I have a few OSX systems on my home network and am trying easily share files between them. Each computer has file sharing enabled and I can view and add stuff to their public folders—that's all trivial and not a problem.

My issue is with the underlying ACL permissions of each of the shared files. When I add files to another computer's public folder, the permissions of the file remain. If the file is owned by me and the application that created it made it read only (or worse, gives it no permissions for the group or everyone), my wife can't view the file on her computer. She can't even delete or move it without authenticating.

The only way I've found to get around this is to put all shared files in the write-only Drop Box folder, which adds full permissions of the computer's owner's user account to the any file added to it. For example, if I place a file with 744 permissions for my UID, my wife's UID is added to the file, giving her full access over the file. If I place that same file anywhere else in her public folder, the file remains under UID's control and she can't do anything to it without sudo.

I've repaired permissions and the behavior is still there, so I'm assuming that's the way it's supposed to work.

So, how are we supposed to share files easily between our public folders when permissions are consistently a problem?

2 Answers 2


I think you're misunderstanding the nature of those folders. The idea of the Public folder is that you put the files you want to share into your local public folder, and then other users on the network can fetch them at their leisure. In order to send something to another computer, you drag it to their Drop Box—you've already experienced how that works successfully.

It sounds like you may indeed have your permissions screwed up, but not the kind that will be fixed by repair permissions, obviously. You actually shouldn't be able to drop things into a remote public folder, the permissions should only be 755, owned by user:staff. The Drop Box should be 733. Maybe in addition, you're authenticating unnecessarily in order to gain write access that doesn't really work the way it should? I dunno.

File sharing works the way you'd think it would for me, so I'm forced to assume something's screwy with the way you've been configured. Use Public for local sharing and Drop Box remote sharing, fix those permissions, and you'll be fine. (If you're skeptical, just create a dummy user account and use it as the model for proper permissions.)

  • Perfect - I was just totally misunderstanding the paradigm. I was trying to put stuff into other people's ~/Public folders instead of having them take it from me. That, um, "fixed" it for me (without having to change anything!) Thanks!
    – Andrew
    Dec 24, 2010 at 18:32

Given that scenario ( with only a few Macs and a couple of users ) have you considered using using Dropbox? You could turn off AFP and not have to worry about security implications of having it turned on. You could use Dropbox's Public folder as a shared repository files for yourself and your wife. It would seem to be a simpler solution without having to deal with propagating ACL's and other permissions issues.

  • We use Dropbox regularly, but it's not feasible for larger files (we do hefty Photoshop and InDesign work…). I don't really want to pay for more space on Dropbox when networking should just work for free in OS X.
    – Andrew
    Dec 15, 2010 at 4:56
  • @Andrew dropbox within same area network will not use internet bandwidth for transferring files. It is still a very good way for transferring even large files in your case, as long as you don't try to keep every file inside of it.
    – cregox
    Feb 2, 2011 at 19:31

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