Macs and PC can share files from either computer's hard drive to the other.
You will need a wired or wireless router.
Follow instructions to the right for connecting your Mac to a Windows XP PC.
How Do I Network My Mac and PC?Categories: How do I...?, Switching from Windows
Update for Snow Leopard (2/2010):
To set up Windows file sharing:
Choose Apple menu > System Preferences and click Sharing.
Select File Sharing in the list, then click Options.
Select “Share files and folders using SMB.”
Select the checkbox next to the user account that will be used to share files with Windows users, and enter the password for that user and click OK.
To help keep your computer secure, you may want to create a special account for Windows users in Accounts preferences.
Give Windows users your computer’s address and the name and password they should use to share files with your computer. Your computer’s address is visible in the Sharing pane.
UPDATE for Windows 7 and Snow Leopard: Jeramy found this helpful site for the latest (4/2010) directions.
Here is the orginal MFM article from August 2007:
You’ve bought your first Mac, but you are not ready yet to kick your PC to the curb? But how do you use both side by side and share files between them? The simplest way is to network them together and share files from one computer, but you can set them up so you can use shared folders on each of them at the same time.
Both Macs and PCs have built in networking to accomplish this. Connecting them together takes a bit of work but is not very difficult. Follow along as we set both of them up for file sharing.
Network, What Network??
A network is simply two or more computers connected to each other either directly or through some additional hardware. This article assumes you have your Mac and your PC connected together through a router. This can be your wireless router like an Airport Express or another brand, or a little box you connect via Ethernet cables.
Setting up the Mac
In order to get access to your Mac from a PC you need to change some settings in the Systems Preferences. Log on to your Mac with an Administrator account, open System Preferences from the Apple menu and select the Sharing Preference Pane.
Select the Windows Sharing button and click the Start button to allow sharing. Now you need to choose an account you want to share with your PC. Click on the Accounts button and you will see a list of all the accounts on your Mac. Choose the account or accounts you want to share with the PC and click Done.
Next you have to set your Mac to use the same workgroup as your PC. Go to the Utilities folder and launch Directory Access. Select the SMB/CIFS item and click on Configure. In the drop down window type in a name for the workgroup you want to use. It can be any name but remember what it is because you will need to set the PC to use this same name. The default is Workgroup so we’ll go with that. You can leave the WINS Server item blank, we don’t need it. Click on Apply and your Mac is ready to share files with the PC.
Setting up the PC
Setting up the PC involves similar tasks. First, you must have a user account with a password. Even if it is the only account on your PC it is required so that when you connect from your Mac, the Mac and PC know you are authorized to access the files.
Select a folder you want to hold your shared files. I’ve created a folder called Stuff. Right click on the folder and select Sharing and Security from the pop up menu.
In the Network Sharing and Security section, check both the Share this folder on the network box and the Allow network users to change my files. The second check box is needed if you want to be able to write to this folder from the Mac. If it is not checked then the folder will be read only. The Share name should already be filled in with the name of the shared folder. You can change it to something else if you want or leave it as the name of the folder. Click Apply, then OK. Windows will work for a little bit setting up the sharing. When it is done the shared folder should have a little hand holding it.
Next we need to make sure the built in Windows Firewall is set up to allow filesharing. Go to Start – Control Panel and select Windows Firewall. Click on the Exceptions tab and make sure File and Printer Sharing is checked.
If you are running a security suite such as McAfee or Norton you will need to see if there is a firewall running with that application as well. If there is another firewall, you will need to find the settings to allow file sharing. You want to be sure the following ports are allowed access:
Next we need to get the IP address of the PC and make sure its network group matches the network group we defined on the Mac earlier. Go to Start – Control Panels and open the Network Connections control panel. Select Local Area Connection. Make a note of the IP Address in the Details pane in the lower left; you will need this address later.
Time to Connect
Everything should be good to go to share files both from the PC to the Mac and from the Mac to the PC. We’ll start with the PC.
Press the Windows Key + E to get a new Windows Explorer window. Expand My Network Places, expand Entire Network, expand Microsoft Windows Network and finally expand Workgroup. This last item should match the name of the network we defined earlier. Once the Workgroup item is expanded you should see a list of all the servers connected to the Workgroup network. Double click the Mac you want to share with, in my case it is Dad’s G5. You will get a window asking for a username and password. Enter the username and password for the Mac account you chose when we set up the Mac for filesharing and click OK. A window should now be open showing files on your Mac. You can navigate through these files just as you would any other PC. You can copy and paste just as if it was another folder on your PC.
Connecting from the Mac to the PC is a little bit different. From the Finder menu bar select Go then Connect to Server. In the server address field enter smb//youripaddress/ except enter the IP Address you wrote down earlier. So for my example you would enter smb://192.168.1.197/
You will get another window where you enter the workgroup, username and password. The username and password are the username and password you use on the PC. The Mac may fill in the username with the username from the Mac. Just delete it and use your PC username.
Once you’ve entered all the info click OK. Another window will open showing the shared folders on the PC. Pick the one you want to use and click OK. A Finder window will open showing the shared folder as a mounted drive on the left and the contents in the main pane.
That’s it you can now connect from your PC to your Mac and vice versa. Happy filesharing!!!!
Jeff Cyr is a Senior Systems Engineer with RockwellCollins in Melbourne, Florida. Jeff also has a small business offering requirements capture and other Systems Engineering services. His first Mac was a Performa 530 that he bought in the early 90's.
Did this help you get your Mac and PC talking? Have you found a simpler method? Let us know in the Comments section below!