OS X is an operating system that focuses on simplifying things for the user, even if it doesn’t always come out right. Even if you try, there are always features that go completely unnoticed because of a lack of interest. And one group of features that is always ignored is resource sharing .
What kind of resources? Anything that can be used over a local network or even from a remote connection : files and folders, multimedia content, programs that act as servers… let’s go over what we can do with all these options, usually ignored in the system preferences panel.
Files and Folders
The basics always come first: any Mac has the ability to share files among multiple computers within a local network enabled. Typically each OS X user has a public folder , from which any other user on the same or another Mac on the local network can pick up or deposit files.
In other words, this is Airdrop’s “manual” mode . We can also set any folder (or even hard disk) as a shared directory, setting up a very rudimentary and basic kind of server to access an external drive from all the devices in the house.
Displays and remote control
Enabling screen sharing can be very useful if you have computer newbies in your family or if you have a computer such as a Mac mini connected to your TV that acts as a media server and player. With this feature, you can use your Wi-Fi network to remotely operate one Mac from another.
Additionally we can activate the remote management of events with Apple Remote Desktop, a more professional solution, in the panels Remote Management and Apple Remote Events . And let’s not forget AirPlay , which can display the OS X desktop on any TV or projector equipped with an AppleTV.
What we now all know as tethering has not appeared with mobile phones: Macs can share their network connection by generating their own Wi-Fi network , powered by the signal coming over their ethernet cable. Or just the opposite, by capturing the signal from a wireless network and passing it to another Mac via cable. Just like that I ” saved the life ” of someone who had trouble with his Wi-Fi at the New York airport, using a cable in a waiting area coffee shop.
We can even use the Thunderbolt or Firewire cables to achieve this, so that at home we can set up a makeshift local network even without ethernet cables. And if you have a Mac as a 24-hour server, why not use it as a Wi-Fi repeater? It’s perfectly possible. Just adjust the options in the box Internet Sharing .
Printers and scanners
Bonus level : also works with scanners . If we share them (or our printer is multi-functional), we can use it via the Image Capture program present on all Macs by default within the ApplicationsUtilities folder . The shared scanner will appear in the Shared section on the right sidebar of the application, and from there you can scan anything without installing the drivers. That’s already taken care of by the system.
We end up with one of the most unknown options, and one that leads to the false belief that Macs can’t share files with other terminals via Bluetooth: the Bluetooth Sharing panel in the Share section makes it possible, allowing to set up destination folders for when we download data from those terminals and folders with read permission for whoever scans what we have. By default, this folder is the public folder of our user folder.
However, this option has gradually fallen into disuse due to the boom in cloud services and other simpler alternatives such as AirDrop. But who knows: maybe it can save our lives someday when all wireless networks fail.