Share files, folders, and other services

You can set up your Mac to share files, folders, and other services with users on your network. You can also share your screen, or share a printer connected to your Mac.

Use the information on this page to help you choose which services to share, and whom to share with.

DVD or CD sharing

If you install the DVD or CD Sharing Setup software, users of other computers should be able to access your DVD or CD drive. This can be helpful if the other computer doesn’t have an optical drive, or if you want to provide access to your optical drive to other computers on your Ethernet or wireless network.

Share your optical drive with another computer

You can share discs in your computer’s DVD drive with other computers on your network.

  • Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Sharing), then select the DVD or CD Sharing checkbox.

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  • To be notified when a computer tries to access your optical drive, select “Ask me before allowing others to use my DVD drive.”

Screen sharing

You can let others see what’s on your screen; open, move, and close files and windows; open apps; and even restart your Mac.

Screen Sharing pref pane

You can let others view your computer screen on their own Mac. While your screen is being shared, the user of the other Mac sees what’s on your screen and can open, move, and close files and windows, open apps, and even restart your Mac.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select the Screen Sharing checkbox.

    If Remote Management is selected, you must deselect it before you can select Screen Sharing.

  3. To specify who can share your screen, select one of the following:

    • All users: Anyone with a user account on your Mac can share your screen.

    • Only these users: Screen sharing is restricted to specific users.

  4. If you selected “Only these users,” click Add  at the bottom of the users list, then do one of the following:

    • Select a user from Users & Groups, which includes all the users of your Mac.

    • Select a user from Network Users or Network Groups, which includes everyone on your network.

  5. To let others share your screen without having a user account on your Mac, click Computer Settings, then select one or both of the following:

    • Anyone may request permission to control screen: Before other computer users begin screen sharing your Mac, they can ask for permission instead of entering a user name and password.

    • VNC viewers may control screen with password: Other users can share your screen using a VNC viewer app—on iPad or a Windows PC, for example—by entering the password you specify here.

    If this computer’s screen is shared only by other OS X users, turn off these options and add accounts for the other users.

File sharing

You can share files with other Mac computers:

Share your Mac with everyone, or restrict the sharing service to allow specific users access to only certain folders.

File Sharing pref pane

You can share files and folders with others on your network. You can share your entire Mac with everyone, or allow specific users access to only certain folders.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select the File Sharing checkbox.

  3. To select a specific folder to share, click Add  at the bottom of the Shared Folders list, locate the folder, select it, then click Add.

    The Public folder of each user with an account on your Mac is shared automatically. To prevent a folder from being shared, select it in the Shared Folders list and click Delete .

  4. By default, any user set up on your Mac in Users & Groups preferences can connect to your Mac over the network. A user with an administrator account can access your entire Mac.

    To give only specific users access to a folder, select the folder in the Shared Folders list, then click Add  at the bottom of the Users list. Then do one of the following:

    • Select a user from Users & Groups, which includes all the users of your Mac.

    • Select a user from Network Users or Network Groups, which includes everyone on your network.

    • Select a person from your contacts. Create a password for the person, then click Create Account.

  5. To specify the amount of access for a user, select the user in the Users list, click the triangles next to the user name, then choose one of the following:

    • Read & Write: The user can see and copy files to and from the folder.

    • Read Only: The user can view the contents of the folder but can’t copy files to it.

    • Write Only (Drop Box): The user can copy files to the folder but can’t view its contents.

    • No Access: The user can’t see or copy files from the folder.

  6. OS X allows guests to access shared folders on your Mac. To turn off guest access, deselect “Allow guests to connect to shared folders” in the Guest Account pane of User & Groups preferences.

Open Users & Groups preferences for me

Printer sharing

If you have a printer connected to your Mac, you can let others on your network use it.

Printer Sharing prefs

You can share your printer with another Mac or with a UNIX computer. The computers must be on the same local network as your Mac, and the Mac users must have Mac OS X v10.4 or later.

Printer sharing is for non-network or non-wireless printers that typically are plugged in directly to your computer. You don’t need to share network, wireless, or AirPrint compatible printers because they are already shared on your network.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences and click Sharing), then select the Printer Sharing checkbox.

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Below Printers, select the printer you want to share.

    When you share a printer, all users on your network (“Everyone”) can use it by default. If you want to restrict access to specific people, continue with steps 3 and 4.

  3. Click Add  at the bottom of the Users list, then do any of the following:

    • Select a user from Users & Groups, which includes all the users of your Mac.

    • Select a user from Network Users or Network Groups, which includes everyone on your network.

    • Select a person from your contacts. Create a password for the person, then click Create Account.

  4. When you add people to the Users list, access to the shared printer is reset to No Access for users on your network (“Everyone”). To provide access to Everyone again, click the triangles, then choose Can Print.

To remove a user, select the name, then click Remove . You can’t remove Everyone.

Remote login

If you allow remote login, you can use Secure Shell (SSH) to log in to your Mac from another location.

Remote login pref pane

If you allow remote login, you can use Secure Shell (SSH) to log in to your Mac from another computer.

You can’t use Telnet to log in to your Mac.

Set up Remote Login

  1. On your Mac, open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select Remote Login.

    Selecting Remote Login also enables the secure FTP (sftp) service.

  3. Specify which users can log in:

    • All users: Any of your computer’s users and anyone on your network can log in.

    • Only these users: Click Add , then choose who can log in remotely. Users & Groups include all the users of your Mac; Network Users and Network Groups include people on your network.

Log in from another computer

To log in from another computer, open Terminal (or another SSH app) on that computer, then type:

ssh username@IP address

For example, if your user name is steve, and your computer’s IP address is 10.1.2.3, open Terminal on the other Mac and type:

ssh steve@10.1.2.3

Don’t know your user name and the IP address for your Mac? It’s easy to find them. Open the Remote Login pane of Sharing preferences; your user name and IP address are shown below the “Remote Login: On” indicator.

Open the Remote Login pane of Sharing preferences for me

Allowing remote login to your Mac can make it less secure. For more information about keeping your Mac secure, see Protect your Mac.

For more information about using the ssh command, type “man ssh” at a Terminal shell prompt.

man page for ssh

Remote Management

If your Mac is remotely managed using Apple Remote Desktop, turn on remote management in Sharing preferences.

Remote Management pref pane

If you are sharing your screen and Mac using Remote Desktop, use Remote Management instead of Screen Sharing in Sharing preferences.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing), then select the Remote Management checkbox.

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Select “All users” to let all users on your network connect to your Mac using Apple Remote Desktop.

    • Select “Only these users,” click Add , then select the users who can share your Mac using Apple Remote Desktop.

  3. Click Options, then select the tasks remote users are permitted to perform.

  4. Click Computer Settings, then select options for your Mac. If people connect using a VNC viewer, you need to set a password.

Apple Remote Desktop is available from the App Store. For help setting up and using Apple Remote Desktop, see Remote Desktop Help.

Open App Store for me

Remote Desktop Help

Remote Apple events

Set your Mac to respond to events sent from other computers on a network.

Remote Apple Events pref pane

Your Mac can accept Apple events from apps running on other computers. An Apple event is a task being performed on a Mac, such as “open this document” or “print.”

With remote Apple events turned on, an AppleScript program running on another Mac can interact with your Mac. For example, the program could open and print a document that’s located on your Mac.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select the Remote Apple Events checkbox.

  3. Specify who can send events:

    • All users: Any of your computer’s users and anyone on your network can send events.

    • Only these users: Click Add , then choose who can send events. Users & Groups include all the users of your computer; Network Users and Network Groups include people on your network.

For more information about AppleScript, see the AppleScript website.

Internet sharing

Share your Internet connection with other computers on your local network.

Internet Sharing pref pane

You can share your Internet connection with other users on your local network.

  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select the Internet Sharing checkbox.

  3. Click the “Share your connection from” pop-up menu, then choose the Internet connection you want to share. For example, if you’re connected to the Internet over Ethernet, choose Ethernet.

  4. Select how you want to share your Internet connection in the “To computers using” list. For example, if you want to share your Internet connection over Wi-Fi, select Wi-Fi.

    If you share your Internet connection using Wi-Fi, deselect the Internet Sharing checkbox, click Wi-Fi Options, give your network a name and password, then select the Internet Sharing checkbox again.

If your Internet connection and your local network use the same port (Ethernet, for example), investigate possible side effects before you turn on Internet sharing. In some cases, sharing your Internet connection disrupts the network. If you use a cable modem, for example, you might unintentionally affect the network settings of other ISP customers, and your ISP might terminate your service.

Bluetooth sharing

If your Mac is Bluetooth enabled or you have a Bluetooth USB adapter connected to your Mac, you can share files with other Bluetooth enabled computers and devices.

Bluetooth Sharing pref pane
  1. Open Sharing preferences if it isn’t already open (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sharing).

    Open Sharing preferences for me

  2. Select the Bluetooth Sharing checkbox and set the following options:

    • When receiving items: Choose Accept and Save to save all items sent to your Mac; choose Accept and Open to open the items; or choose “Ask what to do” to decide what to do each time a file is sent. If you don’t want to accept any items sent to your Mac, choose Never Allow.

    • Folder for accepted items: Choose the folder in which you want to store accepted files. The default folder is the Downloads folder. Choose Other to select a different folder.

    • When other devices browse: Choose Always Allow to let devices browse your Mac, or choose Ask What to Do to manually decide what to do each time a device tries to browse your Mac. If you don’t want other devices to browse your Mac, choose Never Allow.

    • Folders others can browse: Choose the folder on your Mac that other devices can browse. The default folder is the Public folder. Choose Other to select a different folder.

To set options for what happens when others try to send you files or browse your Mac using Bluetooth, open Bluetooth File Exchange, then choose Help > Bluetooth Help.

Open Bluetooth File Exchange for me

Share the contents of the Clipboard with another Mac

Transfer information between the Clipboards of the two computers

When you’re sharing one computer’s screen with another computer, you can transfer information between the Clipboards of the two computers. For example, you can:

  • Copy text and images from documents on one Mac and paste them into documents on the other.

  • Select and drag text and images from one Mac to the other.

  • Copy a link from your web browser and paste it into a web browser on the other Mac.

  • Copy text from a document on one Mac and drop it on the desktop of the other Mac to create a clipping.

  1. Start a screen sharing session with a Mac on your network. See Share the screen of another Mac.

  2. Choose Edit  > Use Shared Clipboard.