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13.20. Sharing

Mac OS X is an upstanding network citizen, flexible enough to share its contents with other Macs, Windows PCs, people dialing in from the road, people dialing in from the Internet, and so on. The various checkboxes you'll encounter are:

  • Personal File Sharing. Turning on this checkbox makes your Mac accessible to other Macs. Someone using another Mac on your network can simply choose Go → Network to browse the list of accessible networked computers, double-click your Mac's name, and enter his username and password to get access to his files on your Mac.


    You can even connect to your home Mac from over the Internet, provided you have the home Mac's I.P. address (It's the four numbers separated by periods at the bottom of your Sharing window). On the Internet-connected Mac, choose Go → Connect to Server (-K), type afp:// (substituting the correct I.P. address), click Connect, and enter your username and password.

    A hard drive icon representing your home Mac now appears on your screen, which you use just like any connected disk—copying files to and from it, for example, and dragging it to the Trash when you're done.

  • Windows Sharing. Section 5.2.3 explains this magic technology, which allows any networked Windows PC to get to the files on your Mac.

  • Personal Web Sharing. This single checkbox turns your Mac into a full-fledged Web server—a computer that provides Web pages to any visitors on the Internet.

    Place the actual Web pages (in HTML format) into your Home → Sites folder. Then give out the URL at the bottom of the Sharing pane to any prospective visitors: family members, neighbors, and so on.


    Unless you have an Internet connection that's on all the time (like a DSL or cable connection), your visitors will only be able to access the Web site when you are also online.

  • Remote Login. Warning: This checkbox is for Unix nerds only. When turned on, it enables you to tap into your Mac's Unix underbelly from anywhere in the world, using a cryptic command called ssh. If you have no aspirations of ever becoming a command-line user, you can safely ignore this checkbox.

  • FTP Access: This checkbox transforms your Mac into an FTP server—a specialized computer for transferring files (not Web pages) over the Internet. Any visitors must know the URL provided at the bottom of your System Preferences window, but once they've entered it into their Web browser or FTP program—and typed in an administrator's username and password—they can download files from your Mac at very high speed.

  • Apple Remote Desktop: This geeky feature allows network administrators to manage groups of Macs remotely. Ignore it.

  • Remote Apple Events: When this checkbox is turned on, other Macs can send Apple Events—quick activity requests—to your Mac. If you have any reason to turn this on, your network administrator will let you know.

  • Printer Sharing: You can learn more about this useful feature (for transforming a USB printer into a networked printer) on Section A.62.

    Figure 13-13. Apple has always created updated and bug-fixing versions of its software components, but they don't do you any good if you don't know about them. You no longer have to scour Mac news Web sites to discover that one of these components has been released and then hunt down the software itself. When Software Update finds an appropriate software morsel, it offers to install it automatically.

  • Xgrid: This feature is another one that should be labeled "nerds only." Avoid it unless you have software especially designed for large-scale network processing tasks.



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