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How to transfer files between Macs


When two or more Macs are gathered in the name of Steve Jobs, there's a good chance that someone is going to want to transfer files between those computers.

Macworld's Kirk McElhearn, who also hangs out at and is a fellow Take Control Ebooks author, has written an excellent tutorial on nine ways to transfer files from one Mac to another. Whether you're a Mac newbie or a longtime Mac-head, it's a good read.

McElhearn's nine methods include:

  • Email (although there are size limitations)
  • File sharing, found in System Preferences > Sharing
  • Using a shared disk such as a Time Capsule
  • Using iChat file transfer, which is great if you use iChat a lot since you just drag and drop files
  • Sync with Dropbox
  • Send files via Dropbox
  • Use MobileMe sharing (or use YouSendIt if the files exceed MobileMe's size limits)
  • Burn CDs or DVDs
  • Use a sneakernet with a USB thumb drive, SD card or external hard disk drive

McElhearn left FTP and several other transfer protocols off of his list, since they require a server. One of my favorite file transfer tools for Macs before Dropbox appeared on the scene was DropCopy (free for personal use on up to three Macs), a fast way to do drag-and-drop file transfers between Macs.

What other methods of file transfer between Macs can you think of? We'd love to hear some of your experiences in the comments.

Steve was born two weeks before the start of the Space Age, and has been a fan of technology since birth. A lifelong resident of Colorado, Steve graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering (1978) and a Masters Degree in Business Administration (1983).

He began writing for TUAW in 2008, and is now the Features Editor for the blog. One of his passions is "The Internet of Things", so you can find him controlling his house from his iPhone most of the time ... except when his battery is dead.

When he's not blogging for TUAW, he's writing books for Pearson and his personal blog, Transient Spike