Sharing files between Windows and OS X used to be a headache. Now with Windows 10 and the newest versions of OS X, the process has become much easier.
A decade ago, it was a headache trying to get Windows and OS X to talk to each other. Our previous article showed you how to set up a network between OS X Snow Leopard and Windows 7. Since then, things have gotten easier, especially with Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan. There are many options available, which include file syncing and using external storage mediums. Setting up a peer-to-peer network is also an option. Let’s look at that.
Set up a Network Between OS X El Capitan and Windows 10
Before you begin, check to make sure both operating systems are updated. On OS X, head to the Apple menu > App Store > Updates to ensure it’s up-to-date.
Also, check to make sure your network adapters are functioning correctly. In Windows 10, press Windows key + X then click Device Manager. Expand Network Adapters; if there is no exclamation sign, then you are ready to go.
In OS X, launch System Preferences > Network and click your network connection.
Enable File Sharing and Network Discovery
Before you can browse each computer, you’ll need to enable the ability for both Windows 10 and OS X to see each other. In OS X, launch System Preferences > Sharing > check off File Sharing. Click Options, then check off your user account. If you are unable to do this, your iCloud account might be preventing it. See instructions further down in this article on how to troubleshoot this problem.
In Windows 10, click Start > File Explorer then click Network in the Navigation pane. Click Turn on Network Discovery and File Sharing.
Ethernet or Wireless
This article assumes you are using an Ethernet Connection which is the best way to enable things to work. All you need is a CAT5 cable to connect both computers. You can also use a basic network switch or router to connect both machines. Depending on the model of Mac you own, you might need to invest in an Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter; if there is no built-in Ethernet port. Most Windows computers come built-in with an Ethernet port; exceptions include Ultrabooks and a 2-in-1 device such as the Microsoft Surface.
After connecting both systems, launch the Finder or press Shift + Command + K to open the network folder. Your Windows 10 PC should automatically be mounted. Double click it.
On the next screen, click the Connect As button.
Enter your Microsoft Account and password, then click Connect.
Automatically, your Personal Folders and any other shared folders are mounted in the Finder.
You can proceed to browse and copy files.
Connect to OS X El Capitan from Windows 10
Click Start > File Explorer > Network. Double-click the Mac icon, and then log in.
If you cannot log in, your iCloud account on the Mac might be preventing you from doing so. If you use your iCloud credentials to log into your Mac, it is unfortunately not compatible with Windows File Sharing for security reasons. The workaround for this is to change your account password.
Open System Preferences > Users & Groups > Change Password, click Use Separate Password.
Enter a new password, confirm, restart your Mac and configure Windows File Sharing again. Launch System Preferences > Sharing > check off File Sharing > click Options, then check off the account you want to share files from.
Other Troubleshooting Steps
If you still don’t see the Mac, try connecting manually using the NETBIOS name. You can find this in the Network Preference on the Mac. Launch System Preferences > Network > Advanced > WINS tab.
From your Windows PC, press Windows key + R then type the machine name then click OK. Enter your credentials; you should be able to access your resources.
There are still some wrinkles in the network experience between OS X and Windows, but it has certainly gotten better – both from the setup and troubleshooting side. I hope Apple modifies the iCloud password policy in future versions of OS X. I could log into my Windows PC from the Mac using my Microsoft Account credentials, so I don’t see why it can’t be the same for OS X.
Be sure to check out our other articles about file sharing:
- Sync Microsoft Office Documents Among iPad, PC, and Mac
- Connect Windows 10 to Wired, Wireless, and P2P Networks
- How to Map a Network Drive using Windows 10
- How to Join a Windows 10 PC to a Domain
- How to Share Files, Storage, Printers, and Other Items in Windows 10