The easy way to share files between user accounts on a Mac

By , Jun 29, 2016


If you have multiple people using your Mac, especially those of your own friends or family, and they have their own user accounts separate from yours, then you may sometimes find yourself in predicaments where you may want to transfer files from one account to another.

You don’t have to go out and buy a USB flash drive to do this. OS X actually comes with a useful feature built right into it that lets you share files between user accounts, and in this tutorial, we’ll show you how to use it.

Transferring files between user accounts on a Mac

To transfer a file from your user account to another, all you have to do us utilize the Shared folder found in your Macintosh HD folder.

To get to it easily, you can open a Finder window, and go to Go > Computer in the Menu Bar. Then, you’ll go to Users > Shared.

OS X Shared Folder

Once you’re familiar with the location of your Shared folder, it’s important to realize that you’ll be using this folder from now on to transfer files from one user account to another.

Basically, anyone with a user account on your Mac, whether they’re an administrator or not, will have access to the Shared folder on your OS X account. So, naturally, you should take care to only place the files you want to share in the Shared folder and nothing else; especially not private documents that are only intended for your eyes.

Using the Shared folder to transfer files between users

To share a file with all users on your computer, you’ll follow these steps:

1) Drag a file you want to share into the Shared folder.

File to Share in Shared Folder

2) Now, log out of your account on your Mac, and let the other user of your computer log into their own account.

OS X Login Screen iDB

3) That user will now navigate to the Shared folder by using the Go > Computer option in the Menu Bar while Finder is in the foreground.

Go Computer Mac Menu Bar

4) Next, they will navigate to Macintosh HD from Finder.

Macintosh HD folder

5) Now they’ll open the Users folder.

Macintosh HD Users Folder

6) The next step they’ll take is actually opening the Shared folder.

OS X Guest Account Shared Folder

7) From here, the user should see the file you put there to share.

Shared File OS X

Note: Other users on your Mac can copy the file to their Desktop or another folder on their account and then they’ll be able to use it in any way they wish.

And that’s all there is to sharing a file between OS X user accounts.


Sure, it seems like a lot of steps at a first glance, but trust me, this is a lot easier than it looks; especially when you get the hang of it.

It’s a great option to take advantage of, especially if you don’t want to trust your loaded USB flash drive in the hands of someone else and you simply want a way to quickly distribute a file among one or all of your OS X users.

This feature is particularly useful for Mac administrators at schools who want to make files available to all students in a classroom that might be using the same Mac.

On the other hand, the usefulness of this feature can span to families who have multiple user accounts on their Macs at home too, such as allowing a child to share their homework with their parents for them to double-check, or for siblings who may be sharing different kinds of files among each other.

Something to keep in mind is that this feature isn’t limited to the Mac administrator sharing files with other users; quite the contrary. Other OS X users can do the same steps outlined above to share files with you, the Mac administrator, or with other standard users on the computer.

Wrapping up

When you need a free and efficient way to share a file(s) with multiple users on your Mac, there’s no better way than using Apple’s own file-sharing features that are built into OS X. Why pay for a USB flash drive to transfer files between users when your Mac already comes with file-transferring capabilities?

Also read:

How did this file sharing technique work for you? You can share in the comments.

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • Chris Wagers

    Thanks for the tip!