5 Ways to Transfer Files From Mac to Mac.
Even though file sharing has come a long way, there is still no single method or service that can satisfy every user’s needs. So let’s talk about the different ways to transfer files between Macs, whether it’s your own devices or a friend’s.
Read: 10 Ways to Share Files Between Two Windows Computers
Transfer files from Mac to Mac
1. Online services
Cloud storage is a great file sharing option if you have a high speed internet connection. These services or websites allow you to host your images, videos and all types of files on their servers, and all your files can be accessed from anywhere in the world using a computer connected to the Internet. Cloud storage is widely used by many people as backup solutions and they can even be used to share files with other people by simply sending them a link to the hosted file.
Some of the popular cloud storage services include Dropbox, One Drive and Google Drive, etc. They all offer 10-15GB of free storage after signup. If you need more storage space, you need to upgrade to the paid version, which usually costs $ 3-4 per month for 100GB. They all also come with smartphone clients, making all your files accessible even from your or a friend’s phone.
If you want to share large files with a client but don’t want to pay for the service, try pCloud. At the time of this writing, the trial limit is 20GB.
However, if the file you are sending is very small (less than 30MB), you might also want to consider simply sending it via email services like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.
Read: 7 Ways to Remotely Access Your Computer’s Files Over the Internet
- Allows the exchange of data between two (or more) devices anywhere in the world.
- Files can be accessed as many times as you want.
- Also compatible with Windows, iOS, Android or just about anything a browser has, including Apple TV.
- Depends on internet connection.
- Sharing / hosting large files may have to shell out money.
While all cloud services offer plans, most of them offer a free limit (different for each), which should be enough for file sharing. The cloud offers you the ability to share files with devices or people that are physically impossible to be with.
2. Physical hardware
Physical storage devices such as pen drives, external hard drives (HDDs), solid state drives (SSDs) have grown in popularity over the past few years due to the ease of file sharing they offer. Simply connect the device to the sender’s Mac, copy the files to it, then connect it to the recipient’s Mac, and then copy from the device to the computer. Pen drives are great for transferring small files quickly, hard drives 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 can do the job, but they come at a higher price tag than hard drives.
Another great feature of these devices is that you can also use these devices not only to exchange files between two Macs, but even with a Windows and Android device (using a cable or OTG adapter).
However, if connecting a hard drive is too difficult for you, consider purchasing such a Wi-Fi drive from ScanDisk. They cost more than a physical hard drive and offer less storage space, but provide easy access to those files over the network.
Tip: Before using the same hard drive with MacOS and Windows, be sure to format it to exFAT or FAT32, as NTFS is read-only on Windows by default and can cause problems.
Read: How to Format Hard Drives
- Very simple and minimal steps required to use.
- Choose from a wide variety of sizes accordingly (4GB to 4TB).
- Conveniently portable to take with you wherever you go
- Physical devices, so prone to corruption or data loss.
Physical storage devices are better than cloud services for storing or transferring huge volumes of files, as they offer the best cost savings and even work without an Internet connection, being portable to take with you. However, keep in mind that they still need to be physically transferred to the receiver, which shouldn’t be a problem if you share with yourself or a friend at school or work.
3. Share files
Of course, most of you knew about the two previous methods, but very few know about the file sharing system built right into the Mac OS. File sharing using SMB is one of the most efficient and fastest ways to transfer files between two Macs on the same network.
Read: How to access files on your computer from anywhere with TeamViewer
But first, you need to activate File Sharing on the Mac you want to access data from. Go to
System Preferences Sharing. Turn on file sharing by clicking the switch next to it.
In the Shared Folders section, delete or add the folders that you want to share, and in the Users section, you can manage the access rights of different users. Make sure the icon is green and says “File Sharing: Enabled”, and below it should be your device address starting with “smb: //”, which in my case is “smb: // anurags-mbp”
Now on the other device, go to Finder Go Connect to Server.
And bring in smb. The address. A pop-up should then appear asking which folder you want to open. Select the folder you want and enter the username and password of the host computer user and you’re done.
Tip: If you want the maximum baud rate, we recommend connecting both devices to the network using wires.
Also, if you want to share your Windows computers, go to Settings and enable afp along with smb.
- Very high transfer rate.
- The rights of each user can be controlled.
- Devices must be on the same network.
If you want to transfer files between your computers or to a friend’s computer connected to the same network, file sharing provides faster transfer speeds and even offers permission management for different clients.
4. Use of wires
Most new Macs come with Thunderbolt ports that provide insane bandwidth, but did you know you can only use them for file transfers? There are two ways to do this: Target Disk Mode or Thunderbolt Bridge.
Target Disk Mode lets you access the entire hard drive of one Mac from another Mac, allowing you to copy files to and from the target device. By using all lanes of a Thunderbolt cable you get the fastest speed, and this method is highly recommended for huge file transfers that are done in no time.
To use Target Disk Mode, on the target machine, i.e. the hard disk you want to access, connect both Macs using a 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 Boot Disk Target Disk Mode. The screen should dim the screen and show the 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 Thunderbolt Bridge is also very similar, except that both machines remain powered on and you can use both Macs while transferring files.
To use Thunderbolt Bridge, you need to enable it on both devices. Go to System Preferences Network click Add (+) Select Thunderbolt Bridge.
Note. You may already have Thunderbolt Bridge enabled. In this case, nothing needs to be done.
Connect the two Macs with a Thunderbolt cable and you should see “Not Connected” change to “Self-Assigned IP”. Once that’s done, write down the IP address and go to Finder Go Connect to Server. And enter the IP address after which it matches the file sharing.
Hint: If you’re using an older Mac that doesn’t have Thunderbolt, you can use Ethernet cables (will also work with an Ethernet adapter) to achieve similar transfer rates.
- Highest baud rate.
- Suitable for moving large files.
- The distance between two Macs depends on the length of the Thunderbolt wire connecting them, which is usually very short.
- New Macbooks only come with a USB Type-C port, so you may have to spend extra money on an adapter.
This is the only fast and convenient way to transfer huge files like videos and games from one Mac to another. However, since they must be connected by a single cable, the machines must be physically close to each other; this might not be a problem if you have a MacBook, but it can be tricky with two iMacs in separate rooms.
AirDrop can be the easiest and most convenient way to share files between two Macs and even iPhones. It mainly uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to connect and transfer files between devices.
What makes AirDrop so great is that it’s so simple and idiot-proof; just open AirDrop from Finder on both Macs and wait until the other person’s device appears. Once you see their device, just drag and drop the files you want to send onto their avatar / icon and BAM! The file has been transferred! There may even be multiple devices, just drag and drop the corresponding file to the appropriate person, that’s all! This is terribly fast for small files such as images and text files, but it takes a little time for much larger files.
Read: Best Airdrop Alternatives for Android, iOS and Windows
- Requires no configuration or anything else.
- Protected from idiots and convenient.
- Computers must be nearby and connected to some kind of Wi-Fi network (not necessarily the same one), otherwise AirDrop won’t work.
If you can use AirDrop, meaning there is another Mac in your vicinity, then you should use AirDrop as it enables seamless file sharing between two Macs.
Convolution: Transfer files from Mac to Mac
If the two Macs are close to each other and the file to transfer is relatively small, AirDrop is best. However, for large files, Thunderbolt cables or file sharing do the job just fine. And if the two machines are not nearby, physical storage devices can be used to transfer files from one Mac to another, and online services can be used for even greater distances.
So these were our five ways to transfer files from Mac to Mac. Did we miss anything? Do you have doubts? Let’s go in the comments below.