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Sharing Files with Windows Computers in Mac OS X

If you've deigned to allow PCs running Windows on your network (a generous gesture to the lower classes), you'll probably want to also share files with those computers. Sharing files with a Windows PC — actually a Windows user — is very similar to sharing files with other Mac users.

Follow these steps:

1. Click the System Preferences icon on the Dock.

2. Click the Sharing icon to open the Sharing Preferences pane.

3. On the Services panel, mark the Windows Sharing check box to enable it.

After a few moments, you see the message Windows Sharing On appear just above the Stop button, confirming that you're now open to connections from the Great Unwashed Windows Horde.

Just like when sharing files with other Mac users, you see a helpful reminder toward the bottom that tells you what the Windows users need to type in order to gain access to your Mac. Also, you may have to enable Windows access on the desired account before it can be used. Click Enable Accounts and then mark the check box next to the account that you want to share with Windows users. Tiger prompts you for your password, smugly informing you that the account password will be stored "in a less secure manner."

If you allow a Windows PC to access your files, you'll also probably want to putter around with files on a Windows PC. Easy!

Accessing files on Windows computers relies on the Samba component (a part of the UNIX foundation of Mac OS X). Follow these steps:

1. Choose Go --> Connect to Server from the Finder.

The Connect to Server dialog box opens.

2. In the Address box, enter smb://<ip address>, where ip address is the IP address of the Windows computer that you want to connect to.

3. Click the Connect button.

Depending on the type of account you have on the Windows PC, Mac OS X may display an SMB (Server Message Block) authentication dialog box in which you can enter your username and password. (Think security for the Windows crowd.)

4. Select the desired shared drive to mount from the drop-down list box.

5. Mount the shared drive, OS-version-dependent:

• If you're accessing a file shared on a Windows 95 or Windows 98 computer: Simply click OK to mount the share.

• If you're accessing a file shared on a Windows NT, 2000, or XP computer: Click the Authenticate button. Then enter your username and password, click OK, and then click OK again to mount the share.

After you mount the shared drive, you'll see it appear on your Desktop, just like a Mac volume. You can use this drive just like any other drive on your system. To disconnect from the Windows share, you can do one of the following:

  • Drag the icon to the Trash on the Dock (which changes to an Eject icon when you start dragging).
  • Press Command+E.
  • Hold Control, click the icon, and then choose Eject from the menu that appears.
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