This article was first published on 2009-02-13. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.


There are many, many ways to get your Mac and PC connected. This article describes how to find a Windows shared folder, or Map from your Mac to copy some files from your PC to your Mac using Samba. It doesn’t use the Internet or a router. Just connect the Mac and PC with one cable. The process is not all that difficult; this setup is the most minimal I have found yet. I describe a one way process, from a Windows Vista laptop to Mac OSX. Not the other way around.

Short Intro, What It Is, What It’s Not
I will try to describe a “SMB connection”, a protocol that allows files to be transferred, from one computer to the other, via a local network. The format is closed, but has been reverse engineered into open source as Samba. Samba runs on Linux and OSX, its a basic system service and does not need to be installed separately. OSX’s version of SMB is basically Samba.

Since OSX and Linux share the same protocol-set, its just as easy to connect your Linux system with your Mac, as it is with your PC, however, I don’t have any Linux installation on my laptop yet, so I’m not going to discuss it either (since it impossible to do some first hand testing myself).

Appletalk is another protocol, designed to do exactly the same thing, however, Apple left it behind in the switch to OS X, and Vista has no support for it. I merely mention its existence, for that you don’t confuse it with SMB.

Minimalism
This method  only requires one simple Ethernet cable, no routers, no additional hardware. No extra software or apps either, it works, just out of the box. Thats kinda cool I guess.

What We Need for This To Work
You need the following:

  1. A Windows system with Ethernet (Ethernet is part of the basic package for computers now, but that wasn’t always the case.)
  2. A Mac system.
  3. Ethernet cable

There is very deep explanation about Ethernet here on Wikipedia.

However, For this setup, its enough to recognize them, plug the cable into the two ports and connect the two systems, thats it, no more fuss than that.

What Can Go Wrong?
Your cable can be damaged, and thus not sending any signal or do it badly. Or the connection itself can be filthy. Dust it off, don’t use any liquids since electricity and water don’t mix. Also, as noted above, your system can be too old to have an ethernet port, but the chances of this actually happening are very slim. Ethernetless systems are basically ancient,  Stone age neantherthal ancient.

You’ll need your laptops IP address, or its DNS address. However for simplicity’s sake, its better to use just the IP address, as it looks more stable to me, and its easy enough to find. Your IP address is somewhat hidden away. One way to find your IP address is to start use RUN application, every Windows version has it by default, no need to install any additional stuff.

Trouble is that vista has hidden RUN away from your apps list. To find it, Type “run” in the search space, and start the app once you have found it

Using Run to Get Your IP Address
Run is a very Spartan looking white on black text application, no icons to be found. The thing is no fun to use, but we only need to type two simple commands:
First type; CMD  and push return, then
type; IPCONFIG and hit return again.

And behold, all the data you need pours in. More than you need, really. Just look out for IP address, and make a note of it. No, you cannot simply cut and paste it. That’s not possible here, RUN is too simple for this.

Your Windows computer still needs a second element: that is a map that you set up to share. I put my share maps on my desktop, for simplicity sakes. A share map is an ordinary map, that you set to share via properties, simple.

Here is the process of setting up a shared map:

  1. Right-click on your soon to be shared map, go to PROPERTIES, and left-click
  2. Go to the sharing tab, left-click
  3. there are two buttons there, Share & Advanced Sharing
  4. in Share, choose your user profile, often your name which your computer asked for when booted for the first time.

If I try to make a connection with these settings, I get a -6602 error, its not complete yet,  One last step; go to advanced settings. There is the function ‘Share this folder”. Enable it by clicking into the tiny square next to it (upper left), now click. Done, at least the on your Windows computer.

There’s more on mapping Windows drives in the Dig Deeper section at the end of this article.

Now We Go Back To Our Mac
Go to Finder (a blue square face), right-click on it so that you can see your multiple options and select “connect to server”. Now, you need to type the protocol you use, the IP address of your laptop, and the folder you want to look into. Easy because we have all this information already:

Use the protocol, smb://
your IP address looks like 109.204.102.102  (this is mine, you will use yours of course)
Share, this is the folder you need to look into. It does not seem to matter if you use capital letters or not. If your Share map happens to be called share, then type share, if its called something more exotic, like “Explore” or “Bowel Implosion”, then you will type “Explore” or “Bowel Implosion” into the address, you get the idea.

The full address might look like this  smb://109.204.102.102/share or smb://109.204.102.102/Bowel Implosion, depending on your particular choice of naming of your share folder & IP address (which you cannot choose).

Push the connect button…
Now, if all goes well, you wait, half a second or sometimes a full second, and suddenly your shared folder pops up. You’re done!

This is a very simple, one way kind of connection, from PC to MAC, not the other way around, you cannot put any new things in your shared map on the mac side. You can do it only on the PC side. Now, if you put something new in your shared map, on the PC side of course, then it won’t suddenly appear on your Finder window. Update your Finder by clicking it with your cursor, or close and connect with your laptop again.

Again, this is just one way to connect PCs to Macs. Do you have any improvements or tips? Share them with us in the Comments section below.