Share Files Between Macs

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Here's a task that, on the face of it at least, should be very simple. You have a Windows PC and a Mac, and you need to transfer files from one of the devices to the other. How do you go about doing it?

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.

It looks like a no-brainer – you simply pick up your trusty USB flash drive, copy the data from one machine, and paste it on the other. If you need to do this many times on a daily basis, however, you'll find out that you're losing a lot of time, especially if the volume of information that needs to be transferred is significant. The truth is, there are much more efficient ways of sharing files between devices.

  1. By far the fastest and simplest way to share files between two Macs is AirDrop.
  2. Set up file sharing On your Mac, choose Apple menu System Preferences, then click Sharing. Open Sharing preferences for me Select the File Sharing checkbox. To select a specific folder to share, click the Add button at the bottom of the Shared Folders list.

Transferring files between a Mac and a PC that are on the same network

Both macOS and Windows have built-in tools that let you share files with other devices on the same network. Some of you might be a bit apprehensive about using them at first, but once you get the hang of them, you'll see that there's nothing too complicated.

First, let's see how you can share data that is stored on a Mac with a Windows computer. The steps are:

  1. Open System Preferences on your Mac and go to Sharing
  2. Select File Sharing from the menu on the left
  3. Click the Options button and make sure that the Share files and folders using SMB and Share files and folders using AFP boxes are selected
  4. Select the box next to your account in the Windows File Sharing section to ensure that your files will be accessible from your Windows machine and enter your Mac password to confirm your selection
  5. Click Done and use the + and - buttons under the Shared Folders box in order to choose which folders you'd like to share

All you need to access the shared files now is the local IP address of your Mac, which is visible in the System Preferences >Sharing window. On your Windows PC, you need to open a File Explorer window and type '//' followed by the local IP of your Mac. You will be prompted for the username and password for your Mac, and after you provide them, you will be able to access the files.

Although Apple prides itself in its devices' user-friendliness, the process of sharing files on Windows isn't exactly complicated, either. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Settings app (you can do it by pressing Win+i) and navigate to Network & Internet >Status
  2. Go to Network and Sharing Center and then click Change advanced sharing settings
  3. Make sure that the Turn on network discovery and Turn on file and printer sharing buttons are selected
  4. Click Save changes to apply the changes

With that, you're ready to start sharing data with other devices on your network. Simply go to the file or folder your want to share, right-click on it, and go to Properties >Sharing. Click the Share button in the Network File and Folder Sharing section and confirm that you want to share the data.

Once again, in order to access your Windows PC data from a Mac, you need to know the Windows machine's local IP. You can find it by going to Settings >Network & Internet >Status >Properties. When you have it, you need to open a Finder window on your Mac and go to Go >Connect to server. In the field, you need to write 'smb://' followed by the local IP of your Windows PC. When you click Connect, you will be asked for your Windows username and password, and after that, you'll see all the Windows files and folders you've shared on your Mac.

As you can see, there are a few steps involved, but after the initial setup, your computers will store things like the local IPs of the other machine, and the whole process will be much smoother. There's only one problem with this method – it's useless if your computers are not on the same network.

Transferring files between a Mac and a PC that are not on the same network

The built-in tools Windows and macOS offer are great for sharing data between devices on the same network, but for a variety of reasons, Microsoft and Apple won't adapt them to be used for transferring files across larger distances.


Share Files Between Macs

Nevertheless, you're not unlikely to find yourself in a position where you need to move information between Windows and Mac computers that are connected to different networks. You can again reach for your USB thumb drive. This time, in addition to waiting for the data to be transferred, you'll also need to carry the storage device around and, crucially, ensure you don't lose it. Once again, there is a better alternative.

By utilizing a cloud storage platform, you can ensure that your data is stored and accessible at any time from anywhere in the world. With it, you will be able to transfer files across devices quickly, and you'll likely find it easier to set up compared to Windows and macOS' file sharing features. There are so many cloud storage services out there, however, that choosing the right one might be more difficult than you think. There are some things you need to consider when you're running through the options.

If you're going to share data between Windows and Mac computers, you need to ensure that the app you choose supports both operating systems. Having the data accessible through a browser is an advantage, especially if you're going to juggle the files through multiple different devices.

You should also be sure to check whether the storage space the platform offers is sufficient for your needs. Scalability is important, as well. You never know when you're going to require more space for your files.

Last but not least, you need to consider the budget you've set for this type of service. Generally speaking, cloud storage is a lot more affordable now than it used to be, but you can still shop around for a bargain.

While you're at it, you might want to consider Cyclonis Backup. It's a backup utility that lets you encrypt and securely store your data, but because it's available for both Mac and PC, and because it stores your data in an encrypted format in the cloud, it's also perfect for transferring files between different devices. To learn more about it, click here.


Deep in macOS System Preferences, there are options that allow you to share files and folders on your Mac with other computers on your network. If you need and use file sharing, you’ll be very well aware of it and probably wonder how you would survive without it. If you don’t use it, you may not even know it exists. However, even these days where it seems almost everything is synced with the cloud, sharing files directly between computers on a network can be very useful. Sometimes, though, file-sharing goes wrong and doesn’t work. Here’s what to do when that happens.

What is file sharing on Mac?

File sharing allows you to share files and folders on your Mac with other Macs or Windows PCs on your network. On older Macs, you can choose whether to enable sharing using Apple’s proprietary file sharing protocol, AFP, or the standard protocol SMB. On newer Macs, you must use SMB. You can also choose whether or not to allow Windows PCs to connect to your Mac.

By default, when you turn on file sharing, the Public user folders for all accounts on your Mac are available for sharing. You can then add more files and folders to make them available from other computers on the network. You can set permissions for specific users, groups, or everyone and dictate whether they are allowed to read, read and write, or are blocked from accessing files.

When you first set it up, the list of users who can access shared files includes only those users created in the Users & Groups pane in System Preferences. However, you can add anyone who is stored in the Contacts app on your Mac.

Once you have added a user and set their permissions, they will be able to access the files and folders you’ve enabled for them from any Mac or, if you’ve set it up, Windows PC on your network.

If you plan to share all the files on your Mac across a network, you may want to prune the files stored on it first by getting rid of junk files you don’t need. That way, you’re not sharing those junk files over the network. The easiest way to do that is to use CleanMyMac X’s System Junk tool. It scans your Mac looking for junk and, once it’s identified it, allows you to get rid of it with the press of a button. System Junk identifies user cache, system cache files, language files, logs and other files you probably don’t need and don’t want to share. You can download it for free here.

What to do when Mac file sharing is not working

There are a number of reasons why file-sharing might not work. We’ve set out several scenarios below, along with possible fixes.

1. Shared folder or server doesn’t appear in Finder

If you expect a server or Mac you’re connected to to appear in the sidebar of a Finder window and it doesn’t, do the following:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Choose the Finder menu, then Preferences.
  3. Select sidebar.
  4. Make sure Bonjour computers and Connected servers are checked.
  5. If you want to see a server you’re connected to appear on the desktop, click General and choose Connected servers.

2. You can’t log in to a shared computer

Transferring Files Between Macs

You will need to speak to the administrator and ask them to check that you can be given access to the computer and the files and folders you want to access. If you are the administrator, do the following.

  1. Launch System Preferences and select the Sharing pane.
  2. Make sure File Sharing is checked.
  3. Ensure the folder you want to access is in the list of shared folders. If not, press the ‘+’ and add it.
  4. Is your username in the list of Users? If not, press ‘+’ and add it, then type in a password.

3. You’re denied permission to access a folder

As we explained above, file sharing on the Mac is built on Unix, which uses a system of permissions. If you can’t access the file or folder you need, it’s likely a permissions issue. Files in a shared folder don’t automatically inherit the same permissions as the folder. To apply permissions granted to a folder to all the files in it, right-click on the folder in System Preferences > Sharing and choose ‘Apply Permissions to Enclosed Items’.

To set permissions for a shared folder, select it in the ‘Shared Folders’ panel in the Sharing pane of System Preferences, then click your username in the right-hand panel and click the arrows to choose permissions.

Share Files Between Mac And Windows 10

Mac os share folder

File Sharing Network

If you’re trying to connect from a Windows PC, click Options in the main Sharing window, check the account's name that houses the file or folder you want to share, and press Done.

Share Files Between Mac And Windows

File sharing on Mac is a handy tool if you have multiple Macs or Macs and PCs on a network. Most of the time, once it’s set up, it just works. Occasionally, however, it goes wrong, and you either can’t connect to a Mac on the network or can’t access the folder you need. If that happens to you, follow the steps above, and file-sharing will be working properly again in no time.