How to Share Files Between Windows and macOS


How do I transfer files between Windows and macOS?


There are mulitple ways to accomplish this task. The first option detailed in this article involves sending files over a network; once the machines are connected, you can use either the Mac or the PC as the host. Other options include using a USB storage device (USB flash drive or hard drive), and using Microsoft OneDrive. Most affiliations at the University are aligible for 1 TB of storage space at this service hosted by Microsoft.

Via network using Windows as the host

  1.  File sharing first needs to be enabled on the Windows machine. This process is different depending on the version of Windows.
    • Windows 7:
      • Go to Control Panel
      • Choose Network and Sharing Center
      • Choose Homegroup and Sharing options
      • Change Advanced Sharing Settings
      • Under the File and Printer Sharing section click "Turn on File and Printer Sharing"
      • Save Changes
    • Windows 8:
      • Go to Control Pane l
      • Choose Network and Internet
      • Choose Network and Sharing Center
      • Change Advanced Sharing Settings
      • Under the File and Printer Sharing section click "Turn on File and Printer Sharing"
      • Save Changes
    • Windows 10:
      • Go to Settings
      • Choose Network and Internet
      • Choose Network and Sharing Center
      • Select "Change advanced sharing settings" 
      • Under the File and Printer Sharing section click "Turn on File and Printer Sharing"
      • Save Changes
  2. Next, we need to connect to the Windows machine from the Mac. You can do this in one of two ways:
    • Option 1:
      • Open up a finder window, and on the left pane select "Network" under the "Favorites" or "Recent" heading
        • If Network is not shown, click "Go" in the Menu Bar in the top left of your screen, and select "Network" from there.
      • Find the name of the windows machine you wish to share with
      • Click on the machine to bring up a folder view where you can drag and drop files to/from the shared folder
    • Option 2 (more advanced):
      • Select finder
      • Click Go > Connect to Server (Shortcut for this is Command+K)
      • Type in the prefix smb:// followed by the ip address or hostname of the windows machine. For example: smb:// or smb://MyPC
        • If you need to connect via IP address, (on the PC) simply click the wifi connection icon in the lower-left of the screen and click "Properties" next to the network you're connected to

Via network using macOS as the host

  1. File sharing first needs to be enabled on the Mac machine.
    • Go to System Preferences
    • Click on the Sharing category
    • Click the check box next to "File Sharing"
    • Click the options button
    • Check the box next to "Share files and folders using SMB (Windows)"
  2. Important: Make a note of the address (IP or Hostname) of the Mac. It will be listed at the top of the sharing window
  3. Next, we need to connect to the Mac machine from Windows.
    • Go to Start
    • Use the Quick Search bar to type in \\ followed by the address of the Mac. For example: \\ or \\MyMac

Using an external hard drive or USB flash drive

  1. When sharing files across different operating systems, it is important to make sure the media (transfer device) is of a file format supported by both platforms.
    • Common filesystem formats are NTFS, HFS, APFS, exFAT, and FAT32
      • NTFS has universal support on Windows. Macs are able to read this format, but cannot write files
      • HFS and APFS have universal support on newer Mac operating systems, but Windows cannot access this format at any capacity
      • exFAT and FAT32 are supported by both platforms, so this is recommended. FAT32 cannot support file sizes above 2 GB, so exFAT is preferred
    • To format a device to a different filesystem, you must have all existing data backed-up to one of your computers, as it will be lost when the filesystem is changed
      • For Windows:
      • Search for My PC from your start menu
      • Right-click the device of which you'd like to change the filesystem format
      • Click format on the context menu
      • Use the filesystem drop-down menu to pick your preferred format (exFAT)
      • Proceed with the format by clicking Format on the bottom of the screen and confirming you're aware existing USB device data will be lost
      • For Mac:
      • Click the magnifying glass in the upper-right corner of the screen
      • Search for and open
      • In the left column, look for your USB drive beneath "External" and click it once to highlight it
        • You may see a "partition" under the drive, but you can ignore this
      • Click "Erase" in Disk Utility and select the preferred filesystem format (exFAT)
        • The other settings shouldn't be important
      • After confirming that the data on the USB will be deleted, you may exit disk utility
  2. Once you've verified that you have a filesystem format that is suitable for the transfer, simply transfer the files via the USB drive.
    • Please be sure to safely eject/safely remove the drive before unplugging it
      • For Windows:
      • Right-click the icon of a USB drive in the system tray (lower-right corner)
        • You may need to click the up-arrow to see it
      • Click "Eject <your USB's name>"
      • For Mac:
      • Drag the USB's icon to the Trash
        • The Trash icon will change to the ejection symbol

Using Microsoft OneDrive

  1. On the computer initializing the transfer, simply navigate to
    • log in with your full UO email address and password
  2. Find the blue cloud logo near the top of the page labelled "OneDrive"
  3. Click "Upload" near the top of the page and choose the File or Folder option depending on which you plan to upload
    • In the small selection window that appears, you can select multiple files by holding the shift key (for a range), and the command key or control key for Mac and Windows, respectively
  4. In the upper-right corner of OneDrive, you will see "Uploading x item" while your files are being updated
    • When this goes away, your files should be uploaded, but be sure to check your OneDrive's contents to be sure
  5. To download the files on your recipient device, repeat steps 1 and 2 above, then use the checkmarks to the left of the files you want to download to select them
  6. On the top of the page, simply choose "Download" and save them to the appropriate location on your device


Article ID: 33750
Thu 7/20/17 12:06 PM
Tue 4/6/21 10:17 AM