Mapping a network drive is the process of linking your Mac to a network attached storage device. Unlike installed hardware, OS X does not automatically detect network devices. We need to install them and set them up before we can use them. So here is how to map a network drive on Mac.
Whether you’re a business or home user, network storage is an excellent resource. For business, network storage comes in the form of server storage, SANs (Storage Area Network), NAS (Network Attached Storage) and cloud services. Home users can utilize the same technologies but would have less use or budget for SANs and are more likely to use NAS or cloud storage.
What is a network drive?
If you’re a computer newbie, we should cover the basics first. So what is a network drive? What is a SAN and NAS and what can they do for you?
A network drive is any type of storage connected to a router. These are usually made up of computers that act as servers to provide storage, a NAS or SAN. A NAS device can be as simple as an external hard drive connected to your home router or as complicated as a dedicated NAS device with its own hardware and multiple drives. Either way, the device attaches to your router via Ethernet and makes its drives available to authorized users. It is a great way to have central storage that everyone can use.
A SAN is essentially a more complicated NAS that can have multiple drives available from within the network. These are usually only used in enterprise.
NAS are useful for home users so they can share movies, music, files or games across multiple computers within the same house, apartment block, dorm or whatever. Cheap to buy, simple to set up, they are very popular indeed.
So that’s what you need to know about network drives. Now let us get on with attaching one to your Mac.
Map a network drive on Mac
Once OS X finds a network drive, you will be able to connect to it and access the resources you have permission to access. We can configure OS X to automatically mount the drive in future to save having to do this every time you want to access something. Mounting is the technical term for opening the drive for use.
- Open Finder and select Go.
- Select Connect to Server and enter the address of the network drive. The format will likely be something like ‘smb://NASdrivename/diskorfoldername’ or ‘smb://192.168.1.15/ diskorfoldername’.
- Select the ‘+’ icon to add it to your favorites list.
- Enter the username and password to access the resource when prompted. Select ‘Remember this password in my keychain’ to avoid having to enter the login every time.
- Select the new icon to access the contents of the network drive.
As you enter the login details of the network drive you should see a new drive icon appear on your desktop. This will be the share. Now you can double click or right click to access the contents of that drive as you would any other.
If you don’t have the network address to hand, you can do one of two things. Select the little clock icon to reconnect to a previously used network drive or Browse. Browse will perform a quick search of your network to locate the network drive if the drive has been set up for network discovery, which is automatic on most network devices. Once the drive is located, select it and click the ‘+’ icon as above.
Automatically connect to a network drive on Mac
I mentioned earlier that you can configure OS X to automatically mount a network drive every time you start your Mac. This makes it easy to access shared resources with the least effort. Here’s how.
- Perform the above steps to map the network drive.
- Open System Preferences and select Users & Groups.
- Select Login Items and uncheck the lock icon in the bottom left.
- Drag the network drive icon into the Users & Groups window to link.
- Check Hide next to the drive to stop it opening a window.
From now on, every time you log in or reboot your Mac, the network drive will appear and be available for use the same as your installed drives. Now you should be able to access shared resources on any network you are connected to at the time.
So that’s how to map a network drive on Mac. Simple when you know how isn’t it?