Connect two laptops: here’s how

Connecting two laptops is not difficult. You basically have several options for this. What is best also depends on the technical equipment of the laptops.

Nowadays, all computers are connected to each other through the Internet. But for extremely fast and above all immediate data exchange, it may be a good idea to connect desktops or laptops directly to each other. This mainly works via a network cable or a direct WLAN connection between the two devices. However, there are other options as well.


Connect laptops via LAN cable

This method essentially ensures the fastest data exchange, but requires both laptops to have an Ethernet connection. Thanks to this, the devices can be connected with a LAN cable and then directly exchange data.

  1. Open the control panel on one of the devices by pressing the “Windows + R” key combination and typing the “control” command in the run window.
  2. Click on “Network and Internet> Network and Sharing Center”.
  3. Then click on “Select adapter settings” and double-click on “LAN connection” or “Ethernet”.
  4. A window of settings for the LAN connection will now open; click on “Properties”.
  5. Double-click on ”  Internet Protocol (Version 4 TCP / PV 4)”
  6. Now enter a manual IP address such as, enter “” as the subnet mask, and confirm with ok.

Manual network



Manually entering IP addresses ensures that the two laptops can exchange data.

Image: © Microsoft / Screenshot: ACTIVATE 2021


Then you need to perform the same process on the second laptop. However, when entering the IP address manually, you need to change the last number, while the previous three numbers remain the same. In our example, we would therefore choose the address “”.

Now you have to go to “Control Panel> Network and Internet> Network and Sharing Center” on both laptops again and click on ”  Click on” Change advanced sharing settings “. In the following menu, select the option “Activate file and printer sharing” under “Private” and confirm with “Ok”.

WAN sharing



You can enable file sharing in the private network through the control panel.

Image: © Microsoft / Screenshot: ACTIVATE 2021


Next, you need to make sure that both computers treat the shared network as a private network. So you also need to perform the following steps on both devices.

  1. Open Windows settings and click on “Network & Internet”.
  2. Select “Ethernet” then right click on the network.
  3. Now make sure that the network profile is set to “private”.

You can then share individual folders with the other computer by right-clicking on them and checking the appropriate box under “Properties> Sharing”.

Connect laptops via WiFi

In principle, it works the same when the two computers are in the same WLAN network. In addition, you need to “Enable file and printer sharing” on both computers and set the WLAN as a private network, as explained above in the section on connecting via a LAN cable.

When this is done, you can share individual folders over the network by right-clicking on them and checking the appropriate box under “Properties” in the “Sharing” tab.

Connect laptops using a USB link cable

A little-known way to directly connect two computers is what is known as USB link cables. These are USB cables with an integrated USB controller which ensures that two computers connected via them perceive each other as data carriers.

Most USB connection cables come with their own software which contains its own file explorer for exchanging data between computers. With the help of this explorer, files or folders can be moved between computers using copy and paste.


Connect MacBooks to the Thunderbolt Bridge

Thunderbolt cables can also be used to connect two laptops together. It basically works with all Thunderbolt compatible devices. MacBooks with the so-called Thunderbolt Bridge offer a particularly easy method.

  1. Connect the two MacBooks with a Thunderbolt cable.
  2. Click on “System Preferences> Network” and select “Thunderbolt Bridge” if the entry already exists; otherwise, click on the plus symbol below and configure a new “Thunderbolt Bridge” connection.
  3. Repeat the process on the other MacBook.
  4. If Thunderbolt Bridge is selected on both devices, a connection should be established automatically after a short while.

As soon as MacBooks are connected via Thunderbolt Bridge, they can exchange documents or other data via “Share”.




  1. The best way to connect two laptops to exchange data is through a LAN cable.
  2. Alternatively, a shared WLAN can also be used for more or less direct data exchange.
  3. A little-known method is to use a special USB link cable.
  4. Two MacBooks can be connected through the Thunderbolt interface.

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