How to Share Files Easily Between Mac and Windows

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How to Share Files Easily Between Mac and Windows
How to Share Files Easily Between Mac and Windows

Do you need to move files from a Mac to a Windows computer or vice versa? You have a few options, but utilizing the native tools of both operating systems, you can effortlessly move files from Mac to Windows or PC to Mac.

There are also a few third-party options worth investigating. We’ll go through how to move files from Mac to Windows and vice versa in the sections below.

How to Transfer Files From Mac to Windows PC

The most apparent method for transferring files from Mac to Windows is to utilize the built-in functionality provided by both operating systems.

However, there is one important disadvantage. Only if both the Mac and Windows PCs are on the same local network will the procedure function. If they are, go to the section on third-party solutions below.

Set Up File Sharing on a Mac

To exchange files between a Mac and a PC, you’ll need to adjust certain settings. To begin, you must authorize your Mac to share its files. To do this, follow these steps:

In the upper-left corner of the screen, click the Apple symbol. Select Sharing from the System Preferences menu. Then, on the left panel, tick the box next to File Sharing.

Click the Options button and, in the resulting window, tick the box next to Share files and folders using SMB. Apple removed the option to share volumes using AFP in macOS Big Sur. Although Catalina preserved this capability, APFS-formatted volumes could not be shared over AFP.

Enable the checkbox next to each user whose files you wish to share in the Windows File Sharing section below. Enter the passwords for the users and then click Done. When you share files with Windows machines, your Mac saves the users’ credentials in a less secure manner. We suggest that you uncheck the user checkboxes after you’ve finished.

You will now be returned to the Sharing window. Next, decide the files and users you want to share with your Windows machine. To change your options, click the Plus (+) and Minus (-) icons underneath Shared Folders.

Once you’ve shared a folder, go through the Shared Folders list and check the permissions and groups who should have access to the data.

Remember that all network access is governed by the machine that has access to the shared resources (in this example, your Mac); so, you must understand what Mac permissions have been applied to a folder. Finally, make a note of your Mac’s IP address. This will be seen underneath the File Sharing: On point.

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It’s now time to go to your Windows machine. To transfer files from Mac to Windows, follow the steps below:

Access Mac Files on Windows

Launch File Explorer. Type followed by your Mac’s IP address in the address bar at the top of the window. When you’re finished, it should appear like this: A new window will appear, requesting a login and password. Enter your Mac’s user credentials precisely as they appear.

Any folders and users you’ve added to your Mac’s Shared Folders and Shared Users lists will be seen in File Explorer. You may map that folder as a network drive and use it like any other Windows folder to move, modify, and copy files.

Mapping a network folder gives other programs the impression that the folder is part of your machine. Windows creates a drive for the mapped folder, which appears as a drive in File Explorer.

Map Network Drive

Select Map network drive from the context menu when you right-click the shared folder. From the Drive list, choose a drive. You may choose any letter that isn’t currently in use.

The Folder box holds all of the pre-filled data. Remember to choose Reconnect at sign-in if you want Windows to automatically connect to this shared folder at the start of each login session.

When you’re finished, drag files into one of your local directories to transfer files from your Mac to your Windows PC.

That wasn’t that difficult, was it? Let’s take a look at the opposite process: how to transfer files from Windows to Mac.

How to Transfer Files From PC to Mac

To begin, make sure that Network Discovery is enabled in Windows. Start your Windows PC and do the following steps:

Set Up File Sharing on Windows

Navigate to Network & Internet in the Settings app. Click Ethernet or Wi-Fi on the left side, and then Change the advanced sharing options found under Related settings.

Enable the checkboxes next to Turn on network discovery and Turn on file and printer sharing in the Private Network menu. Then, choose Save changes. To resolve network discovery difficulties in Windows 10, follow these instructions.

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On public networks, we do not suggest allowing network discovery or file sharing. They are usually far less secure than private networks.

To share folders on an individual basis, right-click the folder name and choose Properties > Sharing > Network File and Folder Sharing > Share. If you require or prefer complete control over sharing, you may also utilize advanced sharing options.

You should also write down the IP address of your Windows PC. Choose Command Prompt or Windows Powershell by pressing Win + X. Enter ipconfig and take note of the IPv4 address.

When you’re satisfied with your sharing choices, it’s time to move your files from your Windows PC to your Mac. To accomplish this on your Mac, follow the instructions below:

Access Windows Files on Mac

Launch the Finder app. Select Go > Connect to Server from the navigation bar at the top of the screen. Enter smb:/[IP address] or smb:/[computer name] into the address bar. You’ll be asked for your Windows account and password. Select Connect.

Your shared Windows material will be visible in the Finder’s Shared area. Simply drag and drop files from your PC to your Mac as required.

The techniques described above work well if both the Mac and the Windows PC are connected to the same network. If they aren’t, try these strategies and choose the ones that work best for you. Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive all offer dedicated programs for Windows and macOS. Simply install them on both systems and upload or download files as required. Keep an eye on how much space these programs use up, and if you’re running short on storage space, see our advice on how to sync just select files in Dropbox or Google Drive. A USB flash drive is a simple but efficient option for anybody who wants to swiftly transfer data from Mac to Windows. Remember to choose the exFAT file format since it is compatible with both operating systems and allows you to quickly transfer large files. Here are our picks for the best USB 3.0 flash drives on the market.

Other Ways to Share Files Between Mac and PC

File-syncing programs Resilio Sync and Syncthing allow you to exchange files across Windows and Mac. To manage the connection between devices, they employ an encrypted key. All you have to do is generate a key and a sync folder. Distribute the key to your other computer and designate a folder. Both programs enable you to configure read/write permissions.

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1. Use a Cloud Storage Service

We encounter several security problems when it comes to cloud storage. For many years, this author has used Resilio Sync. By configuring permissions, forcing LAN synchronization, and using Archive for file versioning, you can assure that data transfers take place across your network and save money.

2. Use a USB Stick

Hopefully, the numerous approaches we’ve mentioned will make it easier for you to transfer files between a Mac and a PC. Check out the simplest methods to transfer files between PCs and mobile devices if you also need to do this with your phone.

3. Share Files Without Using Cloud Storage

Resilio Sync and Syncthing are file-syncing apps that let you share files between Windows and Mac. They use an encrypted key to manage the connection between devices. All you have to do is set up a sync folder and create a key. Share the key with your other machine and nominate a folder. Both the apps allow you to set up the read/write permissions.

There are plenty of security challenges we face regarding cloud storage. This author has been using Resilio Sync for many years. If you set up permissions, configure sync to force LAN syncing, and use Archive for file versioning, you ensure that the data transfers happen through your network and save money.

Transfer Files Between Computer and Mobile

Hopefully, the various methods we’ve discussed will help you share files between a Mac and a PC with ease. If you also need to do this with your phone, check out the easiest ways to transfer files between computers and mobile devices.

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