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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.
2. Open the Connect to Server window
From the Go menu (Figure 2), click Connect to Server.
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.
Click Connect and a new window will appear asking you to verify you want to connect to the server (Figure 4).
Click Connect and you will then be prompted to enter the share credentials (Figure 5).
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).
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.