Transfer Extremely Large Files Between Two Macs

You will occasionally need to move large files from one Mac to another. You will naturally feel constrained to use a service like Dropbox or transfer the data into a USB and ultimately into the other Mac manually. However, there are a few other built-in options that you can use to transfer the data quicker, especially if you need to transfer data up to numerous gigabytes.

The main way to do this is by OS X’s built in “File Sharing” system. Follow the steps given below to enable File Sharing on your Mac:

1. Open up System Preferences via. the Apple menu.


2. Click on the “Sharing” icon.


3. Enable the checkbox labelled “File Sharing.”


Most devices use the default Wi-Fi option to use the File Sharing feature in OS X. However, in the case of sharing large files, if you don’t have the latest and greatest Wi-Fi speeds and Wi-Fi technology on your devices, then transferring your files could take upto a number of hours. If that’s the case, try the alternative methods below:

1. File Sharing Via Ethernet

Ethernet connections are standard and enabled on nearly all systems. However, you can make sure that this (and any other connections) are enabled in the Network pane in System Preferences. Most new Macs don’t include an Ethernet port. If that’s the case with your system, you can buy a Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet or USB-to-Ethernet adaptor, although the former will be faster than the latter. All you need to do is connect the both Macs via an Ethernet cable.

2. File Sharing Via FireWire or Thunderbolt

Your second option is to transfer your file through FireWire. Like Ethernet, Firewire is being phased out of Apple’s Mac systems but can be added using a Thunderbolt-to-FireWire adapter.

Your third and final option is Thunderbolt, which is the fastest of all. Keep in mind that Thunderbolt is only available as a networking option in OS X Mavericks, so you’ll need to have that installed. Also, this option may not be available immediately, so you might need to add it by clicking on the ‘Plus’ button in the Network pane in System Preferences and adding ‘Thunderbolt Bridge’ as an interface.

How To Connect Your Two Macs Via Ethernet, Firewire or Thunderbolt

If you’ve chosen to transfer your files simply over Wi-Fi, then no setup will be required for you to connect your Macs. Continue by skipping to the next paragraph. However, if you’ve opted for Ethernet, Firewire or Thunderbolt, you’ll need to first disable Wi-Fi in System Preferences or in the Wi-Fi menu bar. Once you’ve done so, OS X will re-establish an ad-hoc connection using one of the available alternative methods. (Note: If your system does not connect using any one of the alternative methods, you might need to enable the connection in the Network Pane in System Preferences. To do this, simply select the disabled connection, click on the Settings icon in the bottom-left corner, and click on ‘Make Service Active’.)


Once your system has established a connection, you should see the second computer show up in the Finder’s Shared sidebar category, where you can authenticate and then transfer your files.



Sharing large files via a physical method such as an USB or portable hard drive can be a time-consuming task for some. With OS X’s “File Sharing” feature, you have a way to transfer large files easily by WiFi, Ethernet, Thunderbolt or Firewire.

Have any other method to easily transfer files between two Macs? Be sure to tell us about it in the comments below.

Shujaa Imran
Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier's resident Mac tutorial writer. He's currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox