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How to connect macOS to a shared folder on your network

If you need to connect to shared directories on your network from a macOS device, Jack Wallen is here to show you how.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer on

macOS goes out of its way to make just about everything easy. Nearly every aspect of the desktop is about as user-friendly as it gets. This holds true even when connecting your device to a network share on your LAN.

What is a network share?

Simply put, it's a folder that lives on a machine within your local network that is accessible from other machines. 

Here's how it works. Olivia works on machine A and has a folder called Public that is shared out to the network. The Public folder is configured in such a way that a special account (named guest) has access to the folder. Anyone on the LAN (who has the credentials for the guest account) will be able to access the contents of that folder. Depending on how Olivia has configured access, those users might only have read access or they might have full read/write access. 

How do you connect to a network share?

That's what I'm going to show you and I'm going to demonstrate it on macOS Monterey from an M1-based MacBook Pro.

Once upon a time (back in macOS v 10 and earlier) you use to be able to view all machines on your network but that feature is no more. In its place, you must manually connect to each server from within Finder. That's what we're going to do now.

To make this work, you'll need four things: 

  • A shared directory on your network
  • The IP address of the computer hosting the shared directory
  • A user account that can access the share (unless the share is configured for anonymous access)
  • A device running macOS.

Let's make this connection.

Connecting macOS to a network share

1. Open Finder

The first step is to log into your device and open Finder (the macOS file manager). With Finder open (Figure 1), click the Go menu entry.

The macOS Finder window.

The macOS file manage, named Finder, is quite easy to use.

Image: Jack Wallen

2. Open the Connect to Server window

From the Go menu (Figure 2), click Connect to Server.

macosshare2.jpg

You can also open the Connet to Server window with the Command+k keyboard shortcut.

3. Connect to the server

In the top text field (Figure 3), type the address of the server in the form of smb://SERVER (where SERVER is the IP address of the server hosting the share). For example, if the host IP address is 192.168.1.62, you'd type smb://192.168.1.62.

The Connect to a Server popup window in macOS Monterey.

Connecting to a server on my LAN from within Finder.

Image: JackWallen

Click Connect and a new window will appear asking you to verify you want to connect to the server (Figure 4). 

The Connection Verification window in macOS.

You must first verify you actually want to connect to the remote server.

Image: Jack Wallen

Click Connect and you will then be prompted to enter the share credentials (Figure 5).

The credentials window for macOS network share connections.

The network share credentials window.

Image: Jack Wallen

Click Registered User and then type the username and password for the user associated with the share and click Connect.

If there are multiple shared directories on that server, you'll then be prompted to select which one you want to use (Figure 6).

The share listing shows all of the available shares.

I have 5 shared directories on my server.

Image: Jack Wallen

Once you've successfully authenticated, Finder will open with the contents of the shared directory so you can start working with the files.

And that's all there is to connect to a network share from macOS. Enjoy all that glorious access to those directories on your LAN.

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