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Take Control of Sharing Files in Leopard
Nov 26, 2007

Take Control of Sharing Files in Leopard

Don’t buy this book!

Even if you are using Leopard, you should instead buy Take Control of Sharing Files in Snow Leopard. This Leopard book was great when it was released, covering all the latest Leopard details with a 2007 outlook. 2007 was about a century ago in Internet years, so when we created the Snow Leopard edition in 2009, we created it with an eye to including Leopard users. The changes in Mac OS X between Leopard and Snow Leopard are not that large, but the changes in the world overall make the Leopard ebook somewhat obsolete.

More Info
Update Plans

October 2009 – We have no plans to update the Leopard edition of this book, but the Snow Leopard edition is now available.

Posted by Tonya Engst

  1. Snow Leopard Data Loss Bug

    Apple has publicly acknowledged a rare but nasty data-destroying bug related to using the Guest account in Snow Leopard. The bug appears to be associated with having a Guest account already set up before you upgrade to Snow Leopard. While there is currently no fix available, we hope to see one in 10.6.2. To learn more, check out my TidBITS article, Apple Acknowledges Guest Account Data Loss Bug. [This bug was fixed in 10.6.2.]

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  2. Home Sharing vs. iTunes Sharing

    Home Sharing, a new feature in iTunes 9, makes it possible to easily share media among family members (or any group where everyone is authorized on the same iTunes Store account). While the feature is a clear win for sharing iPhone apps, several Take Control authors have been perplexed by Home Sharing, either because the feature didn’t perform as they’d expected, or because it’s difficult to concisely explain the differences between it and the old iTunes Sharing feature. Thankfully, Take Control author Ted Landau’s recent Mac Observer article tackles the subject. If you’re interested in gaining a deeper understanding of how to share media in iTunes, check it out!

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  3. Home Sharing via iTunes

    With the release of iTunes 9, Apple added a new sharing option called Home Sharing that appears, at first glance, to solve some sharing issues. Home Sharing can automatically copy all purchased media from one machine to another, and the feature makes it easier to copy media occasionally from one library to another. It absolutely simplifies allowing each iTunes user to maintain their own metadata (such as star ratings). However, Home Sharing also means that you wind up with multiple copies of the media stored all over, and it is a disappointment for those of us hoping that Apple would create a sensible media sharing service aimed at families.

    Home Sharing allows iTunes 9 to copy media shared from iTunes from one computer to another (up to five in all). The option can be set to automatically synchronize media that you’ve purchased from the iTunes Store: when you buy music or video on one computer, the media files are automatically copied to another. Most other items can be manually copied, but there is no synchronization option.

    Note that Home Sharing makes it significantly more convenient to share iPhone apps.

    Tip: For set up steps, read To solve problems, see

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  4. New iDisk Feature for Easier File Transfer

    Earlier this month, Apple announced a new iDisk sharing feature. Working on the Web site, a user can select a file stored on their iDisk, and then just fill in a few simple options to send an email message containing a download link for that file and a custom message. All the recipient need do is click the link in the received email message. You can read more about it, and get directions, in Joe Kissell’s TidBITS article Apple Adds iDisk Sharing Feature to MobileMe.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  5. Dropbox for Synchronized File Sharing

    Dropbox is a new option that might appeal for sharing files among multiple computers you own and among work groups of varying people. It’s an Internet-hosted offering that provides 2 GB of storage for free, and 50 GB for $9.99 per month or $99 per year.

    To use Dropbox, you install a small program under Mac OS X or Windows, as well as several flavors of Linux. The program creates a folder where you tell it to that looks just like a regular folder or directory. However, any items placed into, removed from, or modified within that directory are immediately and automatically securely synchronized with all other copies.

    For an individual trying to keep certain files up to date among multiple computers, Dropbox is a simple way to avoid having to set up archives. While iDisk within MobileMe ($99 per year for all MobileMe services) can achieve this, it’s not a good option for non-Mac users, and it has delays in synchronizing. It’s also, frankly, not very clever about how it performs updates.

    Dropbox also shines for workgroups. You can, via the service’s Web interface, take any folder and share it to a group of people you select. On accepting an invitation to share the folder (via email notification and then the Web site), the folder appears in their Dropbox folder and, again, works like any other folder.


    p>Dropbox also archives files as you modify them, allowing you to download older revisions via their Web site. It also hosts simple photo galleries, and more. You can read more about Dropbox at TidBITS in Dropbox: A Collaborator’s Dream.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  6. Sharing Update in Mac OS X 10.5.5


    p>Apple made a minor change to how the File Sharing service displays shared volumes, along with the accompanying explanation, in its Mac OS X 10.5.5 update that incorporated Security Update 2008-006 on 15-Sep-2008. Before this update, the list of Shared Folders excluded Public Folders in other user’s home directories. Those now appear.

    Apple also improved the text that explains what’s shared. An user account with administrative access enabled can access any mounted volume, including the hard drive from which Mac OS X started up. This wasn’t indicated prior to 10.5.5, and is a minor security flaw by omission.

    The view before 10.5.5:

    The view starting with 10.5.5:



    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  7. PureFTPd Manager

    I’m embarrassed to say that I just now noticed that PureFTPd Manager, a Mac OS X package that allows you to install and work with a great FTP server, was updated last fall to work with Leopard. The software, which is donationware, lets you use PureFTPd, a high-quality FTP server with an enormous number of configuration options. PureFTPd Manager gives you a control-panel-like interface to set each of these many options. If you’re planning on setting up any Mac as an FTP server, I cannot recommend Leopard’s built-in FTP server due to its limitations. PureFTPd I recommend wholeheartedly.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  8. Various Sharing Facts & Tips

    I just learned a few facts which might aid readers of this book regarding a few semi-related areas. These are noted below.

    Sharing Only Users Limited to AFP

    In the current edition of the book, I don’t made it clear that Sharing Only users can only access volumes over a network via AFP (Apple Filing Protocol). Only full account users can access volumes via FTP and Samba, as well as AFP.

    FTP Doesn’t Restrict Access to Shared Folders

    While this might be obvious, I never stated in the book that Leopard’s FTP server doesn’t limit access to those users connecting via FTP to just the volumes and folders specific in the Shared Folders list. FTP doesn’t have a mechanism that allows a selection from among multiple volumes. Thus FTP users who connect can traverse all hard drives and mounted volumes on a system through paths that they have at least read-only access to.

    This is another reason to not use Apple’s FTP server - or to use FTP at all, in my book (figuratively and literally).

    Guest Users Have No FTP Access


    p>While mentioned in the book in passing, I have confirmed with Apple that the lack of access to a computer via FTP using the password-free Guest account is not a bug; it’s intentional.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

The Author

Glenn Fleishman is a veteran technology writer who has contributed to dozens of publications across his career, including Macworld, the New York Times, Wired, the Atlantic, and the Economist. He has also written dozens of editions of books in the Take Control series. Glenn lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.