Desktop computers, regardless of what OS they’re running, can talk to each other if they’re connected to the same network. This can be a WiFi network or a wired network. Each OS has its own settings for enabling file sharing. If you’re trying to share files from macOS, you have to enable file sharing before the Mac will be visible on the network. Here’s how you can enable file sharing on macOS.
Enable file sharing on macOS
The process below is for a WiFi network but it will work the same for an ethernet network as well.
Open System Preferences and select the Sharing preference on the bottom/last row.
Here, you will see a column on the left with an option for ‘File Sharing’. Select it, and then click the ‘Options’ button.
A new panel will open with options for enabling two different types of file sharing protocols. The first is SMB, and the second is AFP. Enable both these options, or if you know which one you need specifically, enable just that one. If you’re looking to share files to a Windows system, you will see a ‘Windows File Sharing’ section. Under it, select the account you want to share files from, and that should do the trick.
Your Mac will now be visible on the network. Other Macs and Windows systems will see it as well when they visit their own network settings. As for connecting to the Mac, that will depend on the system you’re accessing the Mac from.
The file sharing method on macOS is different from that on Windows 10 but you will need to enable file sharing on the other system as well. It goes without saying that login credentials for the system that you’re accessing will also be required.
File sharing over networks is generally slow, however, it often beats using a cloud service or hardware i.e., storage devices, to transfer files between two computers that are not in close proximity to each other. For smaller files e.g., documents, and images, it’s convenient. For large files, those that are over a GB in size, you might want to consider using actual hardware e.g., a USB drive to get files. It’s less convenient but far quicker.
If you’re definitely looking to share files over a network, using a LAN will be quicker than sharing over a WiFi network. The options will be the same mostly. As for security, both afford the same security features and logins are needed to establish a connection.