Transitioning from AppleTalk-based to IP-based services

Dave Schroeder's guide to transitioning from appletalk to IP.

With the rollout of the University's new backbone network, many changes are being made to increase reliability and performance and ease administration. One of these changes will be a transition to an IP-only backbone network infrastructure. This means that only IP traffic will be passed through the backbone routers. Other non-IP traffic, such as AppleTalk and Novell IPX, will no longer be handled.

What does this mean for Macintosh users?

The areas this is likely to affect Macintosh users are connecting to other computers, such as file servers, and connecting to printers. Once AppleTalk stops being handled by the backbone network, familiar AppleTalk services, such as AppleTalk zones, will no longer be available. You will also not be able to connect to servers or printers across campus (across backbone routers) via AppleTalk. However, you will not be prevented from connecting to AppleTalk devices, such as printers or servers, on your local network. The only likely change for most users may be reselecting printers or recreating aliases to servers. Still, this is a good opportunity to switch to IP based services where possible, which allow even more flexibility and performance than AppleTalk. Additionally, transitioning to IP for these tasks will allow connecting in ways that may not have been possible before, such as connecting to these services from home or off campus.

Before you can start accessing services via IP, some preparation needs to take place. All computers on the network have an IP address, but it is not necessarily an unchanging one. In order to guarantee that you are able to connect to a remote computer via IP at all times, it will need to be assigned a fixed IP address. This ensures that the IP address associated with the computer will not change. Also, a name can be assigned to IP addresses to make them easier to remember. For example, instead of remembering an address like, a name such as "" could be assigned to the address. Names in the form of <computername>.<department> can be assigned to any computer on the network; either the name or the number can be used to connect. The network administrator will need to assist with these tasks. If you connect to a server or other remote computer frequently, making aliases to remote server volume, or adding the server to your Favorites, can also assist in connecting to them. Printers will typically already have fixed IP addresses, and only need to be set up on your computer once.

Connecting to other computers

In the past several years, Mac OS has developed the capability to connect to other computers - and be connected to - via IP. In fact, often the only task that still uses AppleTalk in this process is the act of browsing for the server using the Chooser (classic Mac OS) or Connect to Server (Mac OS X). Mac OS 8 and newer (or AppleShare Client 1.7 and newer) supports connecting to other Macintosh computers via IP, and Mac OS 9 or newer supports being connected to via IP. When you connect to another computer using the Chooser or Connect to Server, the Macintosh automatically makes the connection via IP when appropriate.

Connecting to file servers

Connecting to file servers is very similar to connecting to other computers, but, instead of being other Macs, may be a Novell NetWare or Microsoft Windows file server. Depending on the file server's operating system, there may be a variety of solutions. See the table below for more information.

Connecting to printers

This may be one of the biggest uses for AppleTalk. Many smaller Apple brand or older HP network-connected laser printers are in use on campus. The vast majority of these are connected to via AppleTalk. If these are located on your local network, no changes may need to be made. Larger departmental laser printers may also be connected to via AppleTalk, but are often assigned IP addresses by the network administrator. When possible, it's recommended to use IP to connect to these printers rather than AppleTalk. See the table below for how to connect.

If you connect to...

Becoming IP ready

Finding the IP address

How to connect

AppleShare file servers
or other Macintosh computers

All versions of Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server are IP ready

All versions of Mac OS 8.x and 9.x are IP ready

All versions of AppleShare Server 5.x and newer are IP ready

For a file server:

Ask your network administrator

For another Macintosh running Mac OS X:

Go to the Sharing System Preferences pane, click Personal File Sharing. The address is listed near the bottom "Other Macintosh users can access your computer at..." (the "afp://" portion is not required).

For another Macintosh running Mac OS 8.x or 9.x:

Go to the File Sharing control panel. In the file sharing section, ensure "Enable File Sharing clients to connect over TCP/IP" is check. The address is listed after "URL:" (the "afp://" portion is not required).

Mac OS X:

  1. Select Connect to Server... under the Go menu
  2. Type the IP address (e.g. or the name (e.g. in the Address field
  3. Log in to the server

...or, for other Mac OS X machines on your local network using Rendevous:

  1. Select Connect to Server... under the Go menu
  2. Click Browse (if running Mac OS X 10.3.x or newer)
  3. Find local machines by name (may be located under Local)

Mac OS 8.x and 9.x

  1. Select Chooser under the Apple menu
  2. Click the AppleShare icon
  3. Click the Server IP Address... button
  4. Type the IP address or the name when prompted
  5. Log in to the server

Novell NetWare file servers

Novell NetWare 5.1 with the Native File Access Pack and NetWare 6 allow Mac clients to connect natively via AppleShare IP

An IP based NetWare client is also available for Mac OS X from Prosoft Engineering

Ask your network administrator

Microsoft Windows file servers

Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 Services for Macintosh allow Mac clients to connect natively via AppleShare IP

An AppleShare User Authentication Module (UAM) that provices secure authentication to Windows servers is also available from Microsoft

Ask your network administrator

Microsoft Windows computers via SMB

Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows XP support client connections using Server Message Block (SMB) protocol over IP, a standard Windows file sharing method

Ask your network administrator

Mac OS X:

  1. Select Connect to Server... under the Go menu
  2. Type "smb://", then the IP address (e.g. or the name (e.g. in the Address field
  3. Log in to the server


Most newer network connected workgroup printers support being assigned an IP address. Many departmental and workgroup printers on campus already have an IP address.

Some older Apple and HP personal laser printers may not be able to have IP addresses, but will still be able to be accessed via AppleTalk on your local network.

Ask your network administrator

Mac OS X:

  1. Open Printer Setup Utility (formerly Print Center) in /Applications/Utilities
  2. Click Add
  3. Select IP Printing (or LPR Printers using IP) from the popup menu
  4. Type the IP address or name of the printer in the Printer's Address field
  5. Enter the queue name if required by your network administrator
  6. If applicable, select the printer model from the list
  7. Click Add

...or, for newer printers on your local network that support Rendevous:

  1. Open Printer Setup Utility (formerly Print Center) in /Applications/Utilities
  2. Click Add
  3. Select Rendezvous from the popup menu
  4. Select the appropriate printer from the list

Mac OS 8.x and 9.x

  1. Open Desktop Printer Utility
  2. Select Printer (LPR)
  3. In the "Printer Description File" section, click Change and select the printer model if appropriate
  4. In the LPR Printer Selection section, click Change
  5. Type the IP address or name of the printer in the Printer Address field
  6. Enter the queue name if required by your network administrator
  7. Click OK
  8. Click Create

What will replace the AppleTalk ease of use?

The beauty of AppleTalk was that most devices, especially printers, could be plugged in and "just work" - with no network configuration whatsoever. The user also would not have to know an IP address; the service could be found by simply browsing through a list in the Chooser. While AppleTalk was certainly easy to use, it's another network protocol that needs to be maintained by administrators. And even though most services can now be connected to via IP, Apple realized there is a void left unfilled as institutions make the transition to IP only networks. Apple's answer is Rendezvous, an IP based method that allows devices such as printers and other computers to discover one another without configuration. Mac OS X 10.2 and newer leverages Rendezvous, as will many new printers and other devices from various vendors. Rendezvous-capable devices will automatically locate and discover one another without any configuration or knowledge of device IP addresses required. Rendezvous technology is based on Zeroconf and Multicast DNS. In addition to Rendezvous, Mac OS X also uses Service Location Protocol (SLP) to locate other computers on the local network.

Going forward, the transition to an IP only network will increase performance, reliability, and flexibility of the network for all users.

Questions? Concerns?

If you have any problems or questions, contact the DoIT Help Desk at (608) 264-HELP (4357) or for assistance.

Document created by Dave Schroeder of DoIT ( 12/01/2004.

Keywords:appletalk appla macintosh   Doc ID:3635
Owner:Michael H.Group:Network Services
Created:2005-04-10 19:00 CDTUpdated:2017-08-08 14:10 CDT
Sites:Network Services, Systems & Network Control Center
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