A device that can connect to a wireless or wired network can normally interact with other devices on the same network. The nature of the interaction may vary e.g., computers can access files on other computers, computers can send print jobs to network printers, messages can be broadcast to devices on the network, etc.
Network sharing is a useful tool and it’s normally easy to set up so that different types of devices can interact with each other. That said, just because your device is connected to a network doesn’t mean you have no choice but to be visible on it to others.
Hide a Mac on a network
If you’re running macOS, you can easily hide your Mac from the network you’re connected to. This applies to all types of networks i.e., both wireless and wired, and public and private.
To hide a Mac on a network, follow these steps.
- Open the System Preferences app.
- Select the Sharing preference.
- On the Sharing preference, you will see a column of options. Turn them all off.
- When prompted to select a timeout period for sharing, set it to zero minutes to turn sharing offing immediately.
- Once disabled, your Mac will no longer be visible to other computers on the network.
File sharing and mapped drives
When you choose to hide your Mac from the network, you also disable file sharing over the network for it. The Mac won’t be able to see other systems on the network either and will not be able to access files on them even if it has the correct login credentials for it.
Any network device that has the Mac mapped as a drive or network location will no longer be able to access it. The networked address will remain visible on the device but access to it will be blocked.
This setting will not hide the Mac from the router if you’re connected to a wireless network. Anyone with access to the admin panel of the router will be able to see that the Mac is connected to it, view its connection uptime, ita MAC address, its internal IP, and its name.
On macOS, network sharing is set for the entire system and is not a network-specific setting. This means that if you’ve disabled network sharing i.e., hidden the Mac from the network, it will be hidden from all networks that you join. If you choose to show the Mac on networks, it will be visible on all networks that you join. If you frequently connect to public networks, be mindful of when your Mac is visible and hidden.