Connecting to a server or shared folder

These instructions assume youre on a network with Macs, PCs and servers. Computers may need to have file sharing enabled before you can find them on the network. To share files without a server or share particular files, photos and other data, see other ways to share at the bottom of this page.

Connecting to another Mac computer, server or shared drive

  1. Click the Finder icon. Or click the open or Save window in your app.
  2. If you’re in the Finder, click the Go menu at the top of the screen and choose Network.
  3. Select a server or computer from the sidebar on the left. Don’t see the server? Click the All button.
  4. If you see the folder you need, open it. You’re done! Don’t see what you need? Click Disconnect, then Connect As.
  5. If asked, type a user name and password. Names and passwords must exactly match those defined on the shared device.
  6. Check the box to remember the password to avoid having to type it each time. Then click Connect.
  7. Double-click the folder.


Need access when you’re off-site? Click for VPN instructions. Your network administrator will need to configure the VPN system on the server.

Showing shared drives icons on the desktop

Working with shared drives is easier when the icons show on the desktop. It’s easy to turn this feature on.

  1. Click the Finder (desktop), then click the Finder menu and choose Preferences.
  2. Click General and check the box to Show connected servers on the desktop.
  3. Drives appear only after you’ve connected with one of the methods above.
  4. Disconnect from a shared drive by dragging its icon from the desktop to the trash.

Tips & troubleshooting

  • No Shared section in the sidebar? Perhaps you’re not connected to the right network (check your Airport wi-fi or cable). Or perhaps no devices are sharing files.
  • Shared appears but nothing listed under it? Click to the right of Shared and click Show.
  • Can’t see all the shared devices? Click the All button.
  • Need quick access to a shared folder? Drag it to the right side of the dock near the trash. Or drag a folder to the sidebar of any Finder window (under Favorites). You’ll have one-click access in any open/save window. But remember, this kind of shortcut isn’t always reliable. If you have trouble, follow the steps at the top of this page.
  • Need to change your password? Follow the steps above to connect to another computer, server or shared drive. At step 4, click Disconnect, then Connect As. Enter your name and current password, then click Change Password and type the new password. Click here for help creating a secure password.
  • Share a screen. You can see another person’s screen (if they enabled this option in System Preferences-Sharing). Select a Mac and click Share Screen. Sign in as a defined user of that computer. (The owner's name and password should work.)

Other ways to share

Learn more about sharing & networking.

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