Sharing files between Mac & PC with Virtual PC



One of the most annyoing things about PCs is certainly that you can't share files with a Mac over a LAN.
At least not without buying extra software like Dave or PCMacLan. Now in fact there is a fairly easy third method. Given you have a copy of Virtual PC with Windows 95 of later, sharing files with a PC is really easy.

What you'll need to have

What you need depends a bit on what you have, the following list is for sharing between one Mac and oone PC.

  • One Mac with an Ethernet port and an installed copy of Virtual PC (Real PC should work too) running Windows 95 or later.
  • One PC with an Ethernet card running Windows 95 or later.
  • Either a crossover twisted pair cable, or two cables and a hub to connect them.
  • A basic understanding of Windows 9x.

What you have to do

Don't worry, it's really fairly simple. Let's first look at the PC, as this is probably the less complicated part to explain. Your PC has to have a working and installed Ethernet card. This may sound easy and straight forward, but hell no, it isn't. However, I'll just hope you already have that solved. If you have Windows 98, Ethernet card recognition is actually fairly good. You have to install the Microsoft Network services, in case they aren't already installed. You can do this in the Network control panel, check the services and add the new service in case it's not on the list. You'll need a Windows CD for that.

Now let's look at the Mac. Again your Mac needs a working Ethernet port, but that really isn't hard. Then start up your copy of Virtual PC and make sure that Ethernet is enabled in the preferences. Maybe you have to restart VPC to enable it first. Then once this is done, proceed to installing the Microsoft Network services on VPC. This is done in exactly the same way as on the PC.
Once you have set this up, you can create a new directory on your harddrive image and make it shared. This usually requires you to pull down the context menu on the item and select the appropriate point of the menu.

Of course you can share as many items as you want, but only one folder is really required.

Then you'll have to connect both computers via Ethernet (well, actually you better do that first) and have the PC look for the Virtual PC. It may be handy to know the name and workgroup of your Virtual PC (can also be checked in the control panels). Sometimes Windows doesn't find sharing computers (it actually almost never does), so you'll have to serach for it in the Search menu under search Computer. Once both "PCs" are aware of each other, you an share files between those items you made "sharing".

Now for the Mac filesharing: as you may have guessed, we won't have the Mac share files with the PC, but we'll simply let the PCs do that. Since you can drag&drop between VPC and Mac OS, this is really handy.
Even better: You can have a shared folder (with Mac OS) in VPC and make that one sharing in the PC network as well. Depending on how whisely you choose your directories, this can actually open up all the files you have on your Mac to use on the PC.

I'm aware this is only a rather rough description of what you have to do to get it working, but I won't be going into details of Windows. If you're unlucky enough to have to use a PC, then you were most certainly also taught to do the most important stuff. In case you have any questions concerning this article, e-mail to or ask a PC using friend to do it for you. For questions concerning VPC, consult your manual.

Happy filesharing!

Text: © by G-News, Dec. 2000, all trademarks are property of their respective owners.