Windows Server 2003 Server and Macintosh

Updated September 19, 2007

Send us your comments and experiences with Windows 2003 and Macs.

On this page:

Microsoft pages

Some other MacWindows reports on Windows Servers


In April 2003, Microsoft officially released Windows 2003 Server. A multipart review from eWeek says this about the new platform:

Microsoft has taken some innovative technologies and wrapped them into a nice interface to a server operating system that is more secure, friendlier to developers, has better performance and can be better integrated into heterogeneous environments than previous versions.

Reader Reports

SFM in Windows 2003: little change from Win 2000

June 13, 2003
Ethan Allen of Microsoft answered our question about the difference between Services for Macintosh in Windows Server 2003 and in Windows 2000 Server:

To give you the short and easy answer, there is none. The only changes made to SFM for all Whistler releases (now called XP and 2003) were bug fixes (mostly minor ones at that) and taking out Print Services for Macintosh from XP. There may have been a few slightly large bugs fixed, but as I recall, there were very few blue screen show-stopper bugs in SFM to begin with, so the developer focused on other tasks he had.

...I can tell you that at least a couple of blue screen type crashes were fixed and a number of password and login related bugs were also fixed.

June 13, 2003
Michael Maday came to a similar conclusion through some testing. His testing also found that Group Logic's ExtremeZ-IP was a better solution than SFM:

My informal testing included an iMac G3 with OS 9.2.2 and a PowerBook G4 1 GHz with OS X 10.2.5. I didn't see any speed differences whatsoever between testing SFM between Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2003 Server. I'd bet the farm that it is mostly the same code base. My thinking is that Microsoft has no real reason to rewrite the ASIP portion as OS X supports SMB connections. There's just no business reason for Microsoft to dump $$ into development if the target client base (OS X) can do the same thing using another (and MS's home-base) protocol.

After much testing, I still feel the best solution is ExtremeZ-IP. Of all the AFP over IP solutions I've used, none has matched the uptimes and simplicity. Novell's solution is a wee-bit faster, but also brings complexities to the table that aren't needed. I've removed SFM from all my servers as it truly has no benefit for me-whether it's 3 users or 250 users on a single server, I'll stick with ExtremeZ-IP.

June 23, 2003
Igor Zagatsky

I got a chance to test Windows 2003 last week and was disappointed that there was no change in functionality or speed from the Win 2000 version as you reported. ExtremeZ-IP is in fact a much better product (as Michael Maday pointed out). But it's a rather expensive product, especially on top of purchasing Windows 2003.

I wanted to suggest that you post contact info for Microsoft so we can encourage them to improve SFM. The info is in article 114491.

Hopefully they will listen. I personally suggested that they add AFP 3.1 support for much better OS X compatibility. AFP 3.1 supports long file names and automatic reconnection of file servers (among many other important features).

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Mac OS 9 clients authentication problem Win 2003 Server

September 15, 2003
Eric Garneau reports a problem and a solution with Mac OS 9 and Windows 2003 server, which he says has to do with authentication:

Here is a problem related by a friend with Mac OS 9.2.2 computers trying to access Windows 2003 Server file servers. Through the Chooser and AppleShare they see the server volumes but they can't log on to them. With Mac OS X 10.2 there is no problem accessing the volumes.

I suggested he try this solution I found with Google on

I have FINALLY figured out what the hell is going on.

There is an issue with XP, that requires all authentication to be digitally sealed, or encrypted. Samba does not yet support this "feature" as it is an Active Directory thing.

So what you need to do is go into the Local Policy for XP Pro, or the Domain Policy for Win 2003 Server (which is basically XP server), and change the policy named Microsoft network client: Digitally sign communications (always) to disabled. There is also one for server, I would disable that as well. You MUST reboot for the changes to take effect. Or you can stop and start some services which isn't as reliable, to me.

Keep in mind this is reducing the security on your XP / Win 2003 machines ( if you have any ). So do this at your own risk..."

And it did work. Maybe someone can offer an explanation or alternative, confirm or deny this problem.

November 24, 2003
Matthew Wallis

I was wondering if anyone has come across a problem we're having with 2003 server and Mac OS9 clients. We recently upgraded from Window 2000 Server (which was working fine with Mac clients) to 2003 and now Mac clients seem to have no write access to any share. I've tried using Microsoft UAM instead of Apple clear text, and also assigning person-specific privileges instead of everyone, but it makes no difference. Even if I connect as an administrator it doesn't work, but if I connect to the same share from a Windows machine it's fine. Am I missing something? The only thing that occurs to me is that Metaframe XP FR3/SP3 is running as well and could be causing a problem, but it was running on 2000 server as well and the problem did not occur.

Suggested fixes

September 23, 2003
Guenther Alka

There is a simple solution. Go to computer management and right click on shared folders. Now you can setup Service for Macintosh file services. Choose Apple unencrypted authentication instead of Microsoft UAM.

Now you can login from each OS 9 computer without any problems at a reduced security level.

September 23, 2003
Ernie Franic

Did Eric Garneau have the Microsoft UAM software installed on his Mac OS 9 machine? Seems like a good place to start troubleshooting.

More suggestions are directly below.

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Getting any Mac to work with Win 2003 File Server

September 24, 2003 -- Brad Murray can't get his Mac OS 9 or X clients to work with Windows 2003 Server:

We still can't get any Mac clients to talk to our new Windows 2003 file server even after disabling this policy everywhere we could find it. Mac OS X 10.2.6 returns a SMB -5000 error, OS 9 just says the authentication method required by this server isn't available.


We received a number of suggestions for our previous report of problems accessing Windows Server 2003. The reader said that Mac OS X 10.2.6 returns a SMB -5000 error, while Mac OS 9 reports that the authentication method required by this server isn't available.

October 9, 2003
ean-François Côté reports that Microsoft Knowledge Base article 316076 solved his problem Macs accessing Windows Server 2003.

October 6, 2003
Brad Murray, who originally reported the problem, fixed it this way:

We actually got it to work. The registry key change was the key. I found that on the site.

That and the Microsoft UAM install not being corrupt (ours was for some reason, make sure it has an icon, would also be nice if Microsoft offered a download page for this), and everything is working great.

October 6, 2003
Amos Hayes suggested that a default server setting of "digitally sign communication" causes the problem:

After some investigation, I thought I would provide a bit more detail on the exact setting required and how to apply it.

FYI, according to the MS contextual help in the policy editor, Windows 2003 Server domain controllers have "Microsoft network server: Digitally sign communications (always)" set to "Enabled" by default. This is likely causing the Macs to fail to authenticate with the "error = -5000".

To change this on a given domain controller, go to "Start" ->"Administrative Tools" -> "Domain Controller Policy" (not Domain Policy) and look for "Security Settings" -> "Local Policies" -> "Security Options" -> "Microsoft network server: Digitally sign communications (always)". It should show "Enabled" by default. Double-click on it and set to "Disabled". Then close the app and reboot the server. When it comes back up, the Macs should connect without difficulty.

This is the only setting that needs to be changed. Disabling the other similar settings will only weaken the security between all your Windows boxes.

BTW: Right clicking on these settings gives a very good synopsis.

October 6, 2003
Clyde P. also saw the problem and did the same thing as Hayes:

I was able to overcome the OS X problem by disabling the ICF Service. Start > Administrative Tools > Services > Internet Connection Firewall (ICF)/...Stop and Disable.

I am searching for an OS 9 solution.

October 6, 2003
Several readers also referred us to a posting at Mac OS X Hints.

After installing a Windows 2003 Server and trying to mount a share in Mac OS X, everything was fine in Workgroup mode. However, after putting the Windows server 2003 in Domain Controller mode, I started to have get -5000 errors coming from SMB. The Macintosh File Server is installed.

After some searching, I found that after promoting a Windows Server 2003 to a Domain Controller, you must check the Domain Security Policy and de-activate the "Always secured connection" policy. I don't understand why, but after changing that setting, it works fine.

October 6, 2003
Jeannie Liou recommends specifying the sharepoint name:

Here's what I've found. When connecting from Mac OS 10.2.x to a Windows Server (NT 4.0, 2000, or 2003), you need to type the exact sharepoint name. For example, smb:\\servername\sharename. Doesn't matter whether connecting via SMB or AFP or encryption enabled on NT side.

October 9, 2003
Matthew Costa:

Guenther Alka's simple fix was all I needed to do. I setup a Windows 2003 test server and created a Mac share. At first login attempt on OS 9.2.2 I get the error... "The User Authentication Method required by the server can't be found. Please check the AppleShare folder in the Extensions folder and try again." With OS 10.2.6 I get the error... "An error has occurred (error=15023) using SMB and an error (-5002) using AppleTalk.

-Simply go to Computer Management on the Windows 2003 server and right click on Shared Folders - Configure File Server for Macintosh.

-In the Security section under Enable Authentication, the drop down box has "Microsoft Only" by default. I switched it to "Apple Clear Text or Microsoft" and hit Apply.

Then I was able to login to the Windows 2003 server from Mac OS 9.2.2 just fine. Also tested login with 8.6, 9.0.4 and 9.1 with success. I was also successful with OS 10.2.6 using AppleTalk and SMB. 

I'm sure if Mac users who have Microsoft's UAM installed will have no problem with the default "Microsoft Only" Authentication although I have not tested this.

October 9, 2003
Dedrick Allen

There is a simple solution. Go to computer management and right click on shared folders. Now you can setup Service for Macintosh file services. Choose Apple unencrypted authentication instead of Microsoft UAM. Now you can login from each OS 9 computer without any problems at a reduced security level.

October 9, 2003
David Brown

Not really a new problem; has been around for quite a while with Samba clients and Win 95 clients (and I'd guess Windows 3.11 but I haven't had one lately :-) trying to access Win XP shares. Certainly more significant with Server 2003, though.

October 9, 2003
Darin Prail

I have had no trouble using OS 9.2.2 with a 2003 server but I had to replace the AppleShare folder on each OS 9 machine with the one found in the default Mac share of the 2003 server (and since I couldn't get onto the server with the Mac, I had to burn the folder onto a CD then copy the folder into the extensions folder from the CD). The reason is in win 2003 server, Mac clients are required to use NTLMv2 which does use encryption not found in the plaintext logon of SFM on nt. Unfortunately this has the negative effect of not allowing shares to reconnect automatically on logon which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on if you need convenience or security. I suppose you could change the local security policy on the server but I can't imagine that many Sysadmins would want to do that.

November 24, 2003
Jim Seifert

Windows 2003 Server ships with MS UAM authentication required for Mac clients. Your reader can enable clear text authentication or install the MS UAM on his Mac clients. OS 9 certainly does have a better error message for troubleshooting this problem. Another difference you will notice on Server 2003 is that all newly created shared AFP shares are read only by default.

November 24, 2003
A reader named Bostjan has this suggestions for Mac OS 9 clients:

Try on Win 2003:

Settings/Control panel/Administrative tools/Computer management

Computer Management (local)/Shared Folders -Action-Configure File Server For Macintosh

November 24, 2003
Michael Sandoval has seen some other problems with Windows Server 2003:

I have a client that using Mac OS 9, Photoshop and Quark to connect to a Windows file server. We recently (3 months ago) moved to a Windows 2003 server platform. Since then I have encountered the following issues:

1) Files posted to Mac & PC share from a PC not viewable on a Mac. If I removed and re-create Macintosh share the new files would show up. Problem was fixed by creating a new empty Mac share and coping files into it instead of sharing a folder with the files already inside them (Required call into Microsoft Product Support).

2) Clients get mysteriously locked up, and need to reboot to get back onto network. Has happened about 3 times in the past 3 months (That I know of). Unable to figure this one out. Increased server timeout from 15 minutes to several hours on the server. Happened once since then but only on one computer where in the past it was all my Macs.

3) File dates are not showing correctly on Mac clients. PC's are able to view correct dates, but not on the Macs. Calling into MS PSS.

I'm considering using the ExtremeZ-IP 3.1 as a file share for the Macs but want to get more feedback from people who may already use it.

More on the Domain Controller

November 24, 2003
Guillaume Brocard

I found that after promoting a Windows Server 2003 to a Domain Controller, you must check the Domain Security Policy and deactivate the "Always secured connection" policy. after changing that setting, it works fine.

Or use Thursby's ADmitMac to do it.

November 24, 2003
Amos Hayes sent in some exact procedures:

The other descriptions I have seen are a bit vague (and/or incorrect) about the exact setting. After some investigation, I thought I would provide a bit more detail on the exact setting required and how to apply it.

FYI, according to the MS contextual help in the policy editor, Windows 2003 Server domain controllers have "Microsoft network server: Digitally sign communications (always)" set to "Enabled" by default. This is likely causing the Macs to fail to authenticate with the "error = -5000".

To change this on a given domain controller, go to "Start" ->"Administrative Tools" -> "Domain Controller Policy" (not Domain Policy) and look for "Security Settings" -> "Local Policies" -> "Security Options" -> "Microsoft network server: Digitally sign communications (always)". It should show "Enabled" by default. Double-click on it and set to "Disabled". Then close the app and reboot the server. When it comes back up, the Macs should connect without difficulty.

This is the only setting that needs to be changed. Disabling the other similar settings will only weaken the security between all your Windows boxes.

BTW: Right clicking on these settings gives a very good synopsis.

November 24, 2003
John W. Lee

Regarding the Windows server issue, I read about something similar on Mac OS X Hints the other day. Maybe it will help.
Avoid error -5000 with SMB from Windows 2003 servers

Wed, Sep 24 '03 at 10:19AM • from: voltage230v

After installing a Windows 2003 Server and trying to mount a share in Mac OS X, everything was fine in Workgroup mode. However, after putting the Windows server 2003 in Domain Controller mode, I started to have get -5000 errors coming from SMB. The Macintosh File Server is installed.

After some searching, I found that after promoting a Windows Server 2003 to a Domain Controller, you must check the Domain Security Policy and deactivate the "Always secured connection" policy. I don't understand why, but after changing that setting, it works fine.

A simpler suggestion for OS 9 clients

February 15, 2005
An anonymous reader

We just migrated our OS 9.1 Macs from a Windows 2000 file server to a Windows 2003 file server.

After we created a share for AppleTalk users (like we did on our 2000 server) we found that they had read-only permission even though the share and security (NTFS) permissions were set to full access.

We were rolling up our sleeves for a major operation but the solution turned out to be simple: A read-only check box was checked!

How to fix it:

  1. Right-click "My Computer"
  2. Choose "Manage"
  3. Choose Shared Folders -> Shares
  4. Right-Click the Macintosh share and choose properties.
  5. Uncheck the "This volume is read only" box.

Windows Server 2003/OS X disconnections

October 29, 2004 -- Paul Kneipp has a problem with Windows 2003 Server disconnection Macs running Panther:

Since upgrading to Windows 2003 Server at our school, OS X clients (10.3) are being disconnected randomly, sometimes even whilst being used. I contacted Microsoft; they couldn't even say if there was a time out setting for the Win 2000 clients, let alone Macs. Under Win 2000 Server, it seemed to be OK.

The problem is, teachers are leaving FileMaker open and then teaching for 5 or 10 minutes; the time it waits before disconnecting seems random. We are going nuts about this.

Most clients are connecting via IP address and they are all authorized users. This problem doesn't seem to happen on the PC clients.

November 1, 2004
Donald Harkin

It happens with us, too. We are using a grading program which resides on a Windows 2003 box. All of our iBooks run Panther. Disconnects happen randomly at any given time.

November 1, 2004
Derek Smith reports seeing the problem with AdmitMac on the network:

I've seen it sporadically here as well. We use ADmitMac to authenticate and automount two volumes at user login. In our case one of the volumes will dismount with the 'puff-of-smoke' animated icon. The volume cannot be remounted during the same session, and on one occasion could not be remounted until after 3 reboots. On one occurrence, both mounted volumes dismounted. ADmitMac automounts using SMB (CIFS). In general, the volume on which the users' files resides is the volume which is dismounted. For our PC users, this volume holds home folders specified in the users' profiles. On our OS X machines, I have ADmitMac use a local user folder.

I mentioned ADmitMac only because it is the method we use to automount volumes at user login. The unexpected dismount is very rare, (three reports - I've only seen it once with my own eyes,) and I have no evidence ADmitMac is responsible. Once the volume is mounted, I believe the OS is responsible for maintaining the connection on the client end, not ADmitMac. The disconnects could very likely come from the server, or perhaps they are even network related. The jury is still out on this one.

Saving problem with Word files

November 8, 2004
Michael Pearson sees this problem with Word files:

At our University we are having the same problem saving Word files on a Win 2003 server. Our magazine labs is using G5s running 10.3.5. Many times Word files on the server can not be saved under the same name, it gives the error that the file is in use or the network share has been closed, neither of which is true. I gave everyone full control for the temporary items folder but we are still having the problem.

March 11 2005
Kevin Myers has the problem with a Linux SMB server:

I have just converted a small office from Windows 2000 workstations to Mac G5s. They're using a Linux server for SMB file sharing, based on Redhat 7 running Samba 2.2.7. The server has been running in this configuration for years without problems.

The G5s are running OfficeX and are exhibiting the exact symptoms as above - occasionally. It's not a disconnection problem. It's linked to the presence of what I assume is a lock file (named "._documentfilename") in the shared directory. It appears that once that is removed (at the server), the file can be saved again from the workstation.

March 14, 2005
Dan Szczepaniak

Our iMac's (USB 2.0) with Office 2004 can not save Word files on our Windows 2000 server. (But my Power Mac G4 Mirror Bay Doors can save Word files to the SMB server.) I have found that if you connect to the server via the IP address, Word can save files, but when opening a folder, there is a delay before you see the contents of the folder. I contacted Microsoft Tech Support about a month ago and they say there is a problem with the SMB protocol and are working with Apple to fix it. Microsoft Tech Support says it's because Word uses a work file. Excel and PowerPoint save files without a problem.

March 14, 2005
Rault Kehlor

I've seen this problem too, but with all file types, not just Word files. We have a Windows 2003 server that we access with Windows 2000 and our Macs (OS X 10.3.8) via SMB. (The server is running Services for Macintosh, but it STILL doesn't allow long file names, so we prefer to connect via SMB.)

Sometimes we can't save a new version of an existing file; other times, we delete a file first, then try to save a new version with the same name, and it still won't let us save it -- we get the message "the file is in use." We've seen this with Word files, Excel files, Peak files, QuickTime movies, etc.

We've had many reports of problems with Excel, where Virex seems to cause the problem.

Troubleshooting advice and potential cause

November 1, 2004
Ronald McCafferty

I have seen this many times, and in many cases have needed to look further into network hardware settings, such as DHCP lease options, router/firewall rules, as in trusted addresses, which contain the hardware (MAC) addresses of each NIC (Ethernet card). Try using the Microsoft User Authentication Module for the OS X machines as well. However, my guess is that something is not configured properly on one of your routers or firewalls.

To prove this, try using an unassigned static IP address in the same subnet as your DHCP scope. See if that machine stays connected. If so, then look at your DHCP settings for the problem. Delete all active leases, set the default lease for a shorter time, then refresh each computer to test.

There is nothing wrong with Windows 2003 Services for Mac, other than it is not the total answer to file services for the Mac.

Suggested Fix

November 15, 2004
Julian Poyntz

I gleaned this off of another Mac site. It seems to have worked here.
  1. Go to the Start Menu
  2. Select Programs
  3. Select Administrative Tools
  4. Select Local Security Policy
  5. Choose Local Policies
  6. Select Security Options
  7. Change Amount of idle time required before disconnecting session to 0

Microsoft's fix

November 23, 2004
Joseph Senak has a suggestion for the problem of Windows Server 2003/OS X disconnections, which is similar to disconnection of Windows clients:

The timeout problem sounds very much like Knowledge Base article Q297684. I applied that fix for Macs and a Windows 2000 Server share which seemed to work just fine.

Can't save Excel files on Windows Server 2003 with Mac OS X

September 27, 2004
Claudio Tolli describes a problem accessing Windows 2003 Server using the SMB file sharing protocol:

We have a Windows 2003 Server. We have activated File Service for Macintosh, so Macs running Mac OS X can connect with AFP as well as SMB. However, we have a problem with SMB.

When I create an Excel file on a Mac and drag and drop it to the Win Server 2003, I can open the file with another Mac, I can't save the file. The Excel file on the server then gets a new file name made of random characters.

The problem does not occur when the first Mac saves the Excel file directly to the server, rather than drag-and-dropping. I've never seen this problem with older versions of the server and Mac OS.

October 13, 2004
Charlie Butters

We see the same problem here on our network, although we are using CIFS shares rather than AFP or SMB shares. Occasionally the file save will work. Other times, the file save will stall for a bit, then show a dialog saying that the save failed. The original file gets renamed with a random character file name. Normally to get around it, I will open the saved filed, save it to my desktop, then copy that version to the proper location on the share.

We initially thought the problem had to do with longer file names, but the problem occurs with short file names also.

If you've seen this problem

October 20, 2004
Ian Schorr

Well, CIFS and SMB are essentially one and the same, so I'm not quite sure what they're saying in the first sentence. (CIFS technically is just a 1997 marketing re-branding of "SMB" to include the words "Internet" and "File System", though the CIFS/SMB protocol suite has grown to include more protocols than when the suite was described as "SMB" by Microsoft, so many people believe they're different). Mac OS X and some other stacks/OS use the URIs interchangeably.

October 25, 2004
Mark Keratin described different symptoms with Word and Excel:

I've set up one folder on our Windows 2003 server to be shared by two Mac OS X (10.3.5) users. Each user has "Full Control" enabled under this shared folder's Security setting via the Windows server. However, only the originator of the Excel file can save changes to the file. If a subsequent user tries to save a change to the file then a error message is generated: "Save not completed. File rename failed." Then it renames the file with apparently random characters.

In Word the error is different. It reads, "There has been a network or file permission error. The network connection may be lost." After clicking "OK" Word then prompts the user with the "Save as:" dialog box. If "Cancel" is selected Word repeats the same error message and then allows you to successfully cancel the save upon clicking "OK".

This is an extremely frustrating problem and a fundamental roadblock to simple file-sharing, one that I hope Apple, Microsoft or both work to resolve quickly.

December 21, 2004
Michael Burdett is another reader reporting problems with Excel files:

I am having the same issues with windows 2003 server, Mac OS X, and Excel.

We are using CIFS shares and occasionally the file save will work in Excel. Other times, the file save will stall for a bit, then show a dialog saying that the save failed. The original file gets renamed with a random character file name (I believe it is part of the temp file name). Normally to get around it, I will open the saved filed, save it to my desktop, then copy that version to the proper location on the share.

We initially thought the problem had to do with longer file names, or long folder names but the problem occurs with short folder and file names also.

December 30, 2004
Chris Hollidge sees the problem with a Unix SMB server:

We are presently experiencing the same problem on a UNIX Server System called Netmanager. Netmanager uses SMB to connect to it's client's which all have static IP addresses assigned so I know the problem is not to do with DHCP leases. As everyone has stated the original user can edit/save the created file but other users cannot and Microsoft have accepted this Article ID 833613.

However, to see if it was our Netmanager Server I used a Windows 2000 Professional PC and ran the file from there instead. The problem is exactly the same and thinking it was something to do with Office v.X on the Mac we tried upgrading to Office 2004 which has made no difference. The stupid thing is, our client is a design studio which uses large illustrator files from Netmanager with no problems.

Theory on the cause of the problem

October 20, 2004
Michael Ecker

We have probably found one reason for this weird behavior and are able to reproduce the error. At least the symptoms appear to be the same as described in your article. Although the reason doesn't necessarily have to be the same.

Client: MacOS X 10.3.5 Server: W2003 Share connected via SMB/CIFS

The user on the client opens a file on the share and leaves it open. On the Server we start a Backup Job (Backup Exec 9.1) and let it run. After the Backup Job is done, the Client cannot simply save the file anymore, it gets renamed as described in your article. We believe it has something to do with how the Backup Software handles open files. We haven't found a way to get around this issue, but at least we can reproduce the error.

Potential fix from Microsoft

October 25, 2004
Mark Keratin

We've seen this problem using Mac OS X clients (10.3.5) and Windows 2003 Server and, after researching the issue, have found some information that may help others:

1. This Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 833613 describes a situation:

... the original file is not removed quickly enough from the network share folder when Excel tries to replace the original file with your changed file. Therefore, you cannot save the replacement file by using the original file name.

The offending application in this KB article is MS Excel 2000 (Windows), but the problem appears very similar to the current Mac OS X problem.

MS mentions SFM as a contributing factor but, as we've seen, the problem also occurs on volumes that are not SFM-activated.

The article goes on to say that users should contact MS for a hot-fix for the above KB issue. We have not tried this yet.

Also, if the only problem was "slow file removal" then all users should be affected equally. This is not the case. The creator seems to be able to edit/save their server-based files without incident.

2. Regardless of the Windows server security privileges that are set for the file Mac OS X acts as if only the creator can make changes and save a file that is server-based. Others that are allowed access to the file (by Windows 2003 Server), can only read the file. Mac OS X appears to obeying UNIX permissions that the Windows server is not overriding.

December 30, 2004
Bruce Elliott

We are having exactly the same problem as delineated by Claudio Tolli except that we are connecting via SMB to a Windows 2003 Server. I've been looking at the *attrib* DOS command, applying it to the Excel file at the server... but to no avail.

What troubles me is that Google turns up so few others affected with this problem. Surely others are using Microsoft Office v.X on their OS X machines.

Since our network share on the Windows server is not SFM, I'm reluctant to apply the Microsoft hotfix referred to in KB 833613. And yet the problem would seem to be at the server. Has anyone else tried the hotfix? If so, what happens?

Virex is the cause

If you've tried turning off Virex

December 30, 2004
Michael Burdett

Well it looks like we may have found the problem. We opened Virex 7.5 preferences and unchecked active virus detection.

This seems to have corrected the problems. Not the answer I was looking for bit it does seem to work.

January 3, 2005
Michael Burdett

Virex, seems to delay the delete to the temp file and the saving of the file causing problems when saving on the Windows 2003 server.

January 3, 2005
Michael Cutts sent us an interesting observation regarding Virex and Excel that may (or may not) be related:

I run Microsoft Office 2001 in Classic, as well as Virex. After first installing Virex about a year ago, I noticed that all my Excel files opened the Virex scanning program when double-clicked.

I used the Get Info dialog in OS X to tell the OS to open all .XLS files with Excel, and things now work properly. So maybe extension and/or file type/creator codes are somehow involved in the issue you describe? Just an idea.

Tweaking Virex instead of turning it off

January 31, 2005
Tim Moore

I've also been having the problem outlined by your readers, with saving from Excel to a Windows server (in our case, Windows 2000).

Rather than turn Virex off altogether as some people have been suggesting, I've set the Virex Preferences to "Exclude specific disks, files, and folders" -- excluding specifically the /Volumes/ directory which is where all the Windows shares are mounted by OS X.

So far, it looks very promising.

July 19, 2005 -- Jack Solner can't save Excel files on a server from Tiger. While previous reports mention Windows Server 2003 as the target, Solner sees the problem with Novell:

We're having the same problem at our office. But, we have a Novell 6 server with Native File Access. This problem only occurs with Mac OS 10.4-10.4.2. But, with Office v.X as well as Office 2004 with all the current updates applied.

July 17, 2006
Brad Schwie has the problem even without Virex:

I'm experiencing the issue and so are several other Mac users at my company. I completely ridded this machine of Virex a year ago. At the time, I was pretty sure I got everything single component of that app, as it manages to nest itself in a few places.

I've already seen the Microsoft Knowledge Base article as well. I don't have the hotfix described installed on our Windows server, but I also don't fit what's described in the article as I don't have Macintosh File Services enabled on the server.

Mac can't access Win XP Service Pack 2

With this issue, Mac users are accessing Windows XP 2003 clients (not Win Server). Users also report problems accessing printers below.

(We've also had several reports of the opposite problem with SP2: Windows XP SP 2 machines can't access Mac OS X Server.)

November 8, 2004
Stephen Power reports that his Mac can no longer access his Windows XP machine after he updated it with Service Pack 2:

I, too, have recently upgraded my Windows XP laptop to Service Pack 2. My Mac "sees" the computer, but I cannot connect. I can, however, log onto the Mac from my PC, but have lost the ability to network print via the Mac.

Suggestion: Problem related to firewall?

November 15, 2004
Kalani Patterson:

I ran into the same thing. Turning off the firewall fixed the issue. Ideal? No. Does it work? Yup. I would only do this on machines behind a hardware firewall, however (such as a router). Make sure it is back on if you connect from anywhere else, or anywhere public.

November 15, 2004
Steve Maser

If he set the default settings for SP2 -- this turns on the Windows Firewall by default.

You have to make the "File and Print Sharing" Service an exception in the firewall to get into the PC from something else after that.

November 15, 2004
Mr. Holmes saidthis didn't work with print sharing:

I've been having problems with printer sharing on SP2. My Mac can't connect at all anymore. I've even disabled the Windows' firewall. It doesn't work.

November 18, 2004
Christos Efstathiou

I have 3 PCs (2 running Win 2000, one Win XP SP2) and a PowerBook running 10.3.6 and I get an "alias not found" error when I go to connect in the XP shares.

With 10.3.6 I have no problems connecting to older Samba versions (2.2.8a) in my lab. I found a related article at that suggests opening some ports but I haven't tried opening them yet. In the past, I could easily connect to XP shares but it seems to have become worse lately.

November 18, 2004
Dave Leary

I can not connect at all. I have tried turning off the Windows Firewall completely , but OS X 10.3.6 times out before it will connect. I can ping the Windows machine, so I know the network is OK.

Mac OS X 10.3.6 can't access Win XP Service Pack 2 printers

The problem seemst to occur with Mac OS X 10.3.6 and Windows XP Service Pack 2. It isn't clear if the Mac upgrade or the Windows upgrade causes the problem.There are several suggestions below.

The problem

November 18, 2004
Dennis Palmer also has the printing problem:

I have this problem. I have a new Mac dual G5 on a local network with one other XP SP2 machine. I can no longer see the printer that is connected to the XP machine. Blah.

November 29, 2004
Jacoby Thwaites

Printing to a Windows shared printer from Mac OS X 10.3.6 no longer works after applying SP2.

Turning off firewall has no effect, nor ticking the exceptions in the Windows Control Panel for File & Print Sharing.

November 29, 2004
Mike Everatt thinks the problem is on the Mac OS X update, not the Win XP update:

I'm not sure if the problem is Windows SP2. I have an iBook that accessed the shared HP printer on my Windows XP SP2 box, right up until I upgraded the iBook from 10.3.5 to 10.3.6. I noticed the printing problem right away, and made sure that I didn't install the 10.3.6 update on my eMac -- and the emac can still see the shared Windows printer! So the problem is definitely a 10.3.6 update problem.

So in summary -- on my eMac with 10.3.5, I can still see shared printers on my Windows XP SP2 box. On my iBook, with 10.3.6, I cannot.

November 29, 2004
Bryce Steiner

I tried using browsing for printers from OS X 10.3.6 and I too had the problem. It wouldn't let me type in the SMB://computer/printer name. I tried then having it browse my Linux/SMB computer for it's shared printers and it couldn't find the printers on Linux either.

I then tried using Windows XP SP2 to view the printers on Linux and it worked just fine. I'm beginning to think that maybe it's not Win XP SP2 at all, but maybe the new 10.3.6.

Suggestions for print sharing

November 18, 2004
Mickey Hancharenko

I ran into the same problem Mr. Holmes has. My setup is a Windows XP Home system /w SP2, sharing an Epson Stylus C80. It was connecting just fine while the Windows box was still running SP1. After the SP2 upgrade, I no longer can see the printer when trying to reconnect the printer through the Apple Printer Setup Utility.

It was working just fine with SP2 as long as I did not remove the printer from the Setup Utility when upgrading from SP1 to SP2. Windows Firewall is off; it doesn't seem to make a difference.

I've discovered that turning on Print Services for UNIX allows LPR printing from the Mac. I guess this can serve as a temporary fix for those that really need to get printing operational. Access to SMB shared printers Windows boxes running SP2 still doesn't seem to be working.

November 29, 2004
Asger Jensen

I've managed to get printer sharing on Win XP SP2 to work. It's not a very elegant solutions but it works! This is what you do on the Mac OS X 10.3.6.

In "Print and Fax"->"Set up printers" you click "add" while holding the "option" key. This will give you the "advanced" option in the drop down menu. Here you choose "windows printing via Samba" Name the printer and fill out the empty space after SMB:// with either:




January 3, 2005
Carey Tanner verified the previous workaround:

I was having a problem accessing a printer on a Windows 2003 Server from my Mac OS X 10.3.6. I followed the suggestion at the MacWindows Win Server 2003 page.

The first option worked for me. I thought this was interesting since this suggestion worked for connecting to the Windows 2003 Server as well as Windows XP which the suggestion was originally made for.

December 1, 2001
Two readers, Godehard Oepen and Ethan Allen, reported that this fix worked. The later said "workgroup;username@machine/printer works great!"

November 29, 2004
Rahul Mangaldas

I ran into this problem, and I believe I have the solution. Here are the things to check:

1. The Mac and the Windows PC have to be in the same workgroup (usually, it's WORKGROUP; you can change the workgroup on the Mac in the Directory Services app; on Windows, you change it under Control Panel >System > Computer Name)

2. An exception should be made in the Windows firewall for File and Printer Sharing; if you're running Zone Alarm, make sure your LAN is in the Trusted Zone and your Trusted Zone firewall setting is medium or low.

3. Windows XP does not use NetBIOS over TCP/IP (ports 137, 139) by default, instead, it uses direct SMB over TCP/IP (port 445), so enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP in the Windows TCP/IP advanced settings.

4. Enable "Simple File and Printer Sharing" in Windows Explorer >Tools > Folder Options > View (only for Windows XP Pro)

5. If you still can't get it to work, try this (this is the part that I discovered): on the Mac, hold down the Option key when clicking the Add button in Printing Center. Now, in the Add Printer dialog, you'll have an Advanced option at the end of the connection dropdown box. Select that, then select the SMB Printer option, and then, in the URI field, enter the path to the printer as follows: SMB://user:password@win_ip/printer, where user and password are the username and password, separated by a colon, of the Windows user, IP is the IP address of the Windows PC, and printer is the share name of the printer.

December 10, 2004
Jason Fortune verified the previous suggestion:

I too have had the same problems as everyone else getting my Macs to print to my XP printer. Rahul Mangaldas's solution worked great for me.

November 29, 2004
Paul Walmsley

I've had the same printer sharing problems myself OS X (10.3.5/6). I had SP2 installed on Win XP before I acquired a Mac, so I don't know whether the following is attributable to OS X 10.3.x or SP2.

There are two problems here. One is the inability to browse the available Windows printers, and the second is the NT_STATUS_ACCESS_DENIED message you get if you try to print to a printer that you already had set up. The following solution worked for me -- it involves shell-prompt hackery:

1. Start a terminal window and become root with:

*> sudo bash --login*

2. Change to the directory with the CUPS config files:

*> cd /etc/cups*

3. The file *printers.conf* contains the configuration information for the printers on your system. The '*DeviceURI*' line is the important one here. It looks like the Printer Setup Utility gets the format of this wrong. I previously had the following line in mine:


Whereas what is really required is the username and password (haven't tried this with the guest account):

*DeviceURI SMB://WHAMSNET/username:passwd@WHAMS/HP970

*So you need to fix this in your own file (if the file is empty then copy my one, shown below)

4. You now have to restart the CUPS daemon:

*> ps -x | grep cupsd *
> 338 ?? Ss 0:04.0 /usr/sbin/cupsd
*> kill -HUP 338*

5. Now open the printer setup utility and you should see the printer there -- DON'T CHANGE THE CONNECTION SETTINGS

6. Try printing from an application. This now worked for me.

I enclose below the contents of my printers.conf in case you have to create one from scratch:

# Printer configuration file for CUPS v1.1.20rc1
# Written by cupsd on Wed Nov 24 19:26:08 2004
<DefaultPrinter HP970>
Info HP970
DeviceURI SMB://WHAMSNET/user:password@WHAMS/HP970
State Idle
JobSheets none none
QuotaPeriod 0
PageLimit 0
KLimit 0

December 10, 2004
Rob Mason sent us a new fix:

The solution I found was to use the "advanced add printers" option on Mac OS X (hold down Option key when you click add printer) and then choose the SMB printer sharing option and enter the printer URL and model.

That solved the problem for me in a mixed XP/OS X environment with Windows XP serving the printer.

April 15, 2005
Tom Newhouse

We were seeing the NT_STATUS_ACCESS_DENIED. This was driving me NUTS! The first solution work on the second try.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Folder and file dates change on AFP servers: Win Server 2003 SFM, EZ-IP

March 4, 2005 -- Daniel Foshee reports a problem with Windows Server 2003 and Services for Macintosh, where the dates of files and folders suddenly change:

We run OS X Panther 10.3.x (mostly .8) with a Server 2000 on which we store the whole gamut of formats: TIFF, JPEG, EPS, PSD, AI, INDD, MOV... with a dedicated space for them, called MacFIles. Due to the corruption and disappearing problems with SMB, we still use Services for Macintosh.

Every now and then--coinciding, I expect, with a share or volume restore of the server--all the files and folders in MacFiles change to the current date. Thus, while the file may have been created in 1998, last modified on November 20th, 2004, it will show up as today's date. This is true for ALL the files and folders in MacFiles.

Is this fixed in Server 2003? Does this happen with ExtremeZ-IP? This didn't happen with our old OS X Server (first version, served faithfully for four years straight without it EVER crashing; then the hard drive died).

If you've see this

March 9, 2005
John Shi has seen it with ExtremeZ-IP, and has a theory and a workaround:

We ran into the similar issue. However, the file and folder date got modified twice a year only during the Daylight Time Saving. Extreme Z-IP does not address this issue. I am not sure if Windows 2003 Server will have the same issue. I am pretty sure Mac 10.3 Panther server will not have this issue.

To address this issue, we have disabled the automatic daylight saving setting. We will do that manually. Also, we have all the Mac workstation and Windows 2000 file server pointed to the same NTP server. Well, we will see what happen next month when the Daylight Time Saving kicks in.

March 9, 2005
Santino Rizzo has a more general theory and a workaround:

I believe this happens when SFM has to re-create the macfile index which is synchronized with NTFS. Anytime you create, or re-create a Mac volume with files already in it, the dates for all the files will change to that day. The correct way to create or re-create Mac volumes is to create the volume first and then move the files into it. If re-creating or reindexing to fix a Mac volume, first disable the problematic Mac volume, rename the folder, create a new Mac share with the old folder name, and copy the files into it.

If you've tried either of these remedies

Macs hang while searching Win 2003 Server SP1

NOTE: Microsoft has issued a hotfix for the problem of Macs hang while searching Win 2003 SP1 described on our Windows 2003 Reports page. As with most Microsoft hotfixes, you'll need to contact Microsoft to get it.

June 21, 2005
Matthias Wengenroth reports that since upgrading Windows 2003 Server to Service Pack 1, the Macs lock up when searching the server:

We have a Windows 2003 Server with 1TB HDD and all project files on it. Clients run Windows XP SP2, Mac OS 9 and OS X. All works fine using file and print services for Mac (provided by Win2003). Users can search the share and access the files.

Since updating Win 2003 Server to Service Pack 1, all of the Macs, but OS X and OS 9, crash or hang while searching a share with Sherlock or Spotlight.

Access of files is OK (Win and Mac). Searching the share with Win XP is also works.

Uninstalling SP1 solves the problem. But this is not a long time

July 1, 2005
Robert Minch reports a workaround:

We also are experiencing this same problem with Win Server 2003 SP1. We had Find configured to search visible and invisible items. Once we upgraded, Find would either return no results or hang, in some cases causing a kernel panic on the Mac. Turning off the search parameters would stop the hangs, but searching for anything (1.5tb array) would take upwards of 2-3 minutes before any results were returned.

We have since started to search using the search field at the top of each Finder window. Change the parameter to search the selection and start searching. We found that we get better (faster) results by searching within subdirectories rather than searching from the root of the drive. It isn't perfect, but it does work.

If you've tried this approach (or a variation)

July 1, 2005
Jim Coyle:

I am currently experience a problem with OS 9 simple file find crashing when searching a Win 2003 SP1 server with 280 gig of storage.

July 1, 2005
Pekka Mäkinen of Finland isn't seeing frozen Macs but still can't search:

We are using both Mac OsX and Os 9.2 Macs connected with Windows 2003 Server. When searching files with Sherlock form Win server using Os 9.x, Macs get results we have no use. If we search for a file, the result is only a main folder in which there may be several folders and the file we
are searching is in one of those folders. Earlier when using Win 2000 Server we didn't have this kind of problem.

July 1, 2005
Bryson Arvanitis:

Recently our IT staff has switched our file server from Win 2000 to Win 2003 and now when our Mac clients go to use Sherlock to search the server volumes mapped to them, Sherlock either crashes or freezes their machines, and I have also seen the duplicate listings of the same item appear before it bombs. So I was wondering if you guys knew the problem causing this and would greatly appreciate some knowledge on how to fix it.

The hotfix

November 7, 2005
Frederic Pognant verified that the Microsoft hotfix does indeed address the problem

I had the same case when I migrated file servers using Windows NT4.0SP6/MAc Server IP to Windows 2003 Server SP1 without any add-ons for now. Searching files from Mac resulted in crashes at any time. Contacted Microsoft: they sent a hot-fix which you can't download from their sites ( a beta patch created on October 06). Works fine!

Windows files placed on AFP shares invisible to Macs

Note: a reader below offered a fix.

August 8, 2005
Randall Perry's Macs can't see files place an AFP server by Windows clients:

We're having the following problem with AFP shares since the Win 2000 Server was upgraded to Win 2003 (same problem from both 10.3 and 10.4 clients).

The shares mount fine. Reading/writing is fine. Windows users connecting to the same share via SMB can access everything.

But, if a Windows user creates or copies files or folders to the share these files/folders are invisible to the Macs. We checked properties on these files and they're set for read/write access to the group the Mac users belong to.

Also, SMB shares won't mount at all (they mounted fine under Win2k). We've tried the various fixes mentioned on to no avail.

So, right now, the only way to get files from windows to Mac is sneakernet.


August 10, 2005
Santino Rizzo

I had this problem and determined it was a problem with the macfile index. These Microsoft TechNet articles were useful. They mention Windows NT, but it still applies to W2K and W2K3. The first article describes the problem, and if you follow a series of links, you get to the second article, which gives a protocol for fixing it.

August 10, 2005
Kyle Jones toggles permissions as a workaround:

I've seen this problem on our network as well.

The only way I can get the files to appear is to reapply permissions to the folder the files are in. In Windows 2003 Server, go to the Security Tab ->Advanced. Then check and uncheck one of the permissions boxes and hit apply. Once that is done, Macs on our network can see the files.

It's annoying, but it's the only way I could get the files to be seen. If anyone knows a solution, I'm all ears.

August 10, 2005
Malcolm Fairs found that using a small volume helped, as did removing the share and reapplying:

We also had this problem after updating to Win 2003 Sever. We found that files copied from a PC were invisible to a Mac on a large volume, but that if we created a small volume and shared it as a kind of ‘drop zone’ the files showed up immediately.

We're just using this drop zone until we can find a better solution.

We also found that removing the share and re-applying it would update the Win 2003 directory database and the files would be visible. We assumed this had something to do with the Win 2003/SFM file directories not being updated properly.

August 10, 2005

We had an issue like this, apparently this is a MS issue that they know about. We had to stop the Mac share & republish. We have this problem on average about once every 2 months.

As for the disappearing mounts I have this with Win 2000 - I have several Mac shares on a machine and if I connect to one - it will be OK. If I connect to another of the shares, the Finder appears to drop the share in favour of the new one.

I say appears as if I run "ls Volumes" in the unix, it will report it as being connected. If I retry the Mac share It may come up or it may refuse (error -50) if it does come up then "ls Volumes" displays the new share as "VolumeName-1" with the old as "VolumeName" It is very annoying I shall see if I can find the confirmation of the Windows file issue.

August 10, 2005
Randall Perry, who first reported the problem, gives us an update:

I've gotten a response from the macos-x-server list from someone with same experience who claims SFM is just old and buggy and shouldn't be used.
Though, as I said below, this problem didn't occur till the Windows 2003 upgrade.

So, I'm in the process of copying the whole SFM file system down to a FW drive on the Mac, cleaning up filenames with illegal windows characters, and copying them back to an SMB share.

August 15, 2005
Julian Poyntz John

The Volume name seems to be key here to the problem. We had the symptoms described which was really frustrating until I saw the problem described on this other site (can't remember whose though !) and they implied the problem occurred with folder names. This didn't quite work for me, so I eventually renamed the volume name to be something unique (USER_DATA for example) and from then on all shares were available via AFP.

Make sure your Volume names are something obscure. I now use Server serial, then quick description 5546660k_DATA.

A solution

August 28, 2006
Craig Overboe

We moved our existing Mac shares from a Windows 2000 to a Windows 2003 server and ran into the issue. We found a resolution that worked for us. We had to create the Mac shares on the Windows 2003 Server before any files were copied to it.

What we did originally was make directories, copy files into those directories (and one we did a file restore to), then created the Mac and Windows shares. Whenever someone saved a file to this location with a PC the file wouldn't show up on the Mac. To get the Macs to see the file they had to connect with SMB.

What we did to resolve this is:

  1. Unshare the folders.
  2. Create a temporary folder on the same drive.
  3. Move the files from the old folder to the temporary folder (Windows cut/paste).
  4. Delete the old folder.
  5. Re-Create the old folder.
  6. Re-Create the share.
  7. Move (Windows cut/paste) the files back into the old folder.

We could then copy, modify, delete, etc files with the mac or pc.

As a test to our theory, we tried moving the files back into the old folder then re-creating the share and the problem was back.

This whole process takes less than 5 minutes considering Windows just changes pointers when you do a cut/paste. We had found postings of problems like this with large volumes, but this resolution doesn't seem to matter on the size of the volume considering our volume is 1 TB.

September 19, 2007
Jarran Rapsey

I recently connected a Mac client to our SBS Server 2003 network and ran into the problem where the Mac client was unable to see any new folders or files created by PC clients.

However, I have just followed Craig Overboe's fix, as posted on Aug 28, 2006, and it appears to have successfully resolved the issue - fantastic!

One extra thing to note: You need to make sure that when you create then new Mac share (i.e. point 6 of Craig's process), that you ensure that it is enabled for read/write access. We found that when we recreated the share it defaulted to read only and although we were able to see all of the files, we still couldn't modify them on the Mac client.

If you run into this problem, you need to enable read and write on the new Mac share that you created while following Crag Overboe's instructions. To enable read/write after the fact, follow these steps:

  1. On the server, click the start button and then right click My Computer and choose Manage.
  2. Once the Computer Management dialog is visible, click shared folders and then shares.
  3. Then right click on the Mac share folder that you previously created and select Properties.
  4. Unclick the 'This volume is ready only' option.

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