{ 5 Intelligent Comments }

HOWTO: Access Windows files from an Apple MAC over the Network (Part 1)

Share Files From Windows To MacDescription

This HOWTO explains the steps involved in setting up both your Windows PC and your Mac to allow you to access a shared folder on your Windows PC from your Mac.


One of the big challenges user’s experience when in a mixed Mac & PC environment is the task of sharing files over a network.


This tutorial is targeted at users who want to access files that are stored on a Windows PC that is on the same network or LAN as the Mac.

Although the instructions assume that Windows XP is being used on the PC, it can easily be adopted for Windows Vista or Windows 7.


This is Part 1 of 3. If you’re looking for Part 2 or 3 they’re linked below.



This HOWTO explains how to access your Windows files from an Apple Mac. If you are looking for the opposite, ie. you’re trying to access your Apple Mac from your Windows PC then try this article: HOWTO: Share your Mac OS files with Windows over the Network Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3



  • When attempting to connect to a Windows PC from Mac OSX using ‘Go > Connect to Server‘ it says ‘Connecting to….‘ for anything up to a minute before showing the error:

Connection Failed The server may not exist or it is not operational at this time. Check the server name or IP address and your network connection and try again.

  • When attempting to connect to a Windows PC from Mac OSX using ‘Go > Connect to Server‘ you are asked to enter a user name and password but cannot successfully log in.



It can be a bit tricky setting up both Mac & PC to talk harmoniously. Following these steps you should be able to achieve the following:


  • Setup Windows ‘File and Print Sharing’ service over your network on your Windows PC
  • Connect to the Windows PC using the Mac OS X Finder > Go > Connect to Server method which will allow you to read and write to files located on your Windows PC
  • Create a shortcut to the Windows share in your Mac sidebar




  • You are using Microsoft Windows XP on the PC
  • You are using Apple Mac OSX v10.5 (Leopard) on the Mac
  • The Mac & the PC are connected to the same network (LAN)


Whilst this tutorial is based on the assumptions above the principal is the same for other versions and so should work with different versions of both Windows and Mac OS. If you’re stuck, leave a comment below.


Step 1 – Verify Basic Network Connectivity between PC & Mac


On the PC:

  1. Click Start > Run
  2. Type cmd > Click OK
  3. At the command prompt type the following and press ENTER:
  4. ipconfig

  5. You should now see something similar to below. Take a note of your IP Address.

For the rest of this HOWTO when I mention, you must replace it with your own IP Address. If you’re stuck, leave a comment below.

On the MAC:

  1. Click your Spotlight (top right corner) and type Terminal and hit Enter to open Terminal. It should be the Top Hit. If not, locate it in your Applications
  2. Type ping and hit Enter (replace with your own IP Address of your Windows PC)
  3. You should see lots of lines going down the terminal window beginning with “64 bytes from…
  4. If you see a successful reply then good. You have the basic connectivity required. Now go to Part 2 of this guide
  5. If you see any other message then you have connectivity problems. Go through the following checklist:
  • Subnet: The Subnet Mask must be the same on both Mac & PC
    • In the screenshot above, the Subnet Mask is Open your Network settings on your Mac by clicking Apple > System Preferences > Network > Advanced…
    • As you can see in the screenshot below, the Subnet Mask on my Mac is also

  • Firewall: Your Windows Firewall could be blocking your pings. A quick and easy way to test this is to temporarily disable the firewall
    • For Windows built in firewall you do this through Control Panel > Windows Firewall > Off
    • For 3rd party firewalls like Symantec, Kaspersky, McAfee, etc you usually right click the little icon down in the Systray near the clock and choose Disable or something to that effect.


Be sure to re-enable your firewall afterwards!

If your firewall is blocking access then you will need to add the Mac’s IP Address as Trusted. That’s another topic that is too big to document here just now. Please post a comment below if you’re really stuck and I’ll try to help you one-to-one.

When you’ve successfully pinged your Windows PC from your Mac then proceed to Part 2.


Wow, 5 Comments! We've got a conversation going now. Join the discussion below!

  1. dorian says:

    I tried pinging my xp computer no success

  2. Rosco says:

    Hi, You’ll need to verify basic network connectivity if you can’t ping your XP machine. Have you checked the items in step 5 of this article?

  3. Joe says:

    Still can’t ping I’ve dissabled all my firewalls and everything… Help?

Leave a Reply