How to Set Up File Share in OS X Mavericks - dummies

How to Set Up File Share in OS X Mavericks

By Bob LeVitus

File sharing is a great tool that OS X Mavericks offers users. But, before you get into the nitty-gritty of sharing files, you must complete a few housekeeping tasks, such as enabling the appropriate type of file sharing. Follow these steps to do so:

  1. Choose app→System Preferences and then click the Sharing icon.

    The Sharing System Preferences pane appears. The first word of the long username of the first Admin account created on this computer appears in the Computer Name field by default, followed by the type of Mac (for example, Bob L’s MacBook Pro).

  2. If you want to change the name of your computer from whatever Mavericks decided to call it to something more personal, do that now in the Computer Name text field at the top of the Sharing pane.

    You can name yours anything you like.

  3. Select the File Sharing check box.

    Now other users on your network can access files and folders on your computer.


    By default, only one folder in your Home folder is shared, and that folder is your Public folder. If you want to access files or folders on this computer while you’re using another computer on the network, you can so long as you first provide your username and password. Everyone else on the network can see only your Public folder.

    These are the safest settings. Unless you have good reason to tinker with them, you should probably not change anything here. That said, if you feel you must change these settings.

  4. (Optional) If you want remote users to upload and download files to and from this computer, click the Options button and then select either or both of the Share Files and Folders Using AFP or SMB check boxes.

    • Doing so gives users on the Internet but not on your local area network some alternatives to file sharing: an Apple File Protocol (AFP) or a client program that uses Server Message Block (Samba or SMB).

    • If you want to enable Windows or Linux users — or users of other operating systems — to share files with you, the SMB check box must be selected.

    • Select the On check box (in the leftmost column) for each account you want to enable to use these protocols to access your Mac, providing the password when prompted.

  5. Click the Done button when you’re done.

Access and permissions: who can do what in file share in OS X Mavericks

After you set up file sharing, your next step on the path to sharing files on a network is telling your Mac who is allowed to see and access specific folders.

Macintosh file sharing (and indeed, OS X as well) is based on the concept of users. You can share items — such as drives or folders — with no users, one user, or many users, depending on your needs.

  • Users: People who share folders and drives (or your Mac) are users. A user’s access to items on your local hard drive is entirely at your discretion. You can configure your Mac so only you can access its folders and drives, or so only one other person or group — or everyone — can share its folders and drives.

    When you first set up your Mac, you created your first user. This user automatically has administrative powers, such as adding more users, changing preferences, and having the clearance to see all folders on the hard drive.

    For most intents and purposes, a remote user and a local user are the same. Here’s why: After you create an account for a user, that user can log in to your Mac while sitting in your chair in your office, from anywhere on your local area network via Ethernet, or anywhere in the world via the Internet if you give him an Administrator, Standard, or Managed account.

  • Administrative users: Although a complete discussion of the special permissions that a user with administrator permissions has on a Mac running OS X is far beyond our scope, note two important things:

    • The first user created (usually when you install OS X for the first time) is automatically granted administrator (Admin) powers.

    • Only an administrator account can create new users, delete some (but not all) files from folders that aren’t in his or her Home folder, lock and unlock System Preferences panes, and a bunch of other stuff. If you try something and it doesn’t work, make sure you’re logged in as an Administrator or can provide an Administrator username and password when prompted.

    You can give any user administrator permissions by selecting that user’s account in the Users & Groups System Preferences pane and selecting the Allow User to Administer This Computer check box. You can select this check box when you’re creating the user account or anytime thereafter.

  • Groups: Groups are Unix-level designations for privilege consolidation. For example, there are groups named Staff and Everyone (as well as a bunch of others). A user can be a member of multiple groups. For example, your main account is in the Staff, Admin, and Everyone groups (and others, too). Don’t worry — you find out more about groups shortly.

  • Guests: Two kinds of guests exist. The first kind lets your friends log into your Mac while sitting at your desk without user accounts or passwords. When they log out, all information and files in the guest account’s Home folder are deleted automatically.

    If you want this kind of guest account, you need to enable the Guest Account in the Users & Groups System Preferences pane. To do so, click the Guest Account in the list of accounts on the left and select the Allow Guests to Log In to This Computer check box.