A network is great, but what if you want to connect two Macs and transfer data gab as fast as possible? Using a Mac with a Gigabit Ethernet cable or a Mac with 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) or later wireless networking hardware, you can transfer data between two devices at a gigabit rate per second, but you can do better!
Apple offers four built-in methods in MacOS, none of which are obviously set up. Each of them has different requirements, benefits and tradeoffs. Once connected, you use the same tools to transfer data between two Macs just like if you are connected to a network:
- SMB file sharing: In Finder, select Go to> Connect to Server (To Command) and click Browse. If it does not appear in the Mac Network window, go back Connect to the serverEnter
smb://Then click the network-assigned or self-assigned IP address of the other device, and click Connect. (A self-assigned address means the computer cannot find a DHCP server, which determines the address and provides a path to the Internet.)
- Friendship: A Mac connected to any of the following methods should be discovered through an app that supports Bonjour.
- Direct application support: Some applications build on their own network services and should only identify other Mac running clients or peer-to-peer software.
There are four methods, from the fastest to the slowest.
Connect via Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt has long incorporated a computer-to-computer mode that allows a 10Gbps connection. While it’s a fraction of the current 40Gbps data path for drive, peripheral and display, it’s fast enough! (This method works with Windows and other computers that have Thunderbolt support.)
In my experiments using a Thunderbolt 4 cable between two M1 Macs, I was able to get 4Gbps durable text and 8Gbps durable read using a speed-testing app, and 5Gbps to copy large files from one Mac to another. Both rates are much higher than Gigabit Ethernet.
It is very important that you have a USB-C to USB-C cable designed for Thunderbolt 3 or 4. Buy it from a company with a good track record, such as Anchor, Belkin, Caldigit and other world computing, to name four. Among many. If you already own a USB-C cable, check that the plugs on both ends have a lightning bolt symbol; It should carry a 3 or 4, although Apple dropped it, oddly enough. You don’t want a USB-C charge-only cable (usually unmarked edge) or a USB 3-cable (usually a USB symbol and labeled SuperSpeed + or SS +, SS 10, or SS 20).
If you have one or two older Macs with Thunderbolt 2, you can use Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 2 cable or Thunderbolt 3 or 4 USB-C cable with Thunderbolt 2 adapter on one end.
Here’s how to set it up:
- Connect the two computers to a cable via any of their Thunderbolt ports.
- Open System Preferences > The Internet And make sure Thunderbolt Bridge Both appear in the list of interfaces on the left side of the Mac. If not, click + (plus) and select Thunderbolt Bridge To add it, click CreationAnd click Please apply.
- When the bridge interface and the two Macs are connected, you’ll see a yellow dot at the bottom of the interface name and the self-assigned IP.
- Note the address of each computer, which will be something to start with
169.254.14.103. You will need it for the SMB connection described above.
To disconnect, simply unplug the Thunderbolt cable.
Connect from 1Gbps to 10Gbps Ethernet
macOS can automatically configure a network connection via Ethernet between two Macs with the same results as above: a self-assigned IP address. Some Macs like Mac Pro and Studio Mac have built-in 10Gbps Ethernet. Macs released over the last decade have 1Gbps Ethernet, known simply as “Gigabit Ethernet”. To use 1Gbps Ethernet, you need a cable rated as Category 5E (or Cat5E) or higher; For 10Gbps, at least Cat6. (If you want to use 10Gbps on a local network, you can get a 10 Gbps Ethernet adapter for Thunderbolt 3 or 4 which costs $ 199.)
Open System Preferences > The Internet And make sure Ethernet Both appear in the list of interfaces on the left side of the Mac. If not, click + (plus) and select Ethernet To add that interface, click CreationAnd click Please apply. Connect the two Macs to the cable, and you’ll end up with the same as step 4 above for a Thunderbolt cable.
You can connect to computers running other operating systems, as they usually automatically generate a self-assigned IP address and allow SMB and other networking services.
Performance should be up to 1Gbps with Gigabit Ethernet and Thunderbolt’s performance should match 10Gbps Ethernet.
Create a Wi-Fi hotspot with your Mac
If a Thunderbolt or Ethernet just isn’t easy and there’s no Wi-Fi network nearby, you can create a Wi-Fi hotspot using your Mac, once called Software base station. (Apple started with this feature decades ago.)
Read “How to share a Wi-Fi connection via macOS” on how to configure a Mac to offer this type of network. You use System Preferences > Sharing Network preferences instead of panels. (Go to the Network Preference pane and it shows Internet Sharing: turned on as the network name for the Wi-Fi adapter.) Your Mac also shows an upward arrow inside the Wi-Fi fan to indicate network sharing.
Once created, the Mac’s Wi-Fi network can be selected by any device, including Wi-Fi. These include Macs, gaming systems, Android phones and more. Since this is a shared connection, the machine connected to your Mac will be assigned an IP address by your Mac.
My Macs have an M1 MacBook Air and M1 Mac mini. I’ve achieved 100 to 200Mbps throughput, about half of which I can manage via a Wi-Fi network with one gigabit internet connection.
A Mac-built Wi-Fi hotspot is good in a pinch when no other network or wires are available, but an 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) or later Wi-Fi router may offer more throughput, often a good choice. .
Disable the Wi-Fi hotspot by unchecking the Internet Sharing service in the list on the left in System Preferences> Sharing.
Create a computer wireless network from a computer
As a last resort, you can go back to an old wireless system once known This. It is outdated and lacks Wi-Fi security However, it has very few overheads because it is a peer-to-peer connection — just make sure no one is in the range where your encrypted wireless data can be sniffed.
Your maximum throughput will be relatively low. I measured below 100Mbps, even lower than the average on a Mac-made Wi-Fi hotspot.
Follow these steps:
- On both Macs, go System Preferences > The InternetSelect your Wi-Fi adapter from the list on the left and click Advanced.
- Check and click “Show legacy network and options” All right And then click Please apply. (This is only required in the last few releases of macOS.)
- In the Mac’s Wi-Fi menu, select the network you want to create Create a network.
- Name the network and choose a higher-numbered channel (36 or more) as it allows higher throughput and click Creation.
- If you are warned about creating an insecure network, click here Creation.
- The icon in the Wi-Fi menu changes to show a smaller display in the shape of a Wi-Fi fan. Click the icon, and you’ll see the network listed under Device.
- From another computer, click and click the Wi-Fi menu Other networks. Sharing is displayed under the Mac’s network device. Select it. (It may work with some non-Mac computers and mobile devices.)
- The Wi-Fi icon on the connected Mac will also change to a one-fan in the display.
To disconnect, click the Wi-Fi icon to the left of the network name on the shared Mac. Turn off the shared Mac network by clicking on that Wi-Fi icon under the device.
Ask Mac 911
We’ve compiled a list of our FAQs with answers and column links: Read our Super FAQ to see if your question is covered. If not, we’re always looking for new solutions! Email your [email protected] with the appropriate screen capture and whether you want to use your full name. Not every question will be answered, we do not reply to emails and we cannot offer direct troubleshooting advice.