(Or: All the ways you can share your files with others.)
It used to be that sharing files with other people meant copying those files to a floppy (or, if you were lucky, to a CD-ROM) and then handing (or mailing) the floppy or CD to the recipient. The advent of high-speed Internet connections has changed all that, as most people can now use e-mail to send files back and forth. However, sometimes e-mail isn't the best solution—very large files and shared files that multiple users need to work on are a couple of good examples— and not everyone likes filling up their e-mail inbox with files.
Luckily, Mac OS X is the most flexible OS on the planet in terms of its varied offerings for sharing files and data (generally called sharing; shared volumes or directories are often called shares). You can share files with other users of your computer, over a local network, and even over the Internet. What's more, you often have multiple ways to share files with each group of people. In this chapter, I'm going to cover all of the ways in which you can share files, starting with local sharing and then moving on to network and Internet sharing. For each method of sharing, I'll make it clear what can be shared, who can and can't access files, how to configure sharing, and how other users can access shared files. I'll also show you how to go beyond the standard options provided by Mac OS X to make your Mac a supercharged sharing machine.
In this chapter I explain how other users can access your shared files; in the next chapter I cover how you can connect to shares on your own computer or other computers.
As you read this chapter, keep in mind that unless otherwise noted, "sharing" includes the ability to both read and write files. If you provide someone with access to a directory, they can not only read files within that directory, but they can usually copy files to that directory, as well. So sharing is not only a good way to provide access to files; it's also a good way for others to give files to you.
Most of the techniques in this chapter for sharing files require an Internet connection. I'm going to assume that you have Internet access and that you know how to connect to the Internet.
If you're sharing files remotely (over a network or over the Internet), you're opening up your computer to other users that you can't see and whose identity you can't verify. This means that if you enable any type of remote sharing, you should be sure that the users of your Mac have good passwords, and change them periodically; it also means you should consider some type of network/firewall security. I talk about these topics in Chapter 13.