How to Use your Macbook in a Windows-only Workplace
You use a Macbook at home and would prefer to use the same Mac laptop at work but the corporate IT department will only support computers that are running the Windows OS. How do you get your Macbook to play nicely with the Windows-only workplace?
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 Exchange server email and access other resources in all all-Windows network right from the Mac. Here’s a complete guide:
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 on your Mac, click on Sharing and check File Sharing.
To share a folder on the network for others to see, click on the + icon below the Shared folders section, choose the Mac folder you want to share and change the permissions suitably for Everyone (the default is Read Only). Click on Options and select Share files with SMB.
Other users on the Windows network can now access your Mac shared folders as usual by clicking your computer in their Network neighborhood on their Windows computers.
To access a network shared drive (or a folder) at your workplace, 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 Finder sidebar.
If your Mac is running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later, you can use the included Mail program to connect to your corporate email account automatically using an Exchange account.
Open the Mail app and go to Preferences -> accounts. Click + icon to add a new account and select Exchange from the list of account types. Next enter your name, email address and password, then click Continue and fill in the details of your Exchange server like the Server Address, etc. Your mail account should now be configured.
The other option is to use Microsoft Outlook on your Mac which you can get through Microsoft Office 2016 or a Microsoft Office 365 subscription.
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 the Proxy Server. 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 are all you need. Fill in the details of the proxy server and username and password if necessary. You might have to write the the proxy 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 on your Mac at office.
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 Printers and Scanners. Click the + icon to add a new printer.
Click on the IP tab and under Address, enter 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 by selecting the Protocol dropdown. Click Add. You can repeat these steps to add other printers in the Windows network to print from 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 more 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 on a Mac from System Preferences -> Accounts and then enable Fast User switching.
Written by Narasimha Shastri, social entrepreneur and co-founder of Praja.in, a citizen collaboration platform for civic issues.
Google Developer Expert, Google Cloud Champion
Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India.