How to Share Folders from Mac OS X with Windows 7 & Windows 8 PCs

Sharing folders from Mac OS X with Windows computers and devices, is a lot easier than it used to be. Thanks to OS X’s built-in support for the Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) Protocol, allowing read/write access to Windows computers can be done with just a few tweaks in System Preferences. After completing the steps in this tutorial, your Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers should be able to see your Mac on the local network. You’ll be able to setup multiple shared folders, each with different read/write access. Let’s see how it is done.

NOTE: Before you enable sharing, double check that your Mac is part of the same workgroup as your Windows computers and devices. This guide will help you out: How to Change the Workgroup in Mac OS X for Easy Networking. Also, if you want to know more about the protocol used to share items with Windows computers, read this Wikipedia entry: Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) Protocol.

Setting Up OS X to Share with Windows 7

Begin by opening up the Sharing pane in System Preferences. You can find it in the Internet & Wireless section.

In the Sharing pane, check the box next to File Sharing. If you also want to enable also DVD or CD sharing, check the box for this service too.

When File Sharing activated and selected, OS X shows the IP address for your Mac. You can see it highlighted in the screenshot below. Next, click Options.

In the Options pane, check the box next to "Share files and folders using SMB (Windows)" and "Share files and folders using AFP".

You’ll also want to select which user accounts will have sharing enabled. You will need to use these user accounts when connecting from Windows to your Mac’s shared folders. If sharing is not enabled for a user account you won’t be able to use its credentials to connect to the Mac’s shared folders from Windows.

Click Done and you are back to the Sharing pane.

NOTE: At this point, OS X might ask you to enter your password, in order to enable file sharing. Do so, if that happens.

Click the ’+’ button to add a Shared Folder.

The Finder is opened. Browse to the folder you’d like to share with Windows computers and devices and click Add.

Once you have a Shared Folder added, you can set the read/write permissions. Go to the Users section and, in the right column, select the permissions you want assigned to each of the listed user accounts. You can choose Read & Write, Read Only, Write Only or No Access.

NOTE: The easiest route is to simply allow read/write access to Everyone. However, this should be done only in trusted networks.

Using this procedure, you can add multiple folders, each with different read/write permissions. This is useful if you’d like to set up a Write Only drop box (where multiple users can turn in assignments or documents into a single folder but other users cannot read them) or a Read Only folder for reference, for example.

When you are done adding shared folders and setting up their permissions, close the Sharing pane and System Preferences.