It has taken a long, long time, but folder sharing has returned to the Mac OS. Back in the olden days, OS 9 and before, it was possible to share just about any folder in the filesystem. That sharing functionality simply made a folders data available to network users and allowed them permission based access to the date remotely. When Apple transitioned to the much more “robust” OS X, this feature was left by the wayside.
For years, the lack of such a basic level feature left the Mac community scratching their heads. It stood out as a glaring exclusion from Apple’s supposedly modern operating system. But with the release of OS X 10.5, Leopard, Apple will finally put this long standing inconsistency right. It will once again be possible to share nearly any folder on the computers drive with network users both on the LAN and over the internet.
Sharing a file is as easy as it once was, for those that can remember that far back. Simply get info on the directory that is to be shared and specify the users and groups that are to have access to the directory. Any user that has an account on the system can be selected to access the share. But what if a user needs access that doesn’t have an account on the system?
This is where Apple had to step up other parts of the OS to accommodate the sharing feature. Right from the sharing window where users can be granted permission, its possible to add a new user entirely. Simply specify the user name and password for the new user. Once this is done, the account displays under the Accounts pane in the System Preferences panel. The new account has a new permission type attached to it. The new account displays as a “Sharing Only” account. This means the user has access to the share but does not have login rights to the entire system. Simple and logical, just how we expect the latest and greatest OS from Apple Inc.
Prior to 10.5, it had been possible to accomplish similar folder sharing using a shareware product called SharePoints. The UI was fairly confusing but it was functional and it was the only way to share a folder without resorting to the even more daunting command line.
With the release of OS X 10.5 Leopard, we welcome the addition of many new and powerful features. And in at least one point, we welcome back a feature that has been missing for quite some time.