How to Become a Network Guru
About Two-Mac Networks
Networking two Macs together is both useful and relatively straightforward. Whether a two-Mac network is your final goal or you want to leave the option for expansion open, you’ll learn how to set up everything and minimize your costs at the same time.
People often set up a two-Mac network as a one-time connection to move files from an old Mac to a new one. If your network is going to be temporary, the emphasis will probably be on cost rather than performance. Most Mac users can set up a network using only a single cable, so the cost will be minimal.
Note for Owners of New, Colored Macs
Every colored G3, G4, and iMac comes with a 10/100BaseT Ethernet port (some also support 1000BaseT), which means that it can connect to any Ethernet network and automatically match the network’s speed.
Since these models lack serial (modem and printer) ports, they don’t support LocalTalk networks. If you need to connect one of these Macs to LocalTalk computers or printers, you’ll need to use an appropriate adapter. See the Mix LocalTalk & Ethernet page for more info.
What You Need for a Two-Mac Ethernet
The cheapest Ethernet connection, good for two (and only two) computers, is a crossover cable connection. A crossover cable eliminates the need for a hub by switching the cable’s send and receive wires internally. Because these wires are swapped, a crossover cable cannot be used as part of a hub-based network. For more information, see the New Network: Crossover Ethernet Overview page.
What You Need for a Two-Mac LocalTalk
The least expensive LocalTalk network consists of a single serial cable connecting the printer port of both Macs. Serial cables are typically used to connect Macs to printers, modems, and other peripherals, and are extremely common. Since most Mac owners have such a cable in their possession, the cost of this network is practically nothing. For more information, see the New Network: LocalTalk Serial Overview page.
Wireless Networking (AirPort)
Many Mac models released in the last few years can use Apple’s method of wireless networking, known as AirPort. AirPort works like a radio station, with a central broadcasting station (the Base Station) transmitting signals to receivers (AirPort cards) in the nearby Macs. The AirPort Base Station also performs NAT (Network Address Translation), so you can automatically share a modem or high-speed Internet connection across the wireless network.
Technically, you can have up to 255 Macs using a single Base Station at once, although the bandwidth is limited enough (it maxes out at about 1 MB/sec) that network performance would bog down before you got anywhere close to that number.
For more information about AirPort and setting it up, see the New Network: AirPort page.
Also in This Series
- Mac to Windows: Troubleshooting the “No Logon Servers Available” File Sharing Error · October 2004
- Using WEP Security on an AirPort Network · July 2004
- Whatever happened to…Threemacs.com? · September 2003
- Clandestine Wireless Networking and MacStumbler · July 2003
- Learning to Share With Others: Sharing Preferences Overview · April 2003
- Serving Files Using FTP in Mac OS X · December 2002
- Switching Between Networks in Mac OS X · November 2002
- The Audio/Video Quadras (660av, 840av) · September 2002
- Thoughts on Apple’s Xserve · July 2002
- Complete Archive