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Macbook Air and iMac sync

Posted on 2014-11-24
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-01-21

I have been using a Macbook Air for the last 4 years. I am thinking of getting an iMac to avail of a larger screen.

I was just going to buy the screen itself (please don't recommend buying a different brand monitor (i'm an apple sucker...)) however due to the price it would probably make more sense to get the iMac with the monitor too.

What's the story with linking your Mackbook and iMac so that you can work from either machine and access the same files and apps etc. Is there such a system in place? Thanks in advance for your help.
Question by:oo7ml
  • 3
LVL 24

Accepted Solution

Alan Henderson earned 1000 total points
ID: 40463576
For painless synchronization of data between Macs you need an Airport device. They're not cheap:


The easy way is to use services like DropBox, iCloud, and OneDrive:


If you're an Office 365 subscriber, you're in luck. You have unlimited storage and synch with OneDrive.

I find Dropbox easiest to use, but without referrals you only get 2GB of data.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 40463582
I haven't used AirPlay and Airport devices because I'm not prepared to spend that sort of money, I hope someone else can elaborate. Here's Apple's take on it:
LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 40463585
Not relevant to your question, but relevant to your aim. The MacBook Air teams beautifully with a Thunderbolt screen, but if you buy a new iMac, you have the choice of a Retina screen. And they're stunning.

Even if Apple come up with a Retina Thunderbolt display, it's highly unlikely that MacBook Air's will have the graphics grunt to cope in the foreseeable future.
LVL 41

Assisted Solution

by:Eoin OSullivan
Eoin OSullivan earned 1000 total points
ID: 40465076
MacBook with an external 27in screen is still just one computer which is  vastly different performance when compared to a desktop PC (iMac) and the added HD space etc where the MacBook Air is very limited.

Now if you decide to get an iMac and not a screen you open up the world of file sharing. You definitely don't need Airport (any wifi network will suffice) .. you can even directly connect device-to-device over wifi if you don't have a wireless modem/network.

You've no need to use cloud services as the MacBook and iMac can simply see each other on the wifi network and you can see and even directly work on files on the other device.  If the MacBook is away from home you can setup simple work folders on each device and run rsync or other sync software to keep the 2 systems up to date.  If you sync folders, then if the Macbook is away from the iMac you have all these shared files on the device .. and when back in range the edited files are copied back to the iMac.

Where it gets interesting and quite cool is using Screen Sharing .. you can enable on both devices and this allows you to work on the laptop when sitting at the iMac and vice versa.  With Screen Sharing you can work on the iMac from the MacBook screen and access the applications etc. from the iMac.  You cannot use a program on the MacBook unless you install it on the MacBook - apart from this screen sharing system.
With a program like Synergy on both macs you can use the keyboard & mouse to control both devices
You can use Home Sharing on OSX to allow you to view photos and play music, tv, movies etc. stored on the iMac but watch/listen on the MacBook without having to copy the media files onto the MacBook and use valuable space.

Author Comment

ID: 40465533
Cool, thanks for the advice guys, much appreciated.

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