With Windows 7, you can easily share files and printers across a network via the HomeGroups feature. Here's how to set up your network to share files and printers with Macs.
Set Up Windows 7 to Share a Printer
Windows can share a printer with other PCs on your network, so anyone in your network can connect as long as your printer and PCs are on. Here's how to set up this sharing in Windows 7.
Open Devices and Printers from the Start Menu, and double-click your printer. Pick Customize your printer, and click the Sharing tab in the following window. Select the Share this printer checkbox.
Unless you're connecting a bunch of similar PCs, I recommend skipping the option to download additional printer drivers on the host system. Just take a moment to configure everything once on each client. With different combinations of 32- and 64-bit Vista, Windows 7, and XP PCs, it's more hassle than it's worth to try to plan ahead here. Approve the options and close the Properties window.
Set Up Windows 7 to Share and Connect to Files
Windows 7 lets you share files through a combination of its public folders and manual selection. If you want to share files with everyone on your network, just move them to the public location within any of the Libraries in the left pane of a window.
You can also share files or folders wherever they reside. Select an item to share, and pick the Share with menu at the top of the window. Pick Homegroup (Read) to let people on your home network open, but not modify files. Pick Homegroup (Read/Write) to let people open and edit files.
Pick Specific people if you want to restrict access to certain user accounts. If you hadn't earlier, you'll need to create a new login and password for people who can access these files. Go to the User Accounts and Family Safety Control Panel, then pick Add or remove user accounts. Click Manage another account, and pick Create a new account.
Follow the prompts to create a Standard user, pick the account, and click Create a password. Now if you pick Share with: Specific people, click the drop-down arrow, and add the new account to the list.
Next, try connecting to files. If you're on the same HomeGroup as another Windows 7 PC, just open a new window, and look in the Homegroup area on the left. Pick the PC, and browse the shared libraries inside. (Learn more about setting up a HomeGroup here.)
If the other PC isn't connected through a Windows 7 HomeGroup, you can browse through the Network tab a little lower on the left pane to find it.
Share Files Between Mac OS X and Windows 7
An OS X Mac can share or retrieve files with Windows 7, although it takes a couple of extra steps. Here's how to share from OS X. Open the Network System Preference, click your network connection on the left pane, and press Advanced.
Click the WINS tab, type your Windows 7 PC's workgroup name, and click OK. Click Apply.
On the Windows 7 system, if your Mac doesn't appear in the Network area, type the Mac's computer name into your Windows file browser.
For example, my shared Mac is named "Felix," so I typed \\Felix. Enter your username and password to connect to the files. You can browse shared Windows 7 files in OS X, too.
On the Mac, go to the Finder, choose Go: Connect to Server, and enter the remote PC's SMB file path. For example, my Windows 7 PC is named "SLOTH," so I entered smb://SLOTH.
Enter your login name and password to finish the connection. Your multi-OS network should now be all set.
Share a Windows 7 Printer
With Mac OS X Mac OS X can reach a shared Windows 7 printer just as a PC can. Thanks to some new networking architecture in Windows 7, I had problems connecting a Mac with OS X 10.6.2 using the default SMB protocol, but here's how to use the LPD (Line Printer Daemon) standard to share a printer.
On the Windows 7 PC, go to the Programs control panel, and pick Turn Windows features on or off. Double-click Print and Document Services, and activate LPD Print Service. Click OK.
On the OS X Mac, open the Print & Fax System Preference. Click the plus icon to add a new printer. Right-click the toolbar, and pick Customize Toolbar.
Then drag the Advanced button up into the toolbar and click Done. Click Advanced, and pick LDB/LPR Host or Printer as the Type.
Enter the path with your PC name and printer name. My Windows 7 PC is called "SLOTH," and the printer is "EPSON_R1800", so my path is lpd://SLOTH/EPSON_R1800.
Click Select Printer Software in the Print Choosing pop-up menu, and select your printer in the list. Click OK and Add.
Share a Mac Printer From Windows 7
Windows 7 can also connect to a Mac OS X printer over the network. On the Mac, open the Sharing System Preference, and pick Printer Sharing.
Select your printer. On the Windows 7 PC, pick Start, Devices and Printers, and click Add a printer. Click The printer that I want isn't listed.
Enter the pathname back to your Mac and printer. In my case, my Mac is named "Felix," and the printer is an Epson Stylus Photo R1800. So I entered \\Felix\Epson Stylus Photo R1800 and clicked Next.
Follow the prompts to finish the installation; this should be just like installing a network printer connected to a Windows system.