How to Share Files Between Windows and macOS


How do I transfer files between Windows and macOS?


There are multiple 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 eligible 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.
      • Click Network and Sharing Center
      • Click Homegroup and Sharing options.
      • Select Advanced Sharing Settings.
      • Navigate to File and Printer Sharing.
      • Click Turn on File and Printer Sharing.
      • Save changes.
    • Windows 8:
      • Go to Control Panel.
      • Click Network and Internet.
      • Click Network and Sharing Center.
      • Select Advanced Sharing Settings.
      • Navigate to File and Printer Sharing.
      • 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.
      • Navigate to File and Printer Sharing.
      • 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. 
      • In the left pane, select Network.
        • Often, you will find it under Favorites or Recent.
        • 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):
      • Open up a Finder window.
      • Click Go > Connect to Server.
        • The 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

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 Sharing.
    • Ensure File Sharing is checked.
    • Click Options.
    • Ensure Share files and folders using SMB (Windows) is checked.
  2. 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 file system 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. 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 file system, you must have all existing data backed up to one of your computers, as it will be lost when the file system is changed.
      • For Windows:
        • Search for My PC.
        • Right-click the device of which you'd like to change the file system format.
        • Click Format on the context menu.
        • Use the file system drop-down menu to pick your preferred format (ex. exFAT).
        • Click Format on the bottom of the screen.
        • Confirm 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
        • 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 file system format (ex. exFAT).
          • The other settings shouldn't be important.
        • Confirm that the data on the USB will be deleted.
        • Exit Disk Utility.
  2. Once you've verified that you have a file system 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.
          • 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, go to the Office 365 portal.
    • Log in with your full UO email address and password.
  2. Click on OneDrive.
  3. Click Upload.
  4. Choose File or Folder, depending on which you plan to upload.
    • In the small selection window that appears, you can select a range of files by holding the shift key on Mac, or the command key/control key on Windows.
  5. In the upper-right corner of OneDrive, you will see Uploading item(s) while your files are being updated.
    • When this goes away, your files should be uploaded.
  6. Check your OneDrive's contents to ensure the upload was successful.
  7. To download the files on your recipient device:
    1. Repeat steps 1 and 2 above.
    2. Select the check marks on the files you wish to download.
  8. Choose Download.
  9. Save the files to the appropriate location on your device.


Article ID: 33750
Thu 7/20/17 12:06 PM
Wed 8/3/22 12:23 PM