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Even though the only folder I have shared is my Public Folder, I just tried connecting from my Windows computer (windows 7) through my home network to my Macbook (running sierra). After entering in my username and password, I see three shared folders: Macintosh HD, User's Public Folder, and User.

In other words, even though I thought I am only sharing my public folder, the entirety of my hard drive can be accessed by the other computer.

The settings I have in Sharing seem normal. SMB and AFP are checked (default). I also have enabled "Windows File Sharing."

Why is so much access given away?

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    Why do you say 'given away'? You identified yourself with username and password. You are NOT just a member of the public, your files are yours. – Whit3rd Dec 23 '16 at 5:53
  • I am wondering what's the purpose of specifying folders to share when logging in gives complete access. And there is no way of connecting without logging in. Maybe windows 7 is too old these days. – bernie Dec 23 '16 at 18:22
  • When you sit in front of your Mac and log in, you get access to your files. When you enable SMB or other network file systems, and sit in front of a PC and log in, you also get complete access (to the one account on your Mac into which you log in). It isn't sharing when you and only you have that access. If you log in with no password or username, you only get access to public folders; that's sharing. – Whit3rd Dec 24 '16 at 1:22
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When you connect to your computer (presumably) as yourself you will see absolutely everything on the computer as you are the owner. If you want people to connect to your computer and only see certain folders you will have to create local users that only have access to the folders that you assign them rights to.

It works the same way on Windows and Linux: you control access to folders (and the files within them) by assigning various users specific rights to specific folders.

Let's say you have two folders on your Mac "Accounting" and "Pictures." You only want your sister to access the Accounting folder because she takes care of your finances and that is where you put the spreadsheets and receipts that enumerate your finances and expenses. So you create an account for "sister" on your Mac and add her to the list of users who have access to that folder (which will be you (the owner of the Mac) and your sister).

But you want your brother, mom and dad to view the pictures and only the pictures. So you create three accounts (called brother, mom, dad) and add them to the list of users that have access to that folder.

Each user needs their own password (which you assign when you create the account) and a username which can be as above or uses their name, your choice.

And then when they need to access the files they log in with their username and password and only have access to the folders that you assigned them rights to.

That is a "10 mile view" of file sharing. I've not gone into details as there are lots of tutorials out there (you will have to learn how to use Google for this) that tell you in detail how to do file sharing on the Mac. But this gives you an outline of the process.

For a newbie it is annoyingly complicated, for someone who does system administration for a living, it's second nature and easy.

  • thanks for the explanation. i don't know why i was expecting a windows-like file sharing experience where logging on with a password still only grants access to specific folders – bernie Dec 24 '16 at 5:02

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