Wiring the Network

Most people connect their computers using one of two connection systems: Ethernet or WiFi.

Ethernet Networks

Every Mac (except the MacBook Air) has an Ethernet jack (Figure 14-1). If you connect all the Macs and Ethernet printers in your small office to a central Ethernet hub, switch, or router—a compact, inexpensive box with jacks for five, 10, or even more computers and printers—you’ve got yourself a very fast, very reliable network. (Most people wind up hiding the hub in a closet and running the wiring either along the edges of the room or inside the walls.) You can buy Ethernet cables, plus the hub, at any computer store or, less expensively, from an Internet-based mail-order house; none of this stuff is Mac-specific.

Tip

If you want to connect only two Macs—say, your laptop and your desktop machine—you don’t need an Ethernet hub. Instead, you just need a standard Ethernet cable. Run it directly between the Ethernet jacks of the two computers. (You don’t need a special crossover Ethernet cable, as you did with Macs of old.) Then connect the Macs as described in the box in Gem in the Rough: Networking Without the Network.

Or don’t use Ethernet at all; just use a FireWire cable or a person-to-person WiFi network.

Every Mac except the Air has a built-in Ethernet jack (left). It looks like an overweight telephone jack. It connects to an Ethernet router or hub (right) via an Ethernet cable (also known as Cat 5 or Cat 6), which ends in what looks like an overweight telephone-wire plug (also known as an RJ-45 connector).

Figure 14-1. Every Mac except the Air has a built-in Ethernet jack (left). It looks like an overweight telephone jack. It connects to an Ethernet router or ...

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