Three approaches for quickly accessing shared folders in OS X

SharedFolderIconXDo you access shared folders often on your Mac? While the use of AirDrop, Messages, e-Mail, and online drive options are great for personal and workgroup sharing, often in corporate environments you might have central shared folders to store data. You might also have a theater system, file server, or other central storage set up on your home network that you might wish to access regularly.

Generally when you have a shared computer you would like to access from your Mac, you should be able to see it in the Shared section of the Finder sidebar where you can select and connect to it; however, this will present you with all shared resources on the system and require you navigate through various directories to get where you want.

An alternative to this approach is that once you have navigated to your desired folder, create an shortcut to that exact location. You can do this by the following options in OS X:

1. Use the Finder Sidebar or Dock

By simply dragging your folder to the Favorites section of the Finder sidebar, you can create an easy way to access it from any Finder window. As with the Finder, you can drag the folder to the right-hand side of the Dock’s separator bar, to create a stack or folder link.

2. Create Aliases

Hold the Option-Command keys together on your Mac, and drag the folder from the shared drive to your Desktop or elsewhere. When you do so, you should see a little curled arrow indicate the creation of an alias when you release the mouse. You can also select the item, press Command-L, and then copy the new alias to any location you desire.

Alias to shared folder in OS X

This alias in the Documents folder here points to the Downloads folder on a shared system. If you have multiple such aliases, you can store them in a single folder for easy access to your resources.

The main drawback here is needing to access the alias directly; however, if you have many such locations, then you can save them all as aliases in a folder, and then place that folder in the Dock or Finder sidebar for easy access to all of your aliases.

3. Use Server Favorites list

A final option is to use the Favorite Servers list, which is convenient because it can be invoked anytime by pressing Command-K in the Finder. Once you have connected to a shared server and have navigated to the folder of choice, you can add its full path to the Favorite Servers list by simply dragging the folder to this list from the Finder. Once added, you can select it to connect directly to the shared folder, instead of having to navigate your server’s shares to find your folder.

Favorite Servers list in OS X

The full path to the folder on your server will be accessed if you store it as a Favorite Server. In this case, the Documents folder on the shared server was dragged from the Finder to the Favorite Servers list here.

A hidden benefit of these approaches is that you will not need to purposefully specify the server, then supply login credentials, and then navigate to your folder, as all three steps will be accomplished by opening the link. If credentials are not stored in your keychain then you will still be required to supply them, but once done your folder should open and be ready to access. The only requirement here is that the shared system needs to be available to you on your network. For the most part, this simply means that if you can see it in the Shared section of the Finder sidebar, then you can use one of these shortcuts to access a folder on it.

One thought on “Three approaches for quickly accessing shared folders in OS X

  1. EdS

    I do this using the very hand utility, Default Folder. I have data on several server drives and I don’t really want to remember where they are. I remember the key folders I care about with Default Folder. When I choose to open a folder, I simply use DF. The server mounts and the folder opens. It takes a few seconds longer while the system mounts the drive and opens the folder. Effectively, this eliminates all the aliases to deal with. The added benefit is that DF provides a hierarchical menu for opening files or saving them without taking up any extra space that aliases take (wherever you put them). [I have no connection with the DF application except I am a long time user.]

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