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I'm using airdrop to transfer files and stuff to another macbook. Looking at the output of ifconfig, I can see that airdrop creates a VNIC to communicate with the other computer.

Is there a way I can use that connection as a full fledged AdHoc network connection, i.e ping the other computer, use normal file sharing etc.?

Because even though I can use airdrop while being connected to another wifi network (i.e the network card can connect to an adhoc connection as well as an infrastructure connection simultaneously), if I use an adhoc network through the wifi icon in the top bar, I am disconnected from the other wifi connection.

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Yes, the VNIC created when an AirDrop window is open can be used by any application. AirDrop simply runs Bonjour (mDNS/DNS-SD) on that interface to discover peer and the TLS to transfer files. Any network application that can be configured to use a specific interface and supports IPv6 should work.

For example, pinging (replace X with whatever the interface number is in use, see ifconfig for example): ping6 -I p2pX ff02::1

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ping is about as basic as it gets so it's not really a surprise this works. But unless Apple explicitly starts additional services listening on the VNIC you won't be able to access the computer through it. – patrix Nov 21 '11 at 6:07
No, the point is that it's just an interface like any other. YOU can start whatever services you want on it manually, no Apple required. – gkre1 Nov 21 '11 at 8:39
How would you start up and connect to ssh or apache then? – patrix Nov 21 '11 at 8:55
More importantly, how do I do name resolution and discover the other hosts on that interface? ping6 -I p2p0 some-other-host.local doesn't work for the same hostname that it works for on regular networks. – Glyph Apr 17 '14 at 19:24

AirDrop is limited to the sending and receiving of file only, and cannot be hijacked for any other purpose. It's one of those "Do 1 thing well, and nothing else" tools. There may be other software available to create a virtual NIC whilst leaving your existing connection uninterrupted (you may be able to manually create one using the command line and iifconfig tools or similar) but the only way I can think to allow you to have a multi-homed macbook is to have multiple genuine network adapters, and as such a USB dongle for your ad-hoc connections. Not perfect, but better than trying to bend AirDrop to do something it isn't designed to do.

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