Share Files On Mac OS X Without Creating A New User Account By Using Apple ID’s

Apr 25, 2012 - 2 Comments

Share Files on a Mac without creating a new user account with Apple ID

OS X Lion and OS X Mountain Lion allow you to share files securely with another individual without creating a new user account for them. Instead, authentication gets handled by the individuals Apple ID, and a separate password is set to allow that Apple ID to share files and folders on your Mac. This is preferable to creating a new user account if you only wish to share some files and you don’t want to provide a user with complete login access to the Mac.

How to Set an Apple ID as a Valid Sharing Login

This taps into the systems Address Book to approve file sharing access:

  • Open System Preferences from the  Apple menu
  • Click on “Sharing” and be sure that “File Sharing” is enabled, as shown by the checkbox next to it
  • Under “Shared Folders”, select an existing folder or add a new folder that you wish to share
  • Under “Users” click the + plus button
  • Select “Address Book” and find the person whose Apple ID you wish to use as a valid share login, then click “Select”
  • Set a password and close out of Sharing

With that set up the user can now connect to the specified shared directory using only their Apple ID, they do not have an actual user account on the Mac and they could not log into it for purposes other than file sharing.

The login procedure using an approved Address Book entry is the same as connecting to any other shared Mac, just remind the connecting user their password will be different.

Connecting to a Shared Mac with Apple ID as the Login

  • From the OS X Finder, pull down the “Go” menu and select “Connect to Server”
  • Select “Registered Guest” and enter the Apple ID as the name
  • Use the password that was set by the user in Sharing rather than the Apple ID password, then connect as usual

Connect to a Mac Server using an approved Apple ID

You can assign as many Apple ID’s as necessary to a shared directory, and you could also assign different Apple ID’s to different folders.

This will even work for someone connecting to a shared Mac from a PC, the only requirement is a valid Apple ID, either from iTunes, the App Store, or from elsewhere in the Apple ecosystem. It does not work with Remote Login and SSH, however.

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Posted by: AJ in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

2 Comments

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  1. David Mendez says:

    You left out an important aspect – this works for *anyone* in Address Book! This provides one-time access to literally anyone for quick file sharing. It doesn’t matter if they are on Windows, Mac OS X Tiger, Snow Leopard, Linux, anything works. Create an entry in Address Book for them, set a password, limit their access to a single directory, that’s all they get! Secure, easy, simple.

  2. Beau says:

    Great to know, but fortunately nearly everyone I share with has Lion so we can just use AirDrop :)

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