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Monday, May 21, 2007

Adding MAC into Windows Networking

One scenario you may encounter in a home network is the need to connect a Macintosh computer to a non-Apple-based network. If you're running OS X on your Mac, it can join your network easily, with no add-ons or extra software required.

Getting on a Windows network

To connect to your Windows PCs or file servers, simply go the OS X Finder and then select Go --> Connect to Server (Command-K). In the dialog box that appears, you can type the IP address or host name of the server you're connecting to and then click the Connect button. Alternatively, click the Browse button in the dialog box to search your local network for available servers and shares.

For earlier versions of Mac operating systems, you need to buy software to allow you to include your Mac. You can buy software for the PCs or software for the Macintosh. (You don't need it for both.) Check with magazines and books that are devoted to Macintosh users to find out about software for incorporating your older Macintosh into your network. Two of those programs are described next.

Mac, meet Dave

For the Macintosh, buy Dave. Yep, that's the name of the software. It's from Thursby software, which you can reach at

This software uses TCP/IP on the Mac, so your PCs can recognize and interact with the Mac. In effect, it makes the Macintosh look like a PC to the other PCs that are on the network. Macintosh purists (sometimes regarded as a cultlike group) may not love that description. It even lets the Mac user log on to the network the way PC users do.

You must be using a Mac with a 68030 or higher processor, and you must have at least 16 MB of RAM. The software supports Mac OS 8.6 and higher. You can download a free trial, which is a limited version of the software, before deciding to purchase it.

The company also has a product called MacSOHO that has fewer features but does support file sharing between Macs and PCs. You may want to investigate it.

From a PC LAN to a PC MACLAN

Miramar Systems, at, offers a product called PC MACLAN, which is installed on PCs that need to interact with Macintosh computers (the software adds the AppleTalk protocol to the PC).

PC MACLAN comes in two versions: one for Windows 95/98/Me and another for Windows NT/2000/XP.

Troubleshooting tips for password issues on a wireless connection

If you have trouble getting your Macintosh up and running on your Windows-based wireless network, it almost certainly relates to the network password. Here are a few troubleshooting tips to resolve password issues:

  • Try turning off encryption on the wireless network. If you can successfully connect your Mac to the network without the need of a password, you can be sure that the password was the problem. Don't leave the network unprotected, however. Read on.
  • Check the password configuration. When you turn on the access point's encryption, determine whether the password is an alphanumeric value or a hexadecimal number. Some hardware vendors provide configuration software that has you enter a pass phrase, but the software then generates a hexadecimal number. If you're using AirPort networking software on your Mac, you have to enter the hexadecimal number, not the pass phrase.
  • Watch for case-sensitivity. If the Windows-based access point configuration software enables you to enter an alphanumeric password, keep in mind that the password is case sensitive. For WEP, the password should be either exactly 5 characters (letters and numbers) for 64-bit encryption or 13 characters for 128-bit encryption. You should then enter exactly the same characters in the Password text box in the AirPort pane of Internet Connect.
  • Use current software. Make sure that you're using the most current version of AirPort software. The most up-to-date software makes it easier to enter passwords connecting to a Windows-based wireless network. The new software automatically distinguishes between alphanumeric and hexadecimal passwords. With earlier versions of the software, to connect to a WEP-encrypted Windows-based network, you have to type quotation marks around alphanumeric values and type a $ in front of hexadecimal numbers.

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