There are a number of ways that macs can interact with each other if they are on the same network. Given the relatively small cost of computers these days, as well as the low cost of networking hardware it has become common place that most homes have multiple computers hooked up on a network. Being an early adopter, I was sure to hook up all the computers in my house when I began college almost seven years ago now. One of the biggest pains at the time ensuring that all the machines on our network interacted properly and were able to locate each other. Now this was previous to my conversion to the Mac platform, and my OS of choice at the time was Windows 2000 (man was that a painful experience). Anyway, things have come a long way since that time, and with the recent release of Leopard (10.5) apple has made the setup process painless. In this article I will highlight just how easy it is to setup, and how easy it is to configure your machines to connect to each other and send files from machine to machine over the network. I will also put up a quick video how-to at the end of the article.

Setting Up Permission For The Systems

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It’s a fairly straight forward process for allowing people to log into your machine. Open your system preferences and go to the sharing icon. Check the file sharing box. You should now see a couple of columns one titled Shared Folders, and one titled Users. This is where you can assign people’s logins and passwords to specific locations on your hard drive. This is by no means required to connect to remote machines; however, its a great way to control what users can and can not do on your machine. Click the tumbnails to see screenshots

Finding the remote machine in the sidebar

Now comes the simple part. Leopard automatically finds other Macs on your network. Open your finder window and you will be greeted with a sidebar sections with the heading of “shared”. In this section you will find all of the machines on your network that you are able to connect to. One particular point of interest here is that you have to have file sharing turned on in your sharing section. If this is turned off the machine will not be listed in the sidebar. Here’s a quick screen shot of the sidebar.

As you can see from this screenshot I have another mac on my network. It just so happens to be my iBook. Looks like I will be able to share files across my network to that machine.

Connecting to the remote machine

So how do you connect to that machine? Well, you simple highlight the name of the computer you need in the sidebar, Viola, you’re connected… as guest. Depending on the permission setup on the remote system you will probably have limited functionality at this point. Click the “connect As…” button and a new dialog box will pop up asking you for your login information. Now you have two options at this point. You can either log in to the machine using one of the native accounts to that system, or you can log in with whatever login information you were provided with for that system. The previous, is the easiest way to connect in my opinion, but it requires that you know the login and password to the machine already. The later, on the other hand is a great way to get onto the machine with whatever log in information you want, so long as you have it set up in the first place on that machine in the sharing section of the system preferences.

Now if you are anything like me, you use the same login information for all of your machines, so I just connect without worrying about setting up permissions on all of the various Mac’s in my house. But the options yours, enjoy moving your files around on your network.


Connecting to another mac with Leopard from Joshua Schnell on Vimeo.

Joshua Schnell