Get Leopard and Windows to play nice

Mac OS X and Windows machines don't get along, right? Wrong. Try our tips for cross-platform happiness on your network.

Configuring a Mac to participate in a Windows network, step 2: In the Advanced Network Options dialog, click the WINS tab and fill in the NetBIOS name and the workgroup name. If a WINS server is used on the network, fill in the address.

Configuring a Mac to participate in a Windows network, step 2: In the Advanced Network Options dialog, click the WINS tab and fill in the NetBIOS name and the workgroup name. If a WINS server is used on the network, fill in the address.

For a Mac to participate in a Windows network, it must also have a unique NetBIOS name and be assigned to the same workgroup as the PCs with which it will interact. If a WINS server is used on a network, a Mac (like a PC) will need to know the address of that server.

In Windows, most of this information can be adjusted by choosing Control Panel --> System (or by right-clicking on My Computer in Windows XP or Computer in Vista and selecting Properties) to display the System Properties. The Computer Name tab (or section in Vista) allows you to view a PC's current NetBIOS name and workgroup. You can change the name and workgroup using the Change button (or the Change Settings link in Vista).

If a WINS server is used in a larger environment, the settings are generally configured by a network administrator and automatically provided to PCs or else manually designated in the Properties dialog on individual PCs by the IT staff.

In Leopard, all these options are located together and can be accessed via the Network pane in System Preferences. You set these options by selecting an active network interface (such as Ethernet or AirPort) in the list of available interfaces and clicking the Advanced button.

In the Advanced Network Options dialog, select the WINS tab and enter the appropriate information. You should observe the same naming conventions used by Windows PCs. As with many versions of Windows, Leopard will default to the name Workgroup for its workgroup if no other name has been specified.

Configuring these options appropriately on all your connected machines should help ensure that your Mac(s) and Windows PC(s) can communicate properly over the network.

Sharing files

Mac OS X Leopard supports a number of different protocols for accessing shared files. The primary or native protocol for Mac file sharing is Apple Filing Protocol (AFP). This protocol has been developed and refined by Apple over many years.

Like SMB, HTTP and other common protocols, it is built on the same TCP/IP protocol suite that powers the Internet. Although some third-party software allows Windows computers to communicate using AFP, it is generally considered a Mac-specific protocol.

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