Hands On Mac - Connecting Two Macs Via A Simple Ethernet Network

199584 Connecting two Macs via a simple Ethernet cable network in order to share files is relatively simple, although it can be challenging if you have never done it before.

The First step is to connect the two computers with an Ethernet cable.
Depending on the computer model, you may need to use a crossover Ethernet cable instead of a straight-through Ethernet cable.

Most later Macintosh computers are able to use either a straight-through Ethernet cable or a crossover Ethernet cable automatically through the use of Auto-Medium Dependent Interface Crossover (Auto-MDIX). Other Macintosh computers require the use of an Ethernet crossover cable because they only work with the Medium Dependent Interface (MDI) .

Older Macs needed a crossover cable to connect via a simple Ethernet network to another. However, More recent Macs (from about late 2000 on) have autosensing PHY interface use Auto-Medium Dependent Interface Crossover (Auto-MDIX) that will switch from straight to crossover when plugged into another Mac likewise equipped. You can use a regular Ethernet cable to connect these Macs to one another with no need for a crossover cable. However, if you want to connect a newer machines to an older Mac, or two older Macs to each other, a crossover cable is still needed.

Macs that do not require a crossover cable:
• iMac (17-inch 1GHz) and later
• eMac (ATI Graphics) and later
• iBook (Dual USB) and later
• Power Mac G4 (Gigabit Ethernet) and later
• Xserve and later
• Power Mac G5 and later
• PowerBook G4 and later
• AirPort Base Station (Dual Ethernet)
• AirPort Extreme Base Station
• AirPort Express

Macs that require a crossover cable if connecting to another computer from this list:
• Power Macintosh G3 (Blue and White)
• Power Mac G4 (PCI Graphics)
• Power Mac G4 (AGP Graphics)
• Power Mac G4 Cube
• iMac
• iMac (Slot Loading)
• iMac (Summer 2000) (See Note)
• iMac (Early 2001)
• iMac (Summer 2001) (See Note)
• iMac (Flat Panel)
• iMac (17-inch Flat Panel)
• eMac
• Mac mini
• PowerBook G3 Series (Bronze Keyboard)
• PowerBook (FireWire)
• iBook
• iBook (FireWire)
• AirPort Base Station (Graphite)

Once you have the computers connected with an appropriate cable , it's time to set up the software configuration. First, OS X (Panther or Tiger).

In the Network preferences panel, select Show "Network Port Configurations" and make sure "Built-in Ethernet" is checked. Do this on both machines.

Whether Ethernet is active will also be indicated in the "Network Status" pane of the Network System Preferences panel.

Now you will also need to open the Sharing preferences panel on at least one of the machines and activate Personal File Sharing. You should also note and possibly write down the computer address beginning with "afp" that appears at the bottom of the window on the target machine.

On the other computer, there are two connection methods that may be employed. The first is accessed as a from a Finder window in OS 10.3 or later. Click the network icon in the sidebar.

It may take several seconds for all of the items from your network to appear. Look for one representing the target machine at the opposite end of your Ethernet cable, and click on it.

A dialog will appear asking you to enter your password. When the system accepts your password, another dialog will appear showing the available volumes, from you which you can select any or all. Make your selection(s) and click OK. Within a few seconds icons for all of the selected volumes should appear In the sidebar, and you can proceed as if they were hard drive partitions.

To use the second method, select "Connect to Server" from the Go menu. the advantage of this method is that the icons of volumes on the target computer will show up on your Desktop.

When you select "Connect to Server" a dialog will appear with a list of favorite servers. If the IP address of your target machine does not appear in the list, click Browse, or alternatively type the IP address of the target machine into the Server Address field. Click Connect.

As with method one, a password authentication dialog will appear, and then a dialog showing volume selections on the target machine. Once the icons appear on your Desktop you can treat them as you would any mounted volume.


To connect two Macs running the Classic Mac OS:

1 - Plug the crossover cable into the two Macs.

2 - On the Mac that the files you want to transfer are located, start up AppleTalk if it's not already enabled. You can do this in the Chooser, by opening the AppleTalk Control Panel, or from the Control Strip. However, you might as well use the AppleTalk Control Panel (Apple Menu > Control Panels > AppleTalk), because you will need to check its little pull down menu to ensure that Ethernet is selected as the networking mode anyway.

3. - Open the File Sharing Control Panel (Apple Menu > Control Panels > File Sharing) and first give the Mac a name in the Network Identity field that will appear in the Chooser of the other Mac (see Step 7). For simple, 2-Mac connections, I strongly recommend leaving the Owner Password field blank, and if you own both machines and make sure that the Owner Name is the same and has identical syntax in both setups. If a password has already been entered by the Mac OS Setup Assistant when you first configured your Mac, delete it.

4 - Start File Sharing by clicking the Start button in the File Sharing Control Panel. This can take a minute or two to ramp up. It is up and running when the message says "File Sharing On."

5 - On the Mac to which the files are to be transferred:

Open the AppleTalk Control Panel to make sure that Ethernet is selected, and that AppleTalk is turned on.

6 - Open the File Sharing Control Panel on the second Mac and type in the same Owner Name that was used on the first Mac, if they are not already the same. Close the window (you do not have to start up File Sharing on this Mac).

7 - Open the Chooser (in the Apple Menu) and select AppleShare from the left field of the window. The name of the first Mac should appear in the right field. Click on the name to highlight it and click OK. A dialog box should appear showing the volume or volumes of the other Mac. Select one(s) that you want to access, click the OK button, and the volumes should now appear on your desktop. (Note, normally, just highlight the desired volumes, but don't check the little check boxes, or your Mac will waste time looking for them at startup when the network is not connected.)

8 - You will now be able to drag files back and forth between volumes on the remote Mac and host Mac.

9 - When you are finished swapping files, I recommend that you turn off AppleTalk and File Sharing, as they slow down Finder performance when they are not needed. When you turn off AppleTalk, a dialog will appear asking you to confirm that AppleTalk network has been disconnected. Actually, there is no need to do anything about this and other than to click the OK button. I leave my two Macs physically connected via the Ethernet crossover cable all the time, and just turn AppleTalk off.


If you're accessing a Classic OS machine (OS 8.5 - 9.2.2 only) from OS X:

1 - On the OS 8/9 computer, open the File Sharing Control Panel and note the owner name and the computer name in the network identity field. I suggest leaving the owner password box blank, but you if you insist on a password, note it as well.

2 - Start up File Sharing, and make sure that the "Enable file sharing clients to connect over TCP/IP" box is checked. Make sure Ethernet is selected in the AppleTalk control panel.

3 - On the OS X machine, pill down the Go menu in the Finder, and select Connect to Server.

4 - When the dialog box opens, check on AppleTalk in the left-field, and the name of your Classic OS computer should show up in the right field. Click on the name to highlight it.

5 - Click Connect. A dialog box will appear asking for your identity. Type the owner name the you entered in the OS 9 computer's File Sharing Control Panel, and the password if necessary. Another dialog box will appear showing the hard-drive and/or other volumes and partitions of the Classic OS machine. Select the volumes of you want to access, and click OK.

S6 - Icons for the selected volumes should appear on the OS X computer's Desktop, where you can use them as normal mounted volume folders.


If you are accessing an OS X machine from the Classic 0S :

1 - Open System Preferences in the OS X machine, and click the Sharing icon. The Sharing panel will appear. In the computer name field, type a computer game. Again, don't bother with a password.

2 - Click on the Start button to turn on file sharing. If you are accessing from a machine running a pre-OS 8.5 version of the Mac operating system, click on the AppleTalk tab and select "make AppleTalk active."

3 - on the Classic OS machine, open the Chooser from the Apple Menu., and click on the AppleShare icon. The OS X machine should show up in the right hand box. Double click on the OS X computer's name, and the "Connect As" box should appear. Type in the owner name and a password if necessary, and click Connect.

4 - You should now get a dialog box showing the volume(s) of the OS X machine. Double-click on the volume(s) you want to access, and you should be in.

That's really all there is to setting up a simple, two-Mac, Ethernet network. However, networking can be a lot more complicated once security issues enter the picture. But that's beyond the scope of this tutorial.

For more information, visit:

Charles W. Moore

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