Parallels Sharing Files

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Here is how I'm accessing my USB external drives from within Parallels running XP Pro.

This technique would also work to access any part of your Mac disk, not just your home directory (which is what Windows File Sharing on the Mac ususally gives you). It will even allow you to access disk-image files (*.dmg) that are mounted on your Mac.

There may well be more efficient techniques than this, but this is working fine for me until Parallels supports USB connections.

This technique uses Windows File Sharing (WFS). If you don't already have WFS enabled on your Mac and Parallels->XP, then you need to set that up and get it working. Just Google Windows File Sharing and OS X or Mac, and there will be lots of info. on how to do that. Here is a brief description of setting up WFS between your Mac and Parallels->XP, but if it doesn't work, seek help elsewhere - I probably can't troubleshoot it for you:

On the Mac:[edit]

  • 1. In "System Preferences->Sharing" make sure 'Windows Sharing" is checked ON.
  • 2. Run "Applications/Utilities/Directory Access", make sure "SMB/CIFS' is checked ON.
  • 3. With "SMB/CIFS" selected, click the "Configure..." button, and make sure you type in a workgroup name for your Mac OS X and your Parallels->XP to belong to. Short names in all caps with no spaces will result in a workgroup with the widest compatibility among versions of Windows.

On the PC:[edit]

  • 1. Right-click on "My Computer", choose "Properties" from the pop-up menu to display the "System Properties" dialog.
  • 2. Click the "Computer Name" tab and make sure the name to the right of "Workgroup:" matches the workgroup name you chose in step 3 for the Mac above.
  • 3. If it doesn't, either go back and change the Mac's workgroup (doesn't require a reboot), or click the "Change..." button in Windows and type in a matching Workgroup (changing the workgroup in Windows will require a reboot of the VM).
  • 4. Make sure Windows File Sharing is enabled for Parallels->XP by opening the Control Panel->Network Connections.
  • 5. Right-click on the "Local Area Connection" in Parallels that uses your Mac's network connection (on my copy of Parallels, this connection is labeled "Realtek" followed by some more info.). Choose "Properties" from the popup menu to display the connection's properties dialog.
  • 6. On the "General" tab, make sure that both "Client for Microsoft Networks" and "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" are present and checked in the listbox titled "This connection uses the following items:". If one or both are missing, click "Install..." and install them. They should be present by default.

This procedure should make sure that both the Mac and XP are members of a common workgroup on the same physical network, and that they are able to share files over that network.

  • 7. To create a workgroup connection to your Mac from Parallels->XP, open "My Computer" and click "View workgroup computers" from the "Network Tasks" portion of the common tasks pane on the left-hand side of the window. If the common tasks pane is not displayed, choose "Tools->Folder Options" from the window's menu, and make sure "Show common tasks in folders" is selected. Sooner or later, your Mac should show up in the list of workgroup computers. It will have the name you assigned to it when you first installed OS X on your Mac. (To see it, choose "About this Mac" from the apple menu, click the "More Info..." button, and select the "Software" item in the left-hand list - the right-hand pane will show your Mac's name next to "Computer Name:".)
  • 8. Once you can see your Mac in XP's list of workgroup computers, open it by double-clicking it. You will be prompted for a user name and password. Type in the user name and password you use to login on your Mac. If you save this, Windows will not prompt you again the next time you open your Mac from XP.

This will give you folder and file level access to all items in your home directory on the Mac from XP. Now for the fun part.

Other Areas[edit]

In order to get access to other areas on your Mac (including USB or other disk drives) you can create Unix-style symbolic links anywhere in your home directory that point to these locations. Note that Mac-style aliases or shortcuts will *not* work with Windows File Sharing. You must create a true Unix-style symbolic link, and the easiest way to do that is from the Terminal on the Mac.

  • 1. Open Applications/Utilities/Terminal.
  • 2. Navigate to whereever you would like to create the symbolic links (note that for XP to see them, they must be somewhere in your home directory - neat freaks may want to create a subdirectory just to hold these symbolic links). For example, if you want to create them in your Documents directory, type "CD Documents" in the Terminal window.
  • 3. To create a symbolic link to a folder anywhere on your Mac's hard drive, type this command in Terminal:

(Obviously, replace the first path after the "-s" with the directory on your disk you wish to link to, and use whatever name you want as the DESIRED-LINK-NAME.)

  • 4. To link to a USB or other disk drive, type this command:

(Again, replace EXISTING-DISK-VOLUME above with the exact volume name of your external or other disk drive.)

PLEASE NOTE: Step 4 will NOT work for you unless the disk is mounted and available on your Mac.

Another tip: Step 4 will work even for disk-image files (*.dmg) on your Mac. Just make sure the image is mounted before creating the symbolic link.

  • 5. The link names you created in these steps will appear as folders in whatever part of your home directory you created them in when viewing your home folder in XP. If you copy a file to or from one of these folders in XP, it will be copied to or from that disk on your Mac.
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