AppleTalk Filing Protocol

Definition of AppleTalk Filing Protocol

AppleTalk Filing Protocol (AFP) is a network protocol that allows computers to share files and directories over a Local Area Network (LAN) using AppleTalk, specifically tailored for Apple devices. Developed by Apple Inc., AFP enables file sharing between Macintosh systems and offers better performance and features compared to other file-sharing protocols. However, its usage has declined with the introduction of new technologies and protocols, such as SMB, and Apple has discontinued support for AFP since macOS High Sierra.


The phonetic spelling of “AppleTalk Filing Protocol” using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is:/ˈæpl.tɔːk ˈfaɪlɪŋ prəˈtoʊ.kɒl/A simplified version using just letters and sounds that closely resemble those in the regular alphabet can be written as:”Ap-uhl-tawk Fai-ling Proh-toh-kawl”

Key Takeaways

  1. AppleTalk Filing Protocol (AFP) was designed as a network protocol specifically for Apple devices to allow sharing files across networks.
  2. AFP, commonly used in macOS environments, provides features such as efficient file transfers, user authentication, and support for various file attributes and Time Machine backups.
  3. Although AFP has largely been replaced by the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol for modern macOS systems, it is still supported in older systems and for backward compatibility purposes.

Importance of AppleTalk Filing Protocol

The AppleTalk Filing Protocol (AFP) is significant as it played a crucial role in the early development of computer networking, particularly for Apple devices.

Introduced in the late 1980s, AFP served as the primary file sharing protocol for Macintosh computers operating within the AppleTalk network, allowing users to easily and efficiently access, share, and save files across multiple machines.

It provided a consistent user experience in terms of file organization, management, and accessibility, while offering security and protection features such as password authentication and file locking.

Although other protocols like SMB and WebDAV have now replaced AFP, its historical importance lies in paving the way for innovation in communication and collaboration within computer networks, specifically for Apple users.


AppleTalk Filing Protocol (AFP) is a proprietary networking protocol designed to enable file sharing and communication between computers within an Apple-based network ecosystem. AFP’s main purpose is to facilitate seamless and efficient access to files and resources stored on remote devices, specifically catering to the needs of Apple’s operating systems, such as MacOS and prior versions, including Mac OS Classic.

By providing convenient and straightforward file sharing functionality, AFP enhances the user experience and simplifies collaboration among individuals working in a shared environment. Developed by Apple Inc.

in the 1980s, AFP has evolved over time, garnering various updates and enhancements to keep pace with the evolving technological landscape. One of AFP’s key features includes robust support for the metadata associated with Mac-specific file systems, including the preservation of critical information such as access rights, Finder attributes, and resource forks.

Over the years, AFP has been widely adopted in enterprise settings where numerous Macintosh workstations are connected to a server, ensuring secure and reliable file access to company resources. Despite the introduction of newer protocols, such as Server Message Block (SMB) and Network File System (NFS), AFP remains an effective option for file sharing within dedicated Macintosh networks, underscoring its ongoing relevance and value within specific computing environments.

Examples of AppleTalk Filing Protocol

AppleTalk Filing Protocol (AFP) was a proprietary network protocol developed by Apple Inc. in the 1980s for file sharing in Macintosh computer networks. It provided a simple and efficient way for Mac users to share files and resources over a local area network (LAN). Here are three real-life examples where AFP came into play:

Educational Institutions: In the late 1980s and 1990s, many schools and universities that had a major investment in Macintosh computers employed AppleTalk Filing Protocol. This enabled users, including teachers and students, to share files and network resources, such as printers, with ease on the campus network. This streamlined the process of sharing lesson materials, accessing course-related software, and facilitating collaboration among students and faculty.

Graphic Design Studios: Graphic design studios that primarily used Macintosh computers often made use of AFP for their internal file sharing and network resource management. AppleTalk Filing Protocol allowed designers to easily share large image files, project data, and individual resources in a secure and efficient manner, enabling quicker collaboration and increased productivity.

Small-Medium Businesses: AppleTalk Filing Protocol was widely used in small and medium businesses where Macs were the standard office computers. These businesses would typically rely on AFP to share documents, spreadsheets, and other files among employees across the LAN. It also helped centralize access to key network resources like printers and storage, simplifying overall network management.

AppleTalk Filing Protocol FAQ

What is AppleTalk Filing Protocol (AFP)?

AppleTalk Filing Protocol (AFP) is a proprietary networking protocol used by Apple Macintosh computers and compatible devices to share files over a network. AFP was designed specifically to support the features of the Apple Macintosh file system and has been included in Mac operating systems since System 6 in 1988.

What are the advantages of using AFP?

AFP offers a number of advantages for Macintosh users, including the ability to preserve file resource forks, support for long file names, support for file and record locking, and faster data transfers compared to other file sharing protocols such as SMB and NFS. Additionally, AFP allows for easy searching and navigation of shared resources within applications on the Macintosh platform.

Is AFP still in use today?

While AFP is still supported in current macOS versions, Apple has shifted its focus to the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol for file sharing between Macs and other devices. SMB provides compatibility with a wider range of devices and operating systems, including Windows and Unix-based systems. However, users with legacy Macintosh systems and older versions of macOS may still require AFP for file sharing with compatible devices.

Can I use AFP on non-Apple devices?

Although AFP is a proprietary Apple protocol, there are third-party implementations available for non-Apple platforms such as Linux, Windows, and NAS devices. These third-party implementations enable users to establish AFP file-sharing connections between Macs and other devices, providing a familiar experience for Mac users accessing shared files on non-Apple platforms.

How does AFP compare to other file-sharing protocols?

AFP was specifically designed for Macintosh systems, providing native support for Mac file system features and optimized performance for Mac users. Other protocols like SMB and NFS are more universally compatible across different platforms but may not offer the same tailored experience for Mac users. It’s important to choose the file-sharing protocol that best fits the needs and requirements of the users and devices in your network environment.

Related Technology Terms

  • Local Area Network (LAN)
  • File Sharing
  • Zone Information Protocol (ZIP)
  • Name Binding Protocol (NBP)
  • AppleTalk Session Protocol (ASP)

Sources for More Information


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