There have always been debates on which is better: Mac or Windows PC. And both sides seem to have almost the same number of supporters.
However, there are a few who like to experience both worlds. Also, some may want to switch from Mac to Windows PC due to several personal or professional reasons.
In such situations, you may have to transfer your data from Mac to Windows. But, as they are totally different environments, there are not many options to share the files between them. Some of the easiest ways are using the External storage drive, network connection, and cloud services.
And even in these media, there are a few mandatory steps to make them compatible with both systems. In this guide, we are discussing all the possible ways to copy your data from the Mac to the Windows PC.
Table of Contents
Transfer Files From Mac to PC
It is fairly easy to transfer the data from Mac to a Windows PC. However, some files present on your Mac, such as the iWork files, may not work in Windows. In such a case, you may have to export them to a format compatible with Windows before transferring them.
Now, let’s move on to the ways that you can use to share files from your Mac to Windows PC.
Using External Storage Drive
External storage drives are the most common and probably the easiest way to transfer files between two systems. These storage drives, such as the external hard drive, USB flash drive, etc., are viable for both Mac as well as Windows PC.
So, if you possess an external storage drive, then you can make its use to share files between these two PCs. Let’s look at the process stepwise.
Ensure that the External Storage Drive is in ExFAT Format
As the Mac and Windows use different file systems, the external drive may not be supported in both systems at the same time. For instance, usually, the drive used in Mac is in Mac OS Extended Format, and when you insert this drive into a Windows PC, it won’t recognize the drive.
Similarly, Windows PC mostly formats the external drives in NTFS or FAT32 file system. You can read the content of this drive on Mac but cannot write into it.
Thus, you need to make sure the drive is formatted in the file system supported by both PCs, which is ExFAT. If it is not, then you will have to format the drive keeping the file system as ExFAT.
If you have an External drive that works on Windows PC,
- Insert the drive into your computer.
- Press Windows + ‘E’ to open File Explorer and find the drive.
- Right-click on the external drive and select Properties.
- Look at the File System.
- If it is other than ExFAT, then right-click on the drive again and select Format.
- Choose ExFAT as the file system and click Format.
- After the format completes, you will be able to use this drive on both Mac and Windows PC.
If you have an External drive that works on Mac,
- Insert the drive into your Mac.
- Click on the Search icon at the top right corner of the window and type Disk Utility.
- Select Disk Utility from the list.
- Navigate to the external drive by clicking on its name under the External section.
- Find the name of the file system type.
- If it is other than ExFAT, click Erase at the top of the Window.
- Give a name to your drive, select ExFAT as the Format and click Erase.
Now, you can use the external drive in both types of PCs.
Copy the Files to the Drive
Now it’s time to copy the files you want to share to the external drive.
- Insert the drive into your Mac PC.
- Click on the Finder icon on the dock on the desktop.
- Select all the files that you want to copy. We recommend you create a new folder and keep all the data in it first to make the file transfer process more organized.
- Right-click on the new folder or the files and select Copy.
- Click on the external drive from the left panel in Finder.
- Right-click on the empty space inside the drive and select Paste Items to copy all those files.
- Make sure you have transferred all the necessary files to the drive.
However, if you use the Photos app on your Mac to keep your images and videos, then you will have to first export them.
- Start the Photos app from the dock on your Mac.
- Choose all the photos and albums that you want to share by pressing Command + A.
- Go to File and select Export.
- Choose the Export Unmodified Original option.
- Select the Subfolder Format and click Export.
- Choose the External storage drive and select a folder to keep the exported files.
- Finally, select Export Originals.
You are now ready to copy the files to your Windows PC.
Copy Files to the Windows PC
Let’s move on to the process of transferring files from the external drive to your PC right away.
- Connect the external storage drive into your Windows PC.
- Press Windows + ‘E’ to open File Explorer and double-click on the external storage drive.
- Select all the files in the drive and right-click on them.
- Choose Copy.
- Open the drive where you want to keep these files on your PC. You can create a new folder to organize the file in a better way.
- Right-click on the empty space and select Paste.
You have now access to all your Mac files directly on your PC.
Using Network Sharing
If you use both your Windows and Mac PC within the same network connection, then you can share files from your PC through the LAN connection. It is much easier, hassle-free, and no need for any external drive to be plugged in and unplugged time and again to share the data.
Here are the steps to share files through Network.
Enable Network Sharing on Mac
Let’s look at the process of enabling file sharing through the network on your Mac PC.
- Click on the Apple Icon at the top-left corner of the screen and select System Preferences.
- Find the Sharing option and click on it.
- Check the File Sharing box.
- Click on the Options menu and ensure that you check Share files and folders using SMB.
- Select the account from which you want to allow the sharing. You may be prompted to enter the password. Remember the name of this account and the password.
- Click OK.
Add the Necessary Files to the Network
Now, you will have to select the files that are to be shared and add them to the network.
- Inside Sharing, click on the ‘+’ icon at the bottom of the window.
- Find the folder and files that you need to share and click Add.
- Repeat step 2 until you have added all the necessary files. You can also keep all the required files in the same folder by following the steps mentioned earlier and adding that particular folder.
- Note the SMB IP address of your Mac under the File Sharing: On section. It should look like smb://192.****.
Access the Files From the Network on Windows
You can now access the files from the Network and copy them to your PC.
- Press Windows + ‘R’ to open the Run dialog box.
- Enter \\ followed by the Mac IP address (\\192.****). You can also enter the IP address as smb://192.****, as you noted from the Mac. However, there is a difference in the type of slash used in the two formats.
- Click OK to connect to the Mac PC.
- Enter the username and password when prompted.
- Select the files and folders shared in the network and right-click on them.
- Select Copy.
- Navigate to the drive where you want to keep the files.
- Right-click inside the storage drive and select Paste.
You can use this method to share files whenever needed and the speed will depend on the strength of your connection.
Using Cloud Service
As the internet is becoming the norm, we now prefer storing our files on various cloud services. You can use this media to share files from your Mac to the Windows PC.
If you are using iCloud on your Mac to back up your data, you can log in to your iCloud account from the Windows PC and copy the necessary files.
On Mac PC,
- Open a browser on your Mac and go to the iCloud website.
- Log in with your Apple ID.
- Select iCloud Drive.
- Now, drag and drop the files you want to share from your Mac to the cloud drive.
On Windows PC,
- Go to the iCloud website and log in with the Apple credential.
- Select iCloud Drive.
- Select the files you want to copy and click on the Download icon.
Apart from iCloud, you can also use Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and other cloud services to share the data. However, the internet speed and cloud storage space can limit the size of the files you want to share.
Using Third-Party File Transfer Software
If you do not want to use cloud services for syncing a few files temporarily, then you can make use of other third-party file transfer software. These services let you add files to their server and use an encryption key to access the file.
The common steps in these programs are given below.
- You will have to install the software on both your Mac and Windows.
- Add the files to the software on your Mac PC.
- Sync the files and copy the encryption key.
- Open the program on your Windows PC and use that key to access the file.
- You can then copy the necessary files to your computer.
Some of the popular file transfer services are Resilio Sync, Icedrive, Syncthing, etc., which are supported in both Mac and Windows PC.