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Entries in network (2)


Connect to Network Shares Automatically at Startup

I've spent the vast majority of my professional life as an IT person. Whether as a help desk person, app developer, sysadmin or manager, I was submersed in the Microsoft world for a lotta years. Add a MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) certification to all that tenure and I think I qualify as an expert of that realm. After buying my first Mac in 2006, I quickly realized how I'd cheated myself out of years of computing pleasure by not entering the Apple world sooner. I've grown to love OS X for its stability, ease-of-use and UNIX underpinnings. As owner of an IT service business, I still have to deal with Windows almost daily, but now its something I endure out of necessity. Enjoyment is derived from my Macs.

As a well-versed Windows user, one thing that's always bugged me about OS X is it's lack of a few intuitive network functions I’d come to take for granted in Windows. The one that I had to find a fix for very early on was the absence of a "Reconnect at logon" checkbox when you connect to a shared network folder using the Finder's "Connect to server.." option from its "Go" menu (or CMD + K). I keep all my 300+ movies on a Seagate 4TB NAS (Network Attached Storage) to avoid soaking up over half my iMac's 1TB hard drive. This folder is shared across all my iTunes libraries. iTunes has no problem with this unless I forget to CMD + K before trying to watch one of these movies. OS X does allow me to connect to the "Movies" folder on my NAS when I login by dragging the mounted folder into the "Login Items" list in the System Preferences "Users" pane. When you do it this way, however, every time you log in, a Finder window showing the network share pops up for each share you connect to. It's not the end of the world, but it is annoying, especially if you connect to a few of these. As I added more shares, I wound up with a desktop full of Finder windows every time I logged in.

I eliminated this annoyance by using Automator to create an app to mount network folders, then adding that app to my login items instead of the individual attached folders. Guess what? Now when I log in, my shares are mounted and no Finder windows pop up. Here's the Automator build…


Here’s the steps to build it: 

  1. Open Automator (/Applications/Automator) and create a new application.
  2. From the “Files & Folders” section add the action “Get Specified Servers”
  3. Within the Get Specified Servers action click “Add…” and add the path to the network share. (Hint: If you’re unsure of what this is, right-click the connected folder in finder and select “Get Info”  In the Info dialog the path will be displayed in General:, Server:)
  4. Repeat for each share you’d like to connect to.
  5. From the “Files & Folders” section add the action “Connect to Servers”
  6. Save the application. (In this example I named the app “Vaults”)
  7. That’s it. (You’ll notice in the example that I added a couple of extra steps to add a verbal message. That is completely optional and unnecessary. I just like to have a alert telling me that everything is done.)

After this I simply dragged my new “Vaults” app into my list of login items. Now, every time I login, my two NAS shares are automatically connected and I don’t have those pesky Finder windows to close. Simple.


iNet: A 'Pretty' Network Sniffer

iNet instantly does what an hour's worth of terminal commands can do.This is an app that's a must-have for anyone in the IT business that uses a Mac. (If you think you need a Windows machine to do IT work, you are sadly mistaken!) A MacBook armed with iNet is a powerful tool for analyzing networks. No, it isn't as powerful as a well-versed Terminal user, but when you turn iNet loose on a subnet, it finds virtually any network device and displays almost anything you'd want to know about it in a very Mac-like manner. Need the IP address of your AppleTV? Want to see what wireless clients are connected to your router/access point? Anything that will answer a ping (a router, computer, printer, switch, wireless device, etc.) gets displayed in a three-column view. The left column is a selector for viewing either the entire IP network, Bonjour domain or routers and access points. The center column displays a list of your selection including an attractive icon for each device. The icons actually look like the equipment they represent. You can change a device's icon by selecting a different one after clicking on the device's name in the right "detail" column.

I'm not going to do a full review here. I just wanted to let everyone know that I think buying iNet for $5.99 is about the best use of six bucks ever.