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Apple Filing Protocol

(also APF, AppleTalk Filing Protocol)

Apple Filing Protocol definition

Apple Filing Protocol is a network protocol developed by Apple Inc. that offers file services for macOS and Classic Mac OS. It's used for networked file access and sharing among Macintosh computers, allowing users to connect to file servers and access shared files and directories.

AFP supports features like file locking, permissions management, and user authentication. It's part of Apple's suite of protocols for network communication. Still, in recent macOS versions, Apple has shifted towards using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol for broader compatibility and support for modern networking features.

See also: Server Message Block, network protocols

History of Apple Filing Protocol

  • Origins. Apple Inc. developed the AFP in the 1980s. It was initially part of the AppleTalk networking system, which was Apple's proprietary suite of networking protocols to allow Apple computers to connect and share resources like files and printers.
  • Transition to TCP/IP. With the growing dominance of the internet and the TCP/IP protocol suite in the 1990s, Apple began transitioning its network services, including AFP, to operate over TCP/IP.
  • Introduction of Mac OS X. Mac OS X enhanced AFP's capabilities, including better performance, improved security features, and support for larger file sizes.
  • Integration with other technologies. AFP has been integrated with various other technologies throughout its development, including Apple's Bonjour networking service, which simplifies the discovery of services like file sharing on a local network.
  • Shift Towards SMB. With the release of Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks in 2013, Apple shifted away from AFP towards the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. SMB is a more universally supported protocol that offers broader compatibility with non-Apple systems and supports modern networking features.
  • Current status. While SMB has largely supplanted AFP in the latest macOS versions, Apple still supports AFP for legacy systems and applications.