Sharing Remotely: iDisk

Sharing Remotely: iDisk

User Level:



individual user/.Mac account



If you're a subscriber to Apple's .Mac Internet services, one of the benefits is your own personal iDisk. I've talked about iDisks a couple times already in the book, but I want to discuss it here as a way to share files. Although an iDisk technically isn't part of OS X, I include it here for two reasons. First, many Mac users are .Mac subscribers. Second, and more importantly, since iDisks are hosted on Apple's servers rather than on your own computer, placing files that you want to share on your iDisk means that you don't have to enable any sharing services—which in turn means that you don't have to worry as much about the potential for security issues that enabling such services brings.

What Does It Share?

Your iDisk shares any files that you place in its Public folder. (The Public folder on your iDisk is independent of your ~/Public directory; however, the two are similar in that they are the only personal folders to which other users have access.)


If you give someone your .Mac username and password, they can view all files in all folders of your iDisk. If you want to securely share files with a group of people in different locations, buying a .Mac account and sharing the username and password is quite convenient.

Who Can Access Files?

Any user with an Internet connection, including both Mac and Windows users, can access your iDisk.

How Do I Configure It?

If you have only a single .Mac account, enter your .Mac username and password in the .Mac tab of Internet preferences. Then select Go iDisk (or press shift+command+I, or click on the iDisk toolbar item if you've added it to Finder window toolbars) to mount your iDisk in the Finder. Place any files you want to share in the Public folder at the root level.

If you have multiple .Mac accounts, an easier way to mount them is to use the iDisk Utility mentioned in Chapter 7, available from Apple's .Mac website ( In the Open iDisk pane, enter a member name and password and click the Open button.


If you have multiple .Mac accounts, or if you frequently access multiple iDisks, a much more convenient way to access them is using Location files. I discuss these Location files in the next chapter when I talk about how to connect to shares.

Finally, using either the iDisk tab of Internet preferences, or the Public Folder Access pane of iDisk Utility (Figure 10.2), you can control access to your iDisk's Public folder. You can decide whether other users have Read-Only access (which prevents them from editing or placing files on your iDisk) or Read-Write access (which lets them both access files on and copy files to your iDisk). You can also decide whether users will have to provide a password to access your iDisk's Public folder.

Click To expand Figure 10.2: Using iDisk Utility to control access to your Public folder

How Do Others Access Files?

Users of Mac OS X can access your iDisk in two ways. Using the Open Public Folder pane of iDisk Utility, they can simply enter your member name and click the Open button (if you've set your iDisk to require a password, they'll be asked to enter it; they should use "public" as the username).

OS X users can also access your iDisk by selecting Go Connect to Server (or pressing command+K) in the Finder, and then entering in the Address field. If your iDisk is password-protected, a dialog will appear; they should enter "public" as the username and your iDisk's Public folder password in the password field.

Users of other operating systems can access your iDisk's Public folder using the following techniques:

  • Mac OS 9 Choose Apple Menu Chooser, and then click the AppleShare icon on the left. Click the Server IP Address button on the right, enter in the Server Address field, and then click Connect. In the resulting dialog, enter your .Mac member name (and, if applicable, your Public folder password) and then click Connect. Unfortunately, according to Apple, users connecting from OS 9's Chooser, which connects via AFP (Apple File Protocol, discussed later in the chapter) rather than WebDAV (an extension of the HTTP protocol used for web pages), will not be able to copy files to your iDisk Public folder or save changes to documents that reside in your iDisk Public folder.

  • Windows XP Open My Computer and then choose Tools Map Network Drive. Enter (where membername is your .Mac member name). For authentication, use your .Mac member name and, if necessary, your Public folder password.

  • Windows 2000 Open My Computer and then choose Tools Map Network Drive. Click "Web folder or FTP site," and then enter the address provided above.

  • Windows 98 Open My Computer, open the Web Folders icon, and then double-click on Add Web Folder. Enter the address provided above.

Sharing iDisk Files Using a Web Page

In addition to providing direct access to your Public folder, you can also set up a web page that allows other users to view or download files located in that folder. Go to the main .Mac web page ( and click on the Home Page graphic. Log in to your .Mac account, and on the main Home Page page, click the File Sharing tab. Click a color for your File Sharing web page, and you'll be presented with the configuration screen. You can edit the text on the page by clicking the Edit button, and update the web page (if you've recently added files) by pressing the Update button. Once your File Sharing page is ready, press the Publish button to make your Public folder files available via the Web. (Once you do this, you'll be presented with the URL of your File Sharing page—make sure you keep a record of it.)


If you've given your iDisk's Public folder a password, be aware that iDisk's File Sharing web page does not honor that password. Thus, if you make files available using .Mac's Home Page feature, any user who knows your .Mac member name will have access to the files in your iDisk's Public folder. To prevent this, Home Page provides a way to protect your site with its own password—just click the "Protect this site" button on the main Home Page web page. Also, if you take advantage of the Home Page password protection option, be aware that both your username and password are case sensitive, so when you provide another user with the URL to your website, be sure the username portion of it is capitalized correctly.