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A few people here have only recently switched to Mac as their primary computing platform. People generally find most things to be easier and more pleasant to use on a Mac. However, there is frequently a point of confusion for a Windows user when they try to find their “network drives,” or mapped network shares that they had previously configured to automatically remap on login, and were displayed in “My Computer.”

This describes the methodology of mounting network drives in Finder so that they are easily accessible in normal workflow, minimizing the steps required to access those drives, and removing the need to remember if they have been mounted or not.

1. Mount the drives using Finder.

  • Click on Finder, and select “Connect to Server…” from the “Go” menu.
  • Connect to our primary data server “carbon” by entering “smb://carbon” in the “Server Address:” field and click “Connect.” Once Finder has connected, you will be able to select from the following shares: backups, documents, media, proposals, resources, temp, townhall, users, vault.
  • Repeat this process for all the drives you would like to be accessible. Repeat this process as well for other servers as well. Our primary web server, “nitrogen” (use “smb://nitrogen” in the “Server Address:” field), will give you access to the “wwwroot” share.

2. Create a “Network” folder in your user folder.
  • Open a finder window, and click on your username in the sidebar.
  • Control+Click (or right click) in the window and select “New Folder.”
  • Name the new folder “Network”

3. Create shortcuts to the network drives in the Network folder.

  • You should see all your network drives on your desktop. If you don’t, click your desktop, select “Preferences…” from the “Finder” menu, and ensure that “Connected servers” is checked.
  • With the newly created “Network” folder, as well as your desktop visible, select all your network drives and drag them to the “Network” folder. Your cursor should add a small curved arrow when you drag them over the folder.

4. Create shortcuts to the “Network” folder.

  • Drag the “Network” folder into your sidebar, preferably as the first item, above your username.
  • Drag the “Network” folder into your dock, next to the Trash Can.

5. Integrating into your workflow.

  • Remember that you don’t have to remember to “mount the drives” when you need them. Treat them as if they are already mounted and just use them. OSX will mount them as needed.
  • When saving a file from within an application, click the “Network” folder in the sidebar, and then choose the drive you want to open. If it’s mounted, it will be immediately accessible. If it’s not, there will be a slight pause as OSX mounts the drive.
  • When you are opening file, or need to browse the network drive, it is often easiest to click the “Network” shortcut in the dock and select the drive you want to explore. Again, if it’s mounted, it will appear instantly. If it’s not, it will mount automatically. You will see it appear on your desktop.
  • If you find the desktop icons of your network drives distracting, you can hide them altogether, guiding you to always use the dock or the sidebar as your first access to the drives. To do this, click your desktop, select “Preferences…” from the “Finder” menu, and uncheck “Connected servers.”

Keep in mind that this was written for OSX 10.5 Leopard, however this process will also work in 10.4 although the names of certain things may be slightly different. Also, this is just what I’ve found to be a streamlined workflow; it’s not necessarily “the way” ™ to do it. I’d love to hear what others do.

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