensure you can properly configure the Macs to connect to the resources). For each shared resource:

  1. Right-click the shared resource and select Properties from the pop-up menu.
  2. Click the Security tab (Figure C).
  3. Note the group or user names receiving access to the resource.
  4. Note the specific permissions each group or user receives.
  5. Make any required adjustments to group and user permissions using the supplied Add and Remove buttons.
  6. Click OK (if you’ve made any changes or just close the window).

Figure C

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

If you don’t see permissions listed specifically for each user, your Windows XP system is likely set to Simple File Sharing. To turn Simply File Sharing off and enable more granular control of file and printer shares:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Select My Computer.
  3. Click Tools.
  4. Click Folder Options.
  5. Select the View tab.
  6. Within the Advanced settings window, scroll toward the bottom, find the Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended) check box, and ensure it’s deselected.
  7. Click OK.


Now you’re ready to move to the Mac. To connect the Mac to an existing Windows workgroup:

  1. Click on the Dock’s Finder icon.
  2. Click on Network in the Finder’s left sidebar (Figure D).
  3. Click on Workgroup.
  4. Select the system hosting the resources you wish to connect to.
  5. Click the Connect button.
  6. 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 (Figure E).
  7. Select the resource you wish to connect to, then click OK (Figure F).
  8. Once the Windows-based resources appear in the Finder, simply drag an item from the Finder to the Mac Desktop to begin using it (Figure G).

Figure D

Use Finder on the Mac to begin sharing resources.

Figure E

You’ll have to provide the workgroup name and a valid Windows user name and password to connect to Windows resources from the Mac.

Figure F

Specify the resources you wish to connect to on the Windows network.

Figure G

Windows resources will appear within Finder once the Mac completes its connection to the Windows system.

Often, workgroup names won’t match up perfectly. Many Windows XP systems are set to use “MShome” as their workgroup, while others use the standard “Workgroup” workgroup name. The Mac uses the default Workgroup name. However, if you wish to change the Mac’s default workgroup name, follow these steps:

  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 H).
  5. Enable changes by clicking the padlock.
  6. Provide an Administrator account user name and password.
  7. Double-click SMB/CIFS.
  8. Enter the workgroup name you wish to use in the resulting window or select it from the provided drop-down menu.
  9. Click Apply.
  10. Close Directory Access.

Figure H

Use the Mac’s Directory Access utility to turn on Windows Sharing.

Sharing resources

To share Mac-based resources with the Windows systems within a workgroup, sit at the Mac and perform these steps:

  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 Mac accounts are authorized to use Windows Sharing.
  6. Ensure Windows Sharing is on; if it’s not, click the Start button.

Next, move to a Windows system from which you wish to access Mac resources and do the following:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click My Network Places.
  3. Click View Workgroup Computers from the Network Tasks window; the Mac system may appear.
  4. If the Mac system didn’t appear within My Network Places, go to plan B; click Add a Network Place within the Task Pane.
  5. When the Add Network Place Wizard appears, click Next.
  6. Highlight Choose Another Network Location and click Next.
  7. Within the Internet or network address box, specify the Mac system’s IP address (which can typically be found by clicking the Dock’s System Preferences icon on the Mac, selecting Network, and choosing Built-in Ethernet from the Show drop-down menu), followed by the Mac user name, then click Next. Note this is an absolutely critical step: the network address must be entered as \\\john if the Mac’s IP address is and the user name is john (Figure I).
  8. Specify a name for the network place and click Next.
  9. Click Finish.
  10. The Mac resources will then appear within Windows.

Figure I

Once configured, accessing Mac resources from a Windows system is just like accessing resources on another Windows box.

Finally, to print to a printer hosted by a Windows system using a Mac:

  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.