My coworker uses a MacBook Pro, I use an iMac, both running El Capitan. We need to send a file from her computer to my computer very quickly. The file is over 200Gb. We don't have an external hard drive of that size, she can't zip it because her storage is low, and AirDrop is taking forever.

We do however have an Ethernet cable. But when I plugged it in, I was really at loss for what the next step should be. AirDrop needs Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so I assume it wouldn't use the cable. When we try with AirDrop it's very slow and usually fails, and it's not faster if the Ethernet cable is plugged in between the two computers (is the cable even detected?). I looked online and found articles that were very vague and didn't go into details, and when I went into the System Preferences to change settings in Sharing or Network panes I was afraid to mess up my preferences.

How can we quickly send this file over to the other computer (ideally using the cable rather than our slow internet, if that's faster)?

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can use an ethernet cable to quickly transfer files from one computer to the other.

It's really quite simple.

  1. Plug in the cable
  2. Go to System Preferences, and make sure that Ethernet is enabled. (it should be in the "Network" list.)
  3. Unlock the "Network" preference pane, and click on "Ethernet"
  4. Click on Advanced, and select "Manually" from the "Configure IP v4" dropdown.
  5. Type in an IP address that's not commonly used, so you don't have conflicts: i.e.
  6. Subnet Mask should be:
  7. Router should be:
  8. Repeat these steps on your friend's computer, but in step 5, enter: (the difference is the last digit)


  1. Make sure "File Sharing" is enabled in the "Sharing" preference pane on the computer you are connecting to, so your friend's computer, in this case.


Now, in Finder on your machine, click on the "Go" menu at the top of the screen, and select "Connect to server."


Type in, and click connect. You may have to authenticate (this will be her login name and password) and then you should be able to drag the file from her computer to yours.

To reverse these steps, just put both "Ethernet" connections back to DHCP.

  • For me, this solution doesn't allow me to use a wireless internet connection on either computer. How does one allow for sharing over an ethernet cable while still using the wireless for internet? Is it possible?
    – sammosummo
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 15:01
  • You have to set your connection priority by clicking the gear menu in System Preferences > Network and selecting Set Service Order. Make sure your wireless connection is at the top of the list, or at least, above the ethernet connection. This will make sure internet traffic is routed out the correct gateway (in this case your WiFi).
    – ryebread
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 18:51

This is how we ended up doing it (other answers might work, and are welcome). I will write this here because it worked and was somehow faster and simpler (meaning without modifying complex settings) than other answers I came across. The devices can be offline for this process.

1 - In the Sharing pane of the System Preferences, enable File sharing on both computers:

enter image description here

2 - Plug the Ethernet cable.

3 - Create a new Finder window on the computer you want to send the files from. You can do this with the shortcut N. You should see the name of the other computer appear in the Tab bar. If you don’t, make sure the Tab bar is visible (or press T simultaneously). Click the name of the other device. It should look like this:

enter image description here

4 - On top of your Finder window, look for "Not Connected" and "Connect as", which should look like this:

enter image description here

5 - You will be prompted to type the ID and a password of the other computer. This is the tricky part, because you have to type the ID of the other computer exactly as it appears on the other computer. Also, by default, the computer name that is written is wrong and needs to be changed. If you're not sure what the exact spelling of the name of the other computer is, you can go in the other computer's Apple menu () and look for the "Log out" name, or go into the other computer's System Preferences then access the Users & Groups pane where you can also find it.

enter image description here

6 - When you click on "Connect", you should see the shared folders of the other computer appear on your screen. Drag and drop the files you need to send on one of these folders, and the transfer should be much faster than Wi-Fi transfers. When you are done, you can either disconnect with the Disconnect button at the top of the window or by unplugging the cables that link the machines.

enter image description here

  • Maybe it`ll help somebody. When I was trying to move large files from target computer, copying lasted for several minutes, then stopped with an error (-42). Switching control helped, and copying from source computer into folder on target computer went smooth.
    – Zapko
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 18:31
  • I don't think this answer solves your question about transferring using Ethernet. This method will only use your existing Wifi network, You need to configure the Ethernet interface as shown in @ryebread's answer. At least, that was needed for me. Best way to check is turn wifi off on one computer (with this method) and you should see it stops working, unless you also configure Ethernet per the other answer.
    – jimtut
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 15:50

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