Although file sharing has come a long way, there is still no single method or service that can meet all the requirements of each and every user. So, come join us as we talk about the various ways you can transfer files between Macs, either with your own devices or with a friend’s device.
Read: 10 Ways to Share Files Between Two Windows Computers
Transfer files from Mac to Mac
1. Online services
Cloud storage services are a viable option for file sharing if you have a high-speed internet connection. These services or websites allow you to host your images, videos and all kinds of files on their servers and all your files can be accessed from anywhere in the world with a computer connected to the Internet. Cloud storage is widely used as backup solutions by many people and can even be used to share files with other people simply by sending them a link to the hosted file.
Some of the most popular cloud storage services include: Dropbox, One Drive, Y Google drive etc. They all offer free 10-15GB storage once you sign up. If you need more storage space, you should upgrade to a paid version, which generally costs $ 3-4 per month for 100GB. All of these also come with smartphone clients, making all your files accessible even from your or your friend’s phone.
If you want to share large files with your client, but don’t want to pay for a service, try pCloud. As of this writing, the trial version is limited to 20GB.
However, if the file to be sent is very small (less than 30MB), you can also consider sending it easily via email services like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.
Read: 7 Ways To Access Your Computer Files Remotely Over The Internet
- Allows sharing between two (or more) devices anywhere in the world.
- Files can be accessed as many times as desired.
- Also compatible with Windows, iOS, Android or almost anything that has a browser, including Apple TV.
- Depends on internet connection
- To share / host large files, you may need to shell out some money
Although all cloud services offer plans, most offer a free limit (different for each) that should be enough for file sharing. The cloud offers you the ability to share files with devices or people with whom it is not physically possible to be.
2. Physical devices
Physical storage devices such as pen drives, external hard drives (HDD), solid state drives (SSD) have gained popularity in recent years due to the ease of file sharing they offer. Just connect the device to the sender’s Mac, copy the files, and then connect it to the receiver’s Mac, and then copy from the device to the computer. Pen Drives are good for fast transfer of small files, HDDs are great for sharing very large files (up to 4TB) and also for backing up your computer. And if you want something more compact and much faster, SSDs will do quite well, but they come at a price compared to hard drives.
Another great thing about them is that you can also use these devices not only to share files between two Macs, but even between Windows and Android devices (using an OTG cable or adapter).
However, if connecting a hard drive is too much work for you, consider getting a Wi-Fi drive like this one from ScanDisk. They cost more than the physical hard drive and offer less storage, but they come with the convenience of accessing those files over the network.
Quick Tip: Before using the same hard drive with MacOS and Windows, make sure to format it in exFAT or FAT32, as Windows’ default NTFS is read-only on MacOS and could cause problems.
Read: How to Format Hard Drives
- Very easy and minimal steps are required for its use
- Choose accordingly from a wide variety of sizes (from 4GB to 4TB)
- Conveniently portable to carry around
- Physical devices, so susceptible to damage or data loss
Physical storage devices are better than cloud services for storing or transferring large amounts of files as they offer better value for money and even work without an internet connection and are portable to go. Keep in mind, however, that they still need to be physically delivered to the recipient, which shouldn’t be a problem if you share with yourself or a friend at school or work.
3. File sharing
Of course, most were aware of the above two ways, but very few are aware of the Mac OS built-in File Sharing System. File sharing, which uses SMB, is one of the most efficient and fastest ways to transfer files between two Macs on the same network.
Read: How to Access Your Computer Files From Anywhere with TeamViewer
But first, you need to turn on file sharing on the Mac you want to access data from. Go
System Preferences> Sharing. Light File sharing clicking on the radio button next to it.
Under “Shared folders“, Delete or add the folders you want to share and under”Users”, You can manage the access rights of multiple users. Make sure the icon is green and says “File Sharing: Enabled“And below it should be the address of your device that starts with” smb: // “which in my case is:” smb: // anurags-mbp “
Now on the other device, go to Finder> Go> Connect to server
And write the address of the smb. Next, there should be a pop-up asking you which folder you want to open. Select the required folder and enter the username and password of the host computer user and you are good to go.
Quick tip: For the fastest transfer speeds, we recommend connecting both devices to the network via cables.
Also, if you want to share with Windows computers, go to Options and turn on afp along with smb.
- Very fast transfer speeds
- You can control the rights of each user
- Devices must be on the same network
If you want to transfer files between your own computers or a friend’s computer connected to the same network, File Sharing offers faster transfer speeds and even offers access rights management for different clients.
4. Using cables
Most newer Macs come with Thunderbolt ports that offer incredible bandwidth, but did you know that you can only use them for file transfers? There are two ways to do it: Target Disk Mode or Thunderbolt Bridge.
Target disk mode allows you to access the entire hard drive of one Mac from another Mac, allowing you to copy files to and from the target device. Using all the lanes of the Thunderbolt cable, you get the fastest speeds and this method is highly recommended for moving large files, which is done in a jiffy.
To use target disk mode, on the target machine, which is the machine whose hard drive you want to access, connect both macs with FireWire or Thunderbolt cable. You can buy it on Amazon for $ 20 (the Apple store sells it for a higher price). Then go to System Preferences> Startup Disk> Target Disk Mode. This should darken the screen and show a Thunderbolt icon, after which you can connect the two devices with a Thunderbolt cable and the target machine’s hard drive should appear under “Devices ”in Finder.
Using a Thunderbolt bridge it’s also very similar except both machines stay powered on and you can use both Macs while the file transfer is taking place.
To use Thunderbolt Bridge, you must enable it on both devices. Go System Preferences> Network> Click Add (+)> Select Thunderbolt Bridge
Note: You may already have Thunderbolt Bridge enabled. In that case, you don’t need to do anything.
Connect the two Macs via the Thunderbolt cable and you should see the change “Not connected” to “Self-assigned IP”. Once done, make a note of the IP address and go to Finder> Go> Connect to server. And enter the IP address after which is the same as File Sharing.
Quick Tip: If you’re using an older Mac that doesn’t have Thunderbolt, you can use Ethernet cables (they will work with an Ethernet adapter too) to achieve similar transfer speeds.
- Faster transfer speeds
- Suitable for moving large files
- The distance between the two Macs depends on the length of the Thunderbolt cable connecting them, which is generally very short.
- Newer Macbooks only come with a USB Type-C port, so you’ll have to invest more in an adapter.
This is the only fast and convenient way to transfer huge files, such as video and game files, from one Mac to another. However, since they must be connected with a single cable, the machines must be physically close to each other; this might not be a problem if one is a MacBook, but it can be problematic to do with two iMacs in different rooms.
AirDrop could be the easiest and most convenient way to share files between two Macs and even iPhones. Basically it uses WiFi and Bluetooth to connect and transfer files between the devices.
What makes AirDrop so great is the fact that it is so simple and idiot-proof; just open AirDrop from Finder on both of your Macs and wait for the other person’s device to appear. Once you can see your device, just drag and drop the files you want to send onto your avatar / icon and Bam! File transferred! There may even be multiple devices, just drag the corresponding file to the right person, that’s all you need! It is incredibly fast for small files like images and text files, however for much larger files it takes a bit of time.
Read: Best Airdrop Alternatives for Android, iOS, and Windows
- No setup or anything extra required
- Idiot-proof and convenient
- Computers must be close by and connected to some WiFi network (not necessarily the same one), or else AirDrop won’t work.
If you can use AirDrop, that is, the other Mac is nearby, then you should use AirDrop as it provides the easiest file sharing experience between two Macs.
Conclusion: transfer files from Mac to Mac
If the two Macs are close to each other and the file to be transferred is relatively small, AirDrop is your best option. However, for larger files, Thunderbolt cables or file sharing seem to do the job perfectly. And if the two machines are not close together, physical storage devices can be used to transport files from one Mac to another and for even greater distances, online services are the way to go.
So these were our five ways to transfer files from Mac to Mac. Did we miss something? Do you have any doubt? Let us in the comments below.