Blog Post

Mac 101: Sharing Files Between Two Macs

One of the reasons I like Mac’s so much more than Window’s boxes is their outstanding networking capabilities. No matter if I need to add a network printer or share files with someone on my network, it can be done in a matter of minutes.

Setting up two Macs to network and share files can be done wirelessly or wired (if you do it wired just run a regular network cable between the two computers). The following steps are generally the same for both Leopard and Tiger users. There will be a few interface differences, so if you have any trouble just post your question in the comments.

  1. Open System Preferences on the computer that you want to share files from.
  2. Under the Internet and Network section open the “Sharing” folder.
  3. In Leopard, click the box that says “File Sharing”. In Tiger there should be a prompt stating “Personal File Sharing is Off” on the right hand side of the sharing folder. You should always turn personal file sharing off when you are not actively using it to protect your personal information. Under the prompt there should be a button that says “Start.” Click the start button.
  4. Now that you are sharing your personal files with the other Mac (and any other computer around you) can see your public folder in Username/Public. Anything you put in that folder your friend will be able to get.
  5. After your done sharing, be sure to turn file sharing off.

I often use this technique to quickly move mp3’s from my laptop to my desktop because it’s faster than ziping and uploading them to a server.

14 Responses to “Mac 101: Sharing Files Between Two Macs”

  1. Quick question when files are shared from one computer to another, for instance music in itunes, will the music that’s shared take up hard drive space on the computer/laptop on the secondary device? Or does it only take up space on original computer where it was downloaded?

  2. I’m trying to share files between my two macs at home. Both are connected to the same router through wireless.

    Can i share files between both macs without creating an internal network between macs?


  3. sorry i have never don this before i need to print some stuff from another computer and need to pull the .tif files from the other one i did exactly what mentioned above but i cant see the files how do i look for them once i did the file sharing

  4. dianne Lorenz

    Hi Scott

    I thought the same thing. When I selected my new computer’s hard drive, there was a category under Devices on the left side bar called “Shared”. I could see my old computer. Selecting it took me to the public shared folder which contains “drop box” where you can place your files to be shared. I tested it with a photo and just dragged it to my new computer’s IPhoto. Viola!

  5. Scott McVeigh

    You say “your friend will be able to get”, but you don’t say how. Sorry I don’t know this stuff so I don’t know where to begin to look for the public folder on my other mac.



  6. This method of sharing only works for me when the firewall is wide open under the security icon in system preferences. If I leave it to essential services only, the other mac will give me back an error in the finder after awhile of trying to connect. It finds the shared mac and shows it in the finder sidebar, but no folders show up in the finder window.

  7. Another method of fast file transfers is Target Disk Mode. Connect a firewire cable between the two Macs. Now, restart the Mac that has the files you want. When you hear the startup chime, hold down the T key until you see the firewire icon. That Mac will now show up as an external disk on the other Mac. Simply copy the files over at firewire speeds!