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Setting the SMB/Netbios name of your Mac

Posted by jpluimers on 2015/03/30

Even after changing the name of your Mac, from the Windows side it still looks like this:

I knew I had solved this in the past, as the MacBook Air showed up correctly in the list:

The trick is that there are 2 names for your Mac: the name for the Apple side of things, and the name for the Windows side of things. For the latter you’d think it would be named SMB or NetBIOS.

Options allow you to choose the accounts with file sharing access and enable SMB/AFP, but not setting the SMB machine name.

Options allow you to choose the accounts with file sharing access and enable SMB/AFP, but not setting the SMB machine name.

You’d think that after enabling File Sharing, the Options would not only allow you to enable SMB file sharing, but also allow you to change the SMB name for your Mac, but it doesn’t.

What you have to do is change the WINS name for your Mac. The frustrating thing is that you cannot find the WINS or NetBIOS option using Spotlight: those are not indexed, but SMB is (and leads you to the dialog on the right). How confusing!

The path to the WINS options goes through the Network Preferences (via either System Preferences in the Apple menu, or Spotlight or the Open Network Preferences in the Wi-Fi menu).

For the first step does not matter which connection you choose: any connection will work as the NetBIOS name in the WINS setting is a global setting for the whole machine (so it is not specific for each connection: that’s why I used the screenshot while using my Nexus 4 bluetooth connection), so here are the steps:

  1. Select the network service you want to set up to use a WINS server, such as Ethernet or Wi-Fi.
  2. Click Advanced, and then click WINS.
  3. Enter the NetBIOS name you received from your network administrator.
  4. Optionally: Choose the workgroup you want to use from the pop-up menu.
  5. Optionally: Click Add (+), and then enter the IP address of the WINS server. Check with your network administrator if you don’t know the address.
  6. Click OK, and then click Apply to make the settings active for that network service.
Setting the WINS NetBIOS name

Setting the WINS NetBIOS name

The fun is: after changing the WINS name, the SMB name caching for a while shows your Mac as having a split personality:

–jeroen

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