You want to use your Macbook at work but the corporate IT department will only support computers that are running the Windows OS.

Well, there’s nothing to worry here as you can take your Mac to office or in team meetings without requiring support from the support staff. You can easily access network drives, connect to shared printers, check your Exchnage server email and access other resources in all all-Windows network right from the Mac. Here’s a complete guide:

Sharing files and folders

Macs can work seamlessly in a windows network. However, you might need to enable sharing explicitly for this to work. To enable sharing, go to System Preferences and click on Sharing. Then click on ‘File Sharing‘ and close.

To share a folder on the network for others to see, click on the + icon below the Shared folders section. Choose the folder you want to share and change the permissions suitably for Everyone. Click on Options and select Share files with SMB.

Other users on the Windows network can now access your shared folders as usual by clicking your computer in their Network neighborhood on their Windows computers.

Access Network Drives from a Mac

To access a network shared drive (or a folder), open Finder and from the menu bar, select Go followed by Connect to server. In the popup window type:

smb://servername/folder_name (e.g. smb://fileserver01/finance )

In some cases, you might have to use the IP address of the Windows server (e.g. smb://192.168.10.10/finance) or you can even see the server by clicking the Browse button.

Click on the + icon to save a bookmark and press Connect. Repeat this for other network drives. You should now be able to see all the network drives in your sidebar on Finder.

Email on Microsoft Exchange Server

The upcoming Snow Leopard OS will include built in support for Exchange server so you can very easily configure Mail, iCal, and Address Book to access your Exchange account. Until that happens (or if you have no plans of upgrading), you can still use the built-in Mail application with limited abilities to access your corporate email.

Open Mail app and go to Preferences -> accounts. Click + icon to add a new account. Unselect automatically setup account. Click on Continue. In the next window, select Exchange under Account Type and fill in details of exchange server.

Your mail account should now be configured.

The other option is to use Outlook itself through Crossover but you might need to pay for the software in that case.

Accessing Internet on your Mac

If your organization does not use proxy servers, you should be able to access internet by simply plugging the Ethernet cable in your office to the Mac. If you have Wi-Fi around, the available wireless networks will automatically show up on your computer – select the network you want to join, enter a password, and you’re connected.

However, if are required to use proxies for web access, you will have to configure them on your Mac as well.

You will need to contact your system administrator for obtaining the details of Proxy. It can be just a server name or a script. Or you can can look up the proxy settings yourself from the Windows PC by looking at the ‘Connection’ details under Internet Explorer->Tools->Internet Options.

Once you have the details of the proxy server, go to System Preferences on your Mac and select Network. Depending on the way you connect to the network, usually Ethernet, select Ethernet option from the Network window. Click on Advanced and select Proxies tab.

Select the proxy services you want to use (usually Web Proxy (HTTP) and FTP Proxy) . Fill in the details of the proxy server and username and password if necessary. You might need to provide the username in domain/user format.

If you are configuring the proxy with a script, you can select Using a PAC file instead of Manually.

Enter the URL of the script or browse the file yourself by clicking Choose file. While entering URL use the format smb://servername/script.pac. You should now be able to access internet.

Adding Printers

The process of adding a network printer to your Mac is very similar to that of adding a network drive. Go to System Preferences and select Print and Fax. Click on + icon to add a printer.

Click on IP tab and under Address type the name of the print server and printer name in the format printserver/printer. You might need to use the IP address of the print server.

Mac OS X will try to detect the printer type automatically but you can also specify the printer type manually. Click Add. You can repeat these steps to add other printers in the Windows network.

Your Bookmarks on Mac

Once you have the Mac up and running in your office, you can import your Intranet and other bookmarks from Internet Explorer or Firefox on your “official” Windows PC to Safari or Firefox in Mac. Just choose the appropriate export option from the web browser to save your bookmarks to you file, copy that your Mac and then import it in your Mac’s web browser.

If want to continue using your Windows PC along with the Mac, you should go for some web based service that can automatically sync your bookmarks across any platform. Google Chrome is a good choice as it works flawlessly across platforms.

One last thing: If possible, always create a separate user account on your Mac for work apart from your personal account. This will help you to keep the files separate and avoid accidental sharing of your personal files over the office network.   You can add additional accounts from System Preferences -> Accounts and then enable Fast User switching.

Narasimha Shastri is a technology enthusiast and social entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of Praja.in, a citizen collaboration platform for civic issues.