How to share a folder to your network in MacOS

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Two people using a Mac.

Apple

Sharing a folder to your network is an easy way to give other users access to the files they need. By doing this, you no longer have to email those files or come up with some other, less efficient method.

How to share a folder to your network in MacOS

But how is it done? Because this is MacOS, the process is actually quite simple and is handled entirely through the GUI (unlike Linux, which often requires a bit of command-line magic). 

And that’s exactly what I’m going to show you how to do — share your folders by way of the GUI.

Also: How to encrypt a folder in MacOS to keep sensitive data from prying eyes

Requirements

This can be done on any modern iteration of MacOS, so you don’t have to worry about installing any third-party software. All you need is MacOS and a valid account on the machine. Let’s get this party started.

The first thing you must do is enable file sharing. Open System Sharing in the System Preferences app. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of the desktop and select System Preferences. From the System Preferences window, click Sharing.

The MacOS System Preferences window.

The Sharing option found in the System Preferences window.

Image: Jack Wallen

Click the check box associated with File Sharing to enable the feature.

The System Preferences Sharing window in MacOS.

Enabling Sharing from within the MacOS System Preferences tool.

Image: Jack Wallen

Also: How to create different network locations in MacOS for more flexible connections

This is where it can be a bit tricky. You need to grant access to the shared directory. You might want to create a special user account on your MacBook or iMac for this purpose. Otherwise, you’ll need to grant All Users access to the shared folders, which can be a bit of a security issue.

It’s important to know that when you create a user for this purpose, you can grant them any one of the following permissions:

  • Read/Write: The user can view and copy files to and from the folder.
  • Read Only: The user can only view the contents of the folder.
  • Write Only (Dropbox): The user can only copy files to the folder but can’t view its contents.

Also: The best Macs

Once you’ve enabled File Sharing, you can then add shared folders and user access. Let’s say you’ve added a special user account for accessing the shared folders (which is done in System Settings > Users & Groups). With that user available, click + under Users (in System Preferences > Sharing), select the user from the popup, and then grand the required access once the user is added to the list.

The MacOS Sharing Users pane.

Adding users to the MacOS Sharing feature.

Image: Jack Wallen

You’re not finished yet. Click the Options button and, from the popup, click the checkbox associated with the user you want to enable for the share. You’ll be prompted to type your user password. Upon successful authentication, click Done, and the share is ready. Anyone with the username and password for the user will be able to access that folder across your network (how they do this will depend on their operating system).

The SMB account management window in MacOS Monterey.

Enabling users for our new share.

Image: Jack Wallen

Also: How to create a new MacOS Finder Quick Action with Automator

Use this feature carefully and it can make your daily workflow a bit easier by simplifying the sharing of files with your co-workers and family.

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