Despite new cross-platformnetworking features built in to Mac OS X and Windows NT, Mac users have not been equal citizens on a Windows-based network until now. Thursby Software’s Dave 3.1 lets you share files and printers over a Windows network more easily than ever, making this version an indispensable tool.
Updated for OS X, Dave 3.1 goes beyond simple Aquafication to add new features such as a more intuitive configuration interface and live access to Windows resources, as well as support for long file names and for sharing files larger than 2GB.
Hop on a Windows Network
Dave 3.1 has a setup wizard that helps you configure access to shared PC resources, including Microsoft networks, and a drag-and-drop interface on the Mac side for sharing folders with Windows users. To share a Mac folder or printer, just open the Dave Sharing pane (in OS X’s System Preferences), drag the folder you want to share into the main window, and set access permissions.
Share Some Printers
Printer sharing is much improved in Dave 3.1. In addition to drag-and-drop support for sharing Mac printers with PCs using the same interface as Dave’s file-sharing components, this version of Dave–when running on OS X–adds support for sharing Mac ink-jet printers with PCs (to its existing support for PostScript printer sharing under OS 8 and OS 9). PC users simply set up the shared printer using the Add Printer command, as they would set up any networked printer.
A big downside for some users is that under OS X, Dave doesn’t let Macs access PC printers, though this feature is available under OS 9 and earlier. Thursby says the structure of OS X limits this feature, but a forthcoming maintenance release of Dave will add support for sharing PC-based PostScript printers.
Share Some Files
Giving PC users access to shared Mac folders is as easy as dragging them into a window. From a PC, a Mac (with its contents) is just another item in the Network Neighborhood. From an OS 8 or OS 9 Mac, shared PC resources appear in the Chooser and require a few clicks to mount for the first time, as was the case in previous versions of Dave; however, now you can ease this process by creating aliases to PC volumes.
Running in OS X, Dave adds the Dave Network item to the Connect To Server window, allowing you to browse a list of PCs and workgroups currently on the network.
Criticism of previous Dave versions frequently concerned the program’s clunky interface–many dialog boxes were not modal–and complex configuration. The addition of a setup wizard has eliminated the need for most Dave users to learn Windows terminology. Furthermore, the ability to view and connect to live, shared PC resources makes Dave a snap to use on a daily basis.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
At $149, Dave 3.1 may be a tough sell in a budget-conscious company, especially if retaining or acquiring a Mac is already a source of conflict. But if your office network is dominated by Windows servers and you need to use a Mac to exchange files, this product is a must-have. Because there’s no need to make modifications to a PC network or its clients to use Dave, the program provides a hassle-free way for Mac users to keep their office Macs, without any intervention from a company’s IT department.