Better Security On That Macbook: Turn Off File Sharing, Enable AirDrop [OS X Tips]

Airdrop Top
When you travel with a Mac laptop, whether a Macbook Pro or Air, you may be leaving it open to malicious users to get into your machine.

One of the things you can do to keep them out of your precious files is to turn off File Sharing completely. Then, if you still want to share files with other Mac users, you can use AirDrop, which is more of a temporary opening of the security gates than File Sharing is.

Note that you can indeed improve security while using File Sharing on and setting up your Firewall with specific ports, but that’s the subject of a different tip.

To turn off File Sharing, hope into your System Preferences app and click on the Sharing icon there in the preferences window.

Disable File Sharing

Next, click the checkbox next to File Sharing to turn it off. This is, ultimately, the most secure you can make your Macbook; it keeps everything else from being allowed to connect to your Mac. You can still make connections to other network services like file servers and the like, but nothing can connect to you.

To make AirDrop work, all you need is to click on the AirDrop icon in the Finder, or select AirDrop from the Finder’s Go menu. You’ll see your Macbook’s user icon in the lower part of the window. When another user enables AirDrop on their own Mac (on the same network as you), their user icon will appear at the top.

AirDrop
To move files to the other user, drag them to their user icon in the AirDrop window. They’ll need to approve the file transfer — as soon as they do, your file will start to move to their machine.

The same is true in reverse: any files other users try to send you will, in turn, need to be approved by you. It’s a nice way to have a more conscious approach to allowing file transfers to and from your Mac, as well.

  • jonathanober

    AirDrop is good and all but it doesn’t work for everyone.

    Macs that include AirDrop support are the same as, or newer than, the models listed below.

    MacBook Pro (Late 2008 or newer)*

    MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)

    MacBook (Late 2008 or newer)*

    iMac (Early 2009 or newer)

    Mac Mini (Mid 2010 or newer)

    Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010)

    *The MacBook Pro (17-Inch Late 2008) and the white MacBook (Late 2008) do not support AirDrop.

  • Fong Kah Chun

    AirDrop and File Sharing works differently. Hence, must used differently too. File Sharing does not means less security as you will still be prompted to enter password unless you agreed to remember password at the first use.

    If I wants to edit a file on a Mac, without the hassle of duplicating different file version, then File Sharing is the way to go.

    Use AirDrop when:
    – You want to give files to another Mac User.
    – You do not want the other user to view through your folders, etc

    Use File Sharing when:
    – You can set permission to access the different folders in your system.
    – You need to edit file directly.

    – You have multiple Macs, and safe to “save password to Keychain”
    – You know not to “save password to Keychain” on Mac that is not yours.

    This article is written like “Better security to use email to share file than to use USB flash drive”.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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