DIY: Add a Mac to your Windows Network

If the Mac and the PC are the yin and yang of the tech universe, then these two seeming opposites should be able to coexist harmoniously.

Step 1: Getting started

Estimated time required: 2 hours.

We found feng shui by adding a Mac to our combination Ethernet/ Wi-Fi home network, which consisted of two desktops, a notebook, a network laser printer, and a personal inkjet. Our Power Mac G5 joined the party via an internal Apple wireless AirPort Extreme card. Computers on the network were running Windows 98, Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2, and Mac OS X 10.3.7.

Step 2: What you'll need
Before you even get started with this project, we recommend that you have the following:

  • A Mac desktop or laptop
  • An Airport Extreme wireless card
  • A wireless router

Mac systems
They may be a little pricey compared to their Windows counterparts, but Macs have been enchanting consumers with their high style, ease of use, and raw power for more than 20 years.


Apple Power Mac G5 (dual 2.7GHz)
Apple upgraded the Power Mac G5 with Mac OS 10.4 Tiger and faster parts, but our complaints about limited expandability still apply.

Read Apple Power Mac G5 review


Apple iMac G5 (2.0GHz, 20-inch)
Apple PowerBook G4 (17-inch, SuperDrive)

Wireless routers
The latest Wi-Fi access points provide a fast, easy, and affordable way to set up a home network.


Belkin Wireless Pre-N router
If you want to grace a large area with wireless coverage and you're concerned about range, Belkin's new MIMO-enabled router is a good alternative to a router/repeater solution.

Read Belkin Wireless Pre-N router review


Netgear WPN824 RangeMax
D-Link DI-624 AirPlus Xtreme G router

Step 3: Configure a Mac for PC networking

Before you begin, you'll need to change your Mac's workgroup name to match that of your existing workgroup.

  1. Go to Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities > Directory Access.
  2. Click the lock icon in the lower left corner.
  3. Enter your username and password, highlight the name of your router (in our case, SMC), and click the Configure button.
  4. Type in your workgroup name and click OK.

Our Mac will use its built-in wireless AirPort card to communicate with the network's SMC router.

Next, from the Apple menu, open the System Preferences option. In the Internet & Network row, double-click the Network icon. Click the Location box's drop-down arrow, select New Location, and give your Mac a network name.

If you're using a wired connection, select Built-in Ethernet in the Show box. For a wireless network, select AirPort, choose the name of your network, and enter a password, if required.

To give the Mac a distinctive name, reopen the Apple menu and select System Preferences. In the Internet & Network row, double-click the Sharing icon and enter a name. Then click the Services button to review the list of services. Highlight any one to view a brief description. If you're uncertain about which option to choose, check the four Sharing options and clear the others.

Step 4: Configure a PC for Mac networking

Once you complete Windows' Add Network Place wizard, an icon for your Mac should appear in the My Network Places window.
Now it's time to configure your Windows PCs to cooperate with your Mac on the network.

  1. Select My Network Places from the Windows XP Start menu.
  2. In the Network Tasks column, select "Add a network place." This opens the Add Network Place wizard.
  3. Click Next, select "Choose another network location," and click Next again.
  4. Open the drop-down menu and select \\\.username as the username, ("xxx" is your PC's ID and "username" is the name you've used on the Mac).
  5. Click Next, type a distinctive name, click Next again, and click Finish.
You should now see a network folder icon for the Mac in the My Network Places window. Repeat this procedure for each Windows XP system on your network.

Step 5: Test your Mac-and-PC network

On the Mac, when you double-click the icon for your workgroup, you should see an icon for each PC currently running.
To ensure your systems recognise one another, follow these steps on your Mac.

  1. Open the Mac's Go menu.
  2. Select the Network option and double-click the Network icon in the left frame of the Network window.
  3. You'll see a few icons in the right frame, one of which is the name of your workgroup. Double-click it, and you should see an icon for each PC currently running.

If one of the PCs on your network is running Windows 98, you'll either have to buy special software to enable it to find your Mac or upgrade it to Windows XP. If you decide on the former, we recommend Computer Associates' PC MacLan for Windows 95/98.

Step 6: Share a printer between PC and Mac
To allow the Mac to use a printer physically connected to a port on a networked PC, you'll need to configure both the Mac and the PC.

Configuring your PC to share a printer
Note: Chances are you've already done this if other PCs on your network have been using this printer.

  1. On the PC that has the printer connected, open the Control Panel.
  2. Double-click the Printers And Faxes applet and right-click the appropriate printer.
  3. Select the Sharing tab. Make sure the Share This Printer radio button is enabled.
  4. Choose a Share name and click Apply, then the OK button.

Configuring your Mac to share a printer
  1. Open the Mac's Apple menu and select System Preferences.
  2. In the Hardware row, double-click the Print & Fax icon. Click the Set Up Printers button, then double-click the Add icon.
  3. Choose Windows Printing in the first drop-down box. Choose Network Neighborhood in the second drop-down box.
  4. Double-click the name of your workgroup, then the name of the PC to which the printer is connected.
  5. Enter the username and password, or just click the OK button if neither is required.
  6. Highlight the name of the printer and select the appropriate settings via the Printer Model box at the bottom of the Printer List window.
  7. Cick the Add button.

If you have more than one printer on the network, highlight the new printer, click the Show Info button, and enter a distinctive name to distinguish this printer from the others.

Step 7: Configure a network printer

The Mac Printer List shows that the default printer is a DeskJet physically connected to one of the network PCs.
To give all computers access to a printer even when the host PC is off, you'll have to move that printer to the network. Depending on the printer, this may simply require buying the right cable, an external printer server, or a plug-in network card. (On some printers, however, networkability is not an option.)

On our test system, a network card in our LaserJet printer was connected via cable to our router. If you have a similar setup, you'll need to know the printer's IP address, which will be in the form, where "xxx" is a three-digit number.

Although each network computer usually gets its own address dynamically, the printer address may be static—that is, it doesn't change as your computers are powered on and off. This means an address conflict could occur if one of the computers on your network picks up the same IP address as your printer.

To avoid such grief, make sure the printer address is set to a number greater than the number of computers on your network. In other words, if four computers are 101 through 104, set the printer to 105 or greater. You may need to play a certain amount of button roulette at the printer panel to discover the current address and change it if necessary. Consult your printer manual—each printer does things a little bit differently.

Once you have the number down, here's how to configure your network printer.

  1. Open the Mac's Apple menu and select the System Preferences option.
  2. In the Hardware row, double-click Print & Fax.
  3. Click the Set Up Printers button and double-click Add.
  4. The entries in the two boxes at the top of the window will depend on your particular printer type. If in doubt, try IP Printing, and select Internet Printing Protocol as the Printer Type.
  5. Enter the printer address in the box with that name, and select the appropriate printer via the Printer Model box at the bottom of the window.

Step 8: Print a test page

On your Mac, open the Text Edit applet in the Applications folder to send a short test file to the printer.
Unlike your Windows machines, the Mac printer setup lacks a test-page-printing option, so you'll need to open a document elsewhere to ensure your network is running smoothly.

For a quick check, follow these steps.

  1. Double-click the Macintosh HD icon and open the Applications folder.
  2. Open the TextEdit applet and type a few test lines.
  3. Open the File menu, select Print, and make sure the right printer is listed.

If all goes well, your Mac and PCs should now be getting along just fine, bringing a touch of harmony to your Windows-driven world.

Add Your Comment 19

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Juan Benito posted a comment   

LOL, IT DID not work, I have a HP Thin-client connected to a HP laser-jet 1200, and that's my network printer, from other windows laptop no problem printing, from my new mac (that so simple) it really don't want to talk to a PC.
But thanks


Abbott posted a reply   

You do of course realise that this guide was written in 2005?


LukeGX posted a comment   

These instructions are terrible, the screen shots show steps that aren't even described in the text. Getting windows - mac sharing is much easier than the steps shown in here.


dlhmda posted a reply   

I would love to know how to do Mac sharing, would you tell me how to do that?
BTW, the above instructions worked for me but it's not as clean as I would like.
Also, some times the PC with XP and my Snow Leopard see each other and other times they don't and I don't know why!!!


hppscprobs posted a comment   

motto51 i have the same problem too... please please could you let me know if you've solved this and how cos it's driving me crazy! it's the only thing that i'm stuck on that won't let me complete my home network setup.


Harlequin posted a comment   

Same problem as everyone else. It's not clear what IP or location to type into the New Network Place menu. Major let-down!


psychoward posted a comment   

your page is inaccurate and doesnt work when networking a mac to pc. You need to learn how to explain things better. I was trying to connect a mac to pc. my pc wont locate the file in my network places. mac says that packets are being sent and recieved but dont know how to locate pc on a mac.


motto51 posted a comment   

I can't see my hp psc 2410 all-in-one on step 6 otherwise fantastic


johnduq posted a comment   

I cant see a second hard drive on my mac from my pc, what should I do so my pc can see my 2nd mac hard drive?


irene posted a comment   

You made my day! Thanks.

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