I have two identical Macbook Pro Retina laptops. How can I transfer files between them?

I have looked at the AirPort utility, but don't see a way to "create a new network" let alone make it discoverable by the other mac.

I tried enabling File Sharing, but I don't know how to tell the other mac to connect to that share (they are both on the same Wifi, where should I look for it?)

Also I tried the Bluetooth file transfer wizard but don't see the other device.

I've also tried AirDrop, but I can only send small files this way. I have a folder with many files that adds up to 450Mb and that just times out.

What other ways should I try connecting the hosts together?

  • Have you tried creating a .ZIP archive and sending that over AirDrop? Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 0:12
  • I've experienced some wireless routers (usually the cheap ones) freeze up when lots of data is passed through them in a very short amount of time. AirDrop should work fine if your wireless infrastructure is reliable. Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 3:02
  • 1
    AirDrop doesn't use your current wireless infrastructure, it creates an ad hoc network between the two computers. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 19:25

4 Answers 4


After enabling File Sharing on one machine, it will give you the name of the machine as used to connect to it. Next, go to the other computer, and open Finder. You should see the name of the other computer in the sidebar. If you don't, then press Go -> Connect to Server, and connect to the other machine by the name that was given in the Sharing window.

When you connect, you should see the public folder of your user account, and the Drop Box folder in there. Copy the file to the Drop Box folder by dragging it onto the Drop Box folder. On the target computer, open Finder, your user folder, the "Public" folder, and the "Drop Box" folder, and you will see the file that you copied.


Here are two more options:

  • Use a thunderbolt cable to transfer the data between the Macs. To do this, reboot the source Mac while pressing the "T" key. This will allow the destination Mac to access the hard drive directly.

  • Depending on what is being migrated, the Migration Assistant may also be of use if transferring all the applications, one or more user directories, etc. to the other Mac. This works over Wifi/Ethernet, and over Thunderbolt


If you have quite a few of these large files, the fastest way is definitely using a thunderbolt cable and transferring files in target disk mode. There's full instructions here, you'll also need a thunderbolt cable, you can probably get one from your local computer store for 20 or 30 dollars, or Apple sells a 2m one for $49.


As mentioned by a few others, using a Thunderbolt cable works great. Here's details on how to do this without having to reboot the source computer (as described by this article):

  1. Connect the two computers via thunderbolt cable
  2. Make sure File Sharing enabled on source computer (Setting -> Sharing -> check File Sharing)
  3. On source computer, go to Network Settings, highlight Thunderbolt Bridge, and note the IP address (e.g., "169.254.XXX.XXX").
  4. On destination computer, open Finder, use the Go menu's "Connect to Server" option (or type Cmd-K when Finder is focused).
  5. Type the source computer's IP address into the server's location in this window
  6. You will be prompted to login; use user that has appropriate permission to access files you want (you may need to add files via File Sharing settings on source computer).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .