How to Set Up a Wired Network for Your Macs

When you install a network, or connect multiple computers, two or more interconnected Macs can share files, data, music, printers, an Internet connection, and other resources. If the Macs you intend to network are almost always going to stay in one location, a wired network is probably the best way to proceed. Wired networks are faster, more secure, not as prone to interference, typically less expensive, and arguably the easiest to set up (unless you’re dealing with a mess of wires).

To connect your Macs, you use an Ethernet cable, which is the data cable whose end looks likes an oversized phone plug. Ethernet cables also go by the names CAT-5, 10BaseT, or 100BaseT.

To get started with a wired network, plug one end of the cable in to the Ethernet port included in all modern Macs (except the MacBook Air, where it’s an optional accessory). The other end of the cable typically plugs in to an inexpensive network hub, switch, or router, which in turn is connected to the box feeding your Internet connection, usually a broadband cable modem or DSL.

Routers contain multiple jacks, or ports, for connecting each Mac (or other computer) or printer that becomes part of your network.

Two or more interconnected machines in the same proximity form a local-area network, or LAN for short.

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