Previously, I wrote a short tutorial about how to set up file-sharing between Windows and Mac computers on a local network. Today, I will be showing you how to enable the “drop box” to allow other users on your local network to easily send files over to your Mac.
A “drop box” is basically a folder within your Public folder. By default, its access is disabled (Write Only). But you are only a few simple steps away from enabling it. After that everyone will find it a bit easier to share files with you (even Windows users) by just dropping it into your Mac.
This tutorial was written based on Leopard. Users of other platforms may find small differences in navigation.
Alright, let’s get started. Head to System Preferences. It should be located on the Dock on Leopard and for Tiger, it’s accessible by clicking on the Apple logo on the top-left corner of your screen.
Click on Sharing.
Check the box next to “File Sharing” to enable local file sharing on your Mac. If your “Public Folder” isn’t listed in the Shared Folders box then add it by clicking on the plus “+” sign. The Public Folder is located in your user folder (that’s the folder with a house for its logo).
Next, assign the appropriate rights to the user-groups: ‘Read & Write’ for you; and ‘Read Only’ for everyone else. You want to control this folder from unauthorized changes. Your Public folder is your general sharing folder. Here is where you place anything you want to share with others on your local network. Due to the ‘Read Only’ rights, viewers cannot do anything else with the files here.
Located within the Public Folder is the Drop Box. This elusive folder is the target of your interest. We need to enable read and write rights for everyone on your local network to be able to “drop” files into it. To be honest, it isn’t totally necessary to set it to ‘Read & Write’, you can leave it as it is. By default, the setting is ‘Write Only’ – Drop Box mode, which means that other users can “drop” files into it but can’t view its contents. This also means that other Mac users on your network will get an error when they try to access your Drop Box. To new Mac users, this may deter them from simply dropping files into the folder.
So we enable ‘Read & Write’ rights to make things easier. To do that, right-click on the Drop Box folder and select ‘Get Info’.
This will bring up the info window. Scroll all the way down and click on the lock icon. You will be asked to type your user password for authentication. Now, you are able to set the rights for “Everyone” to ‘Read & Write’.
I actually find the ‘Write Only’ mode quite irritating. Other users won’t be able to double-check if the file has been transferred. Turning on ‘Read & Write’ access is much friendlier. With that in mind, don’t store any sensitive files in your Drop Box because others will be able to gain access or worse, delete them.
Okay, so your Drop Box has been set up. Here is where we add notification for this folder. Since you’ve allowed others to simply add files into this folder by themselves, some notification is necessary to alert you when there are new files.
Right-click on Drop Box and under ‘More’, click on ‘Enable Folder Actions’.
Again, right-click on Drop box and scroll down to ‘More’ but now click on ‘Attach a Folder Action’. Navigate to /Your HD/Library/Scripts/Folder Action Scripts and select “add – new item alert.scpt”.
Success! Now whenever anyone adds files to your Drop Box, you will be alerted.
Another option would be to install DropCopy for Leopard and Tiger. It provides simple local network file-sharing. All you need to do is install it on every networked Mac. Using Bonjour, it finds all Macs on the same network. A small circle appears on your desktop and that’s where you drop files to be copied to other Macs. Sadly, this application is limited to work with only 3 machines. To see DropCopy in action, visit their website.
Was this tutorial easy to follow? Did it help you to overcome file-sharing between two Macs (or any other systems) within your network? Is there an easy method or an application to copy files over to other Macs? Let us know in the comments.
And oh, Wez wrote about another great use for Folder Actions, to convert or rotate images. Check it out!