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How to connect to a network share from the GNOME desktop

If you have other computers on your network that share folders, you'll want to know how to connect to them from your GNOME-based desktop.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Min Shin
Person working on laptop at home
Westend61/Getty Images

On my home network (aka Local Area Network, or LAN), I have a number of desktops and laptops that share directories such that all other machines can access them. This makes it very easy for me to access folders and files on any machine from any other machine. With this setup, I don't have to email myself files or go to extraordinary lengths to get a file from one machine to another. 

Shared folders make life much easier.

Also: How to create folders in GNOME 44 (and why you should)

When you're using the GNOME desktop (which defaults to GNOME Files as the file manager), how do you connect to those shares on your network? Although the feature is somewhat hidden (in plain sight, of course), it's actually fairly easy to do. Let me walk you through the process.

How to connect to shares on your network when using GNOME desktop

What you'll need: You'll need two things for this to work. First, you'll need a running instance of a Linux operating system that uses the GNOME desktop environment. Next, you'll need a valid share on another computer on your LAN that is configured such that you can access it with either a user or guest account. 

How you do this will depend on the operating system hosting the share. If the computer hosting the share is Linux, check ZDNET's handy guide to help you get those shares up and running. The final thing you'll need is the IP address of the computer hosting the share. How you retrieve that information will depend on the host operating system. 

Also: How to easily share a printer from the GNOME desktop

With those things ready, let's get to the connecting.

1. Open GNOME Files

The first thing to do is open GNOME Files. Click Activities in the upper left corner and then click the file cabinet icon in the favorites bar.

The GNOME Applications Overview.

Accessing GNOME Files from the GNOME Applications Overview.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Locate the share

Once GNOME Files is open, click Other Locations in the left navigation. In the resulting pane, you'll see all hosts that are discovered on your network. If you know the name of the computer hosting the share, double-click on it to reveal the folders shared from that machine.

The GNOME Files Other Locations window.

Devices on your network will show up here.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Access the share

Click the share you want to access and, when prompted, fill out the required authentication details. 

Also: How to choose the right Linux desktop distribution for you

Upon successful authentication, you'll have access to all the files and subfolders contained within.

The share authentication popup window on GNOME.

I would recommend selecting Forget password immediately or Remember password until you log out.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Accessing the share via IP address

If you don't see the share listed (or can't recall the name of the host computer) in the Other Locations window, you'll have to access the share by way of the IP address. To do that, you'll still need to open the Other Locations section in GNOME Files.

Also: How to change your IP address with a VPN (and why you should) 

At the bottom of the GNOME Files window, you'll see a Connect to Server field. In that field, you'll type the address in the form smb://IP (where IP is the IP address of the computer hosting the sare). Once you've typed the address in the proper form, either click Connect or hit Enter on your keyboard to open the same authentication window you saw earlier.

The Connect To Server address field in GNOME Files.

This is how I typically access a share on a network from GNOME.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

And that's all there is to connecting to a shared folder on your LAN by way of the GNOME desktop environment.

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