Mac to Windows File Sharing with SMB and CIFS Sharing files between Macs and NAS drives and Windows PC’s has always been very easy, but Mavericks brought a slight change that has caused some problems for certain users in mixed PC and Mac environments. Without getting too geeky, Apple adjusted the default protocol for SMB (Samba, the Windows file sharing ability) from SMB1 to SMB2, and the SMB2 implementation apparently carries a bug which is incompatible with many NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices, and some versions of Windows. The issue is pretty obvious when you encounter it: Many Windows PC’s, NAS drives, and Linux machines won’t access or mount from the Mac, and instead will try to connect or mount forever and ultimately time out, preventing connections, mapped drives, and general access.

Fortunately there’s a very easy workaround to connect to SMB and NAS shares from OS X Mavericks:

  • From the OS X Finder, hit Command+K to summon “Go To Server” as usual
  • In the “Server Address” field, enter the IP to connect to with the cifs:// prefix as follows:
  • cifs://127.0.0.1
    Connect to SMB NAS shares in OS X Mavericks

  • Connect to the SMB, NAS, or Windows share as usual
  • CIFS uses SMB sharing

SMB Share connected in OS X Mavericks

Yes it really is as simple as specifying the protocol to be cifs:// rather than smb://, which if you’ve ever mounted Samba shares from the command line you’ve probably already used cifs before.

If you’re wondering why this works, it’s because using CIFS connects with SMB1 rather than the (currently) buggy implementation of SMB2. The result; cross-platform network shares functioning as usual. I ran into this last night and it was fairly frustrating to experience, but a big thanks to TUAW who discovered the simple workaround a few days ago. Because there are tons of Mac-to-PC networks out there, this will probably be a frequently encountered issue for many Mavericks users. With that said, going the other way around and file sharing from Mac OS X to Windows continues to work exactly as intended, though it should be noted that OS X Mavericks has seamlessly moved all network-based Mac-to-Mac file sharing to SMB2 as well, though the traditional AFP continues to function as well for legacy support and for connecting between Mavericks and earlier versions of OS X.

This really is just a bug with the newest version of Mac OS X, and it will probably be resolved shortly with an update to Mavericks, perhaps as OS X 10.9.1 or even a smaller supplemental update.

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