We all know about the large
gulf that often separates users of different computing platforms. Mac users
dis Windows users and vice versa, and who can stomach those Linux users?
Just joking! But I’m here to show you how we can all just get along, at
least in a Mac and Windows shared network environment.
It used to be that adding a Mac to a Windows network was a difficult
process that would cause the IT people to roll their eyes and groan. Going
the opposite direction was similarly problematic; people with lots of Mac
networking experience found dealing with the PC’s very frustrating. With
modern Mac OS and Windows systems, networking them is a piece of cake.
The two computers need to be physically networked together; this can
simply be a single Ethernet cable (modern Macs can autodetect whether the
cable is a crossover cable or not, you can use either) connecting them,
a more complex network with a hub or a wireless network. For detailed instructions
on networking see AppleCare Document number 106658 “How to Create a
Small Ethernet Network.” in the Support section of Apple’s
Once the computers are networked, Mac OS X 10.2 (aka Jaguar) makes it
easy to network your Mac with your Windows XP system (this works with Windows
98 or higher, but my direct experience is with XP). First, you need to
turn on Windows File Sharing in Mac OS X. To do this, open the Sharing
Preference Panel in the System Preferences application (from the Apple
menu select System Preferences). Under the “Services” tab check the box
next to “Windows File Sharing”. When you highlight this selection you will
see some instructions at the bottom of the panel describing how you connect
to your Mac from Windows. This same panel is where you can turn on Printer
Sharing. On my system, I found that the Windows File Sharing would not
stay on unless I locked the settings by clicking the Lock icon at the bottom
of the preference pane.
You will also need to select the “Accounts” preference panel, select
the account(s) you want to have access from Windows and click the “Edit”
button. After you enter your password you need to check the box that says
“Allow user to log in from Windows”. For more information about this procedure
check out AppleCare Document 107083 “Mac OS X 10.2: How to Set Up Windows
In Windows XP you need to go to the Control Panel and select “Network
Connections.” Follow the instructions in the “New Connection Wizard” to
share files and printers.
This setup works great for me. I have three Macs (two on Jaguar and
one legacy Mac clone running Mac OS 9.1) and one PC running Windows XP.
I routinely share files between my XP computer and my desktop PowerMac
G4. All of these computers share a broadband Internet connection (Southwestern
Bell DSL) using a Linksys EtherFast Cable/DSL router.
Not all Mac users have made the leap to Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar yet. If
you are running Mac OS 9 or earlier you can still have a mixed network
environment, but you will need some additional third-party software. You
have two basic options for full networking, either Thursby
Systems’ DAVE ($149) or Miramar
Systems PC MacLan ($199).
Thursby Systems’ excellent DAVE installs on your Mac and puts an icon
in the Chooser that lets you access PC networks through standard TCP/IP.
DAVE allows bi-directional file and printer sharing and since it does not
install anything in Windows so you don’t have to deal with any Windows
The other popular choice is Miramar Systems’ PC MacLan. This software
installs Appleshare networking protocols in Windows, basically putting
your PC on a Mac network. This solution also offers bi-directional file
and printer sharing, but since it installs in Windows and not on your Mac
you may need to know something about Windows networking to troubleshoot
any installation weirdness you may encounter. The nice part about this
solution is that if you are familiar with Mac networking it makes the whole
configuration on the Windows machine much more like what you are used to.
Both of these programs also work with Mac OS X and can enhance Jaguar’s
native Windows networking. You can download demo versions and try both
of them before you decide to buy one.
Keep in mind the limitations of working in a cross-platform environment.
Many file types are usable on both systems. Standard formats like TXT,
MP3, JPG and TIF are usable by lots of programs. Applications like Microsoft
Office and Adobe Photoshop create native files that are interchangeable
between platforms. Programs like Intuit Quicken and QuickBooks Pro have
very different formats on different platforms and you may need to use a
conversion utility to get them to work. In any case, you will not be able
to use a Windows program on your Mac (or vice versa) simply because they
are networked. Since the code is entirely different, you will need the
appropriate version, Mac or Windows, for the platform you are on. If you
want to use Photoshop on both systems, you will need to purchase two copies
of the program, one for Mac and the other for Windows.
A great resource for people in a mixed computer platform environment
is the excellent MacWindows