Mounting Network Shares with ConnectMeNow
So, let’s start by explaining what “mounting network shares” means.
The simplest explanation would be:
Mounting Network Shares
Attaching a directory located on a different computer, shared over a network, to your computer as if it was a local disk drive.
Note: this is most certainly not the most complete, technical or most correct description, but for most regular users this will suffice.
The “different computer” can be another computer, a NAS (Network Attached Storage – like from QNAP, Synology, Western Digital, Seagate, etc.), or even a full size server. The Operating System of these “computers” does not need to be relevant. For example a QNAP NAS runs a Linux variant, however can share directories in a Windows originated format (SMB), and be accessed by a macOS computer.
Out of the box, under macOS, you’ll need to go through some hoops to “open” such a Network Share.
Either the “server” is listed in Finder on the left, and you’ll have to click it to be confronted with selecting a share-name and entering username and password, OR you have to use “Go” menu in Finder and select “Connect to server” option – which comes with even more questions.
Both options are rather cumbersome, if not slow, if you ask me (Apple: please pay attention here – this is a rather poor user experience!).
So this is where ConnectMeNow is supposed to come in. I just got tired of doing all this manual labor.
On that note: The Finder is even with ConnectmeNow not the best way to get to your mounted network shares.
When using ConnectMeNow, the easiest way is by going to the “/Volumes/” directory on your Mac where you’ll find all mounted network shares that are active.
More about that later, since ConnectMeNow also allows you to create your own directory where a mount should be placed and ConnectMeNow has the option in the menu to reveal the mount in Finder with a single click.
ConnectMeNow – What happened to version 2?
Just a quick note on the versions of ConnectMeNow, because I already hear folks asking: what happened with version 2?
After having released the original version (1.x), I started tinkering with a new version. The missing version 2.
However, the arrival of Catalina forced me to bring out a beta of version 2, as the original ConnectMeNow is only 32 bits.
This unfortunately was not my only application that was affected by the shift to 64 bit – so I started running out of time – big time.
My quick and sloppy fix: compile the beta as a 64 bit application – which worked, but it was unfinished and Dark Theme support was kind-a crappy.
Having learned more about the inner workings of macOS, I decided to start again from scratch.
I’ve called that new version, version 3 to avoid confusion with the outdated version 2.
Quick overview of Features
I think ConnectMeNow has quite a lot to offer,… to name a few:
- Protocols support for SMB, AFP, NFS, SSH, SSHFS, WebDAV and FTP.
- Dark Theme support
- AutoMount at startup, after a network change, and after waking up from sleep or standby
- Support for Fallback servers, for when a server is not available
- SSHFS (OSXFUSE) support with password entry or SSH keys
- SSH support with automatic password entry or SSH Keys
- Assistance to generate and install SSH keys on your server
- Mount, unmount, and Reveal in Finder from the menu
- Open or Close SSH connections from the menu
- Indication in the menu if a connection is active or not
- Grouping options in the menu
- Official Mount (Apple API) or Fast Mount support
- Mount in /Volumes/ or in your own prefered mount directory
- Mount/Unmount notifications
- Detection of Mount, Unmount, Standby/Sleep/Wake up, and network changes
- Sharing of configurations amongst multiple Mac’s
- Optional Ping and/or Wake On LAN before mounting
- Run script after mount completion
- Configuration backup and restore options
FTP – Read only!
Unfortunately, Apple’s implementation of the FTP protocol only allows us to mount an FTP connection as “read-only“.
SSHFS requires OSXFUSE (free!)
If you’d like to use SSHFS, and I can actually recommend giving it a try, then you must install OSXFUSE and their SSHFS extension.
Note: to my surprise, SSHFS is often faster than SMB. Added bonus: OSXFUSE allows you to add other filesystems to your Mac as well (ext3, NTFS, etc).
Your Mac keeps waking up …
Even though not related to ConnectMeNow; Something I have noticed on my Mac Pro – after midnight it kept waking up frequently, no matter what settings I used (incl. Disabling Power Nap, waking up from network traffic etc). I found that WiFi seems to be triggering this – I disabled WiFi and since then my Mac kept sleeping all night long … (Catalina 10.15.1 and 10.15.2)
Getting started with Mounting Network Shares and ConnectMeNow
Ok, so much for a quick intro, let’s get started with ConnectMeNow.
p.s. if you like ConnectMeNow, then a friendly request to please like it at Alternativeto.Net as well.
ConnectMeNow is now 64 bit, signed, notarized and Catalina compatible. You can downloaded here:
DOWNLOAD - ConnectMeNow-v3.0.1-macOS.dmg
Direct reference link: https://www.tweaking4all.com/downloads/ConnectMeNow-v3.dmg
| Download Now
Installation is easy: open the DMG file you have just downloaded and drag the ConnectMeNow icon to the Applications directory.
Removing ConnectMeNow is pretty easy as well: simply drag the ConnectMeNow icon from the Applications directory to the Trashcan.
You may also want to remove the configuration files, even though they are small, by simple dragging this directory to the trash, where “<username>” is your username. Note: In case you used a custom location for your configuration file, then you’ll have to remove those as well.
These are the only files related to ConnectMeNow.
The protocols, you may or may not have heard of, supported by ConnectMeNow are:
SMB, one of the most commonly used protocols for so called “Windows shares” or “Samba Shares’.
Note: back in the day there was CIFS. macOS still supports (kinda) CIFS, by implementing this in SMB. This can come with some issues, but it usually points to your server or NAS being very old and in desperate need for an update so it starts working with more recent SMB versions.
NFS or Network File System started in the mid 80s as a protocol to share disk space amongst different computers. It is still supported by quite a few platforms, but it is not used as much as SMB. You will find NFS on most Linux/Unix based machines, where it has its origins as well (Sun).
AFP or Apple Filing Protocol is Apple’s protocol for working with network shares. Obviously this protocol is typically only used on Mac based computers, and if the stories are true – which I think they are, even Apple is dropping it in favor of SMB.
FTP or File Transfer Protocol, has been around for quite some time and is often used to share files with a web server. For the longest time, FTP was the only way to download files from the Internet. It still is one of the most used protocols for those accessing web servers, but then I’m more talking about developers or admins who know what they are doing (most of the time anyway hahah).
Warning concerning FTP: a network share can only be mounted as read only! This is a limitation of the FTP implementation under macOS.
WebDAV or Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning, is not used very much either. I’m not 100% sure if this is really the fact, but to me it feels like an alternative to FTP, allowing the user “easier” and more reliable access to their web servers (WebDAV is afterall a HTTP extension – read: web server)
SSHFS or SSH File System, is maybe a little bit of an odd duck here. It runs file sharing over the SSH protocol. This comes with interesting possibilities, especially when a server or NAS is already running SSH (Secure Shell, kinda like a remote DOS prompt), since there is no need to install another network sharing protocol. The latter being great when you have no say in what is being installed on said server.
Now that I mentioned SSH: I do have to get into my NAS every now and then with SSH, so I have added SSH support as well.
SSH is not a network file share protocol like the other protocols mentioned here. It is most commonly used for a remote terminal/shell/DOS prompt.
For sharing a directory using a network share, most protocols rely on these parameters:
Server address, directory or share-name on the “server”, username and password.
Some protocols allow for some extra wiggle room, where the user can define a specific network port.
In a more professional environment, SMB shares can also require you to provide a so called “domain” name.
The use of domain is something you’ll see in companies, rarely at home.
ConnectMeNow in More Detail
I’ve included quite a few features and options in ConnectMenNow, so I’ll try to list them.
After starting ConnectMeNow, you’ll see a new icon in the menu bar of your Mac.
As you can see, ConnectMeNow does support Dark Theme:
ConnectMeNow in your MenuBar
At first start, the menu will be quite empty – after all, you’d still have to add your shares.
ConnectMeNow – Empty Menu at First Start
But once you’ve created shares, some additional features will be revealed.
The menu will show icons based on the selected protocol and they will indicate if a share or connection is active.
Additionally we can make groups in the menu, either by just using a horizontal line, or by adding a group name.
Here for example the group “QNAP SSH” – the horizontal line will always be there, except for the first item in the menu.
When setting a group name, it will show greyed out under the horizontal line – but using a group name is optional.
When clicking an inactive item (for example “Bender AllShares (SMB)”), ConnectMeNow will try to mount or activate the connection.
However when the connection is already active (eg. “Marvin AllShares (SMB)”) then a sub-menu will appear.
For mounted network shares this will show the option to reveal the mounted share in Finder (“Reveal in Finder“) or to “Unmount Share“.
With active SSH connections, you will see the option to “Close SSH Session“.
ConnectMeNow – Menu Features
Adding Shares to ConnectMeNow
Adding shares is done by selecting the “Preferences” option in the ConnectMeNow menu.
This will open the preferences window where you can define shares, do some generic settings, and review Network info.
Adding a new network share or SSH connection is done by clicking the “Create new share or SSH connection” button ( ).
By default you will be presented with the basic settings. Not many users will need the advanced settings.
ConnectMeNow – Example Basic Settings
Buttons and their purpose
On the left side, you’ll see a list of defined shares. At first this list will be empty of course.
Below that list you will see a few buttons and this is what they can be used for:
||Add a new network share or
||Add a new Horizontal Line
or a Menu Group
||Copy the selected connection which
can then be used as a base for a new share
||Open/Mount the selected connection
which can be used to test a settings
||Eject/unmount or close the selected
network share or SSH connection
||Move selected share one position
up in the list/menu
||Move selected share one position
down in the list/menu
||Sort all shares alphabetically
This will ruin menu groeps!
||Remove the selected share
||Clear the entire list
This will remove ALL shares!
After clicking the “Add new share” button, a new form will appear and in this form you can start by entering what the name should be in the menu, by entering this in the “Menu Label” field.
You’ll see a few options below that line allowing ConnectMeNow to automatically name your share based on selections you’ll make, like name of the server, connection type (mount type), remote path and if it utilizes Wake On Lan or not.
The next step is making a selection of what type of connection we’d like – set “Mount Type” to the preferred protocol.
When doing so, you may see some fields change or even disappear. This is related to the capabilities of the selected mount type.
In the next steps, the selected protocol may or may not support an option and therefore it will or will not be shown.
SSH and SSHFS do not support the selection of the path on the server – so that field will not be shown.
SSH additionally will not create a mount, rather it will open a shell window – so there is no option to reveal it in the Finder or define its mount path.
The WebDAV protocol supports HTTP and HTTPS – it is recommended to use HTTPS by leaving “Use HTTPS” checked.
Mount At Start
Each connection can be setup when ConnectMeNow starts by selecting “Mount At Start“, usually when you start your Mac or login to your Mac.
Reveal on Mount
Optionally, you can have Finder automatically reveal the mount after a successful mount, by checking “Reveal on Mount“.
SSH will not mount to a directory, so Reveal on Mount will not be available with this protocol.
For every server “kind” we will need to enter the “Server URL” – I mean, where else would we go right?
This can be an IP address or a computer name.
This should be only the IP address or computername – do not add the path on the server!
Note: Using computer names only works well, when your DNS knows the IP address that goes with this computer name. Not all setups work equally well with this when your Mac cannot retrieve the IP address based on the computer name.
Some protocols allow you to use a specific TCP/IP port number, for example: SSH, SSHFS, WebDAV and FTP.
Unless you know what you’re doing: leave the port number blank or to its default value.
This button allows you to do a quick ping to the server to see if it responds, which can be convenient to verify the Server Address.
Not all network devices allow you to ping them. Some have ping disabled intentionally.
Path on Server
Not all protocols support this (for example SSH and SSHFS), but this is typically the share name on the server (SMB) or the actual path on the server (FPT).
When left blank certain protocols, for example SMB and AFP, may result in a popup window asking for what share you’d like to access when mounting a network share – or the mount may fall all together.
The “Domain” name is only needed in a corporate setting where a domain is being used.
This is rarely used at home, and when used in a corporate setting you may want to consult with your IT administrator.
The mount location is used for all protocols except for SSH (since SSH doesn’t really “mount”).
In the mount process, a network share will be “linked” to a specific directory, for this specific mount (so each “mount” has its own directory) – your Mac creates this directory for you and it is by default located in the
Now in ConnectMeNow, we can actually replace
/Volumes/ with something else, and ConnectMeNow will create a unique directory name for your mount, in that custom directory for you if needed.
We have 2 options here:
- Use the default mount location, which mounts your share in
This is the default macOS mount location.
- Use a custom path, which allows you to mount your shares in a different location.
The default path I use is the directory “MountPoints” in your home directory (
The main reason to use a custom path is SPEED. Mounting to a custom path seems to go a lot faster.
You can set a different custom path per share, however I would not recommend that – stick to one “Volumes replacement” directory to avoid confusion.
Since SSHFS uses OSXFUSE, mounting in the default location is not supported since Apple has locked down this directory. Third party applications have no direct access to
Naturally we like to keep things secure so login credentials can be used as well (username and password),
If not entered, when mounting a share, you will be asked for username and password.
The password can be revealed, however you will be asked for permission to reveal this information. This can only be done by an admin (which usually is you).
For SSH and SSHFS: Generate & Install SSH Key – ConnectMeNow supports using a password for SSH and SSHFS. However, using SSH keys instead of a password is safer. Please read the section at the end of this article, on the use of SSH keys for more information.
The Fallback server allows you to select another server for when the mount to this server fails.
Which can be practical for the use of backup servers, or for example use share1 for when you’re at home, and share2 for when you’re at work (laptop).
If the fallback server fails as well, then ConnectMeNow will try to mount the fallback server of the fallback server, etc.
A fallback server must to be defined as a regular share before it appears in the list.
This fallback server must be using the same protocol.
To avoid endless looping, only 4 fallback servers can be set in sequence.
In some scenarios a helpful tip or warning will be displayed at the bottom of this form – please do take the time to read these messages!
To accommodate some special wishes, you can also do some advanced settings by clicking the “Go to Advanced Share Settings” button.
Returning to the basic settings is done by clicking the “Back to Basic Share Settings” button when the advanced settings are being displayed.
ConnectMeNow – Example Advanced Settings
Ping before mount and/or Wake on LAN
When checked this option will first send a quick ping for a share is being mounted.
This can be useful when a server, or other network device, switches to a low power mode (for example spinning down the hard disks).
The ping can then possibly trigger the server to spin up its disks, allowing for a speedier mount process.
When Wake On LAN is enabled, this ping will be done before the Wake On LAN – just in case the server is already awake.
Wake On LAN before mount attempt
It is not uncommon, to save money on power, or because you are environment conscious, to have your network devices to go to sleep when not used for a while.
This option allows you to send a wake-up call to the server, so we can actually reach it and mount our share or open up our SSH connection.
You’ll find a few functions here that may make things a little easier.
For example a button to paste the MAC address or IP mask (“Paste“),
a button to have your Mac try to find the MAC address (“Detect“) which will be based on the “Server Address” field in the basic settings,
and a button to “Test Wake On LAN“.
See also: miniWOL v2 – Quick and Easy Wake On LAN Utility where you can also find more information on how Wake On LAN works.
Run script on mount
This was a special request; some users like to run a shell script after mounting a network share.
Since I have no use for it myself, testing has been minimal so your mileage may vary.
Attempt Auto Mount on Network Change
ConnectMeNow keeps an eye on your network connections. When checking this option, ConnectMeNow will try to mount this network share if the server is available.
Adding a group works in a similar way. Click the “Add Menu Separator” button ( ).
This will create a new horizontal bar for the menu.
Optionally you can give this “group” a title by entering text in the “Menu Label” field.
- If the horizontal line is the first item in the menu, then this line will not be shown (a limitation of the menu),
- In case you used a group title (Menu Label) and want to remove it; simply blank the “Menu Label” field,
- The Menu Label, or Group Title, will show as greyed/disabled in the menu to distinguish them from actual network shares.
Preferences & SSH Keys
The tab “Preferences & SSH Keys” gives you access to some more generic preferences.
ConnectMeNow – Preferences and SSH Keys
Default Values for new Shares
In this section, you can predefine some values for when you create a new share.
This can save you some time when having to enter a lot of shares, or for example when you always like to use the same settings.
The displayed fields work the same as the same fields seen when you create a new share.
An additional option you will find here is the option to make a backup, or do a restore of your settings and your shares – which can be convenient for backup purposes or for when you’d like to copy the settings to another computer and you do not have the option to share these settings for example through DropBox (more about the below).
When restoring a backup: keep in mind that your current settings will be overwritten!
These settings are for ConnectMeNow in general.
With the option “Start ConnectMeNow on computer start“, your Mac will automatically start ConnectMeNow when you boot your Mac and/or login to your Mac.
This will add or remove ConnectMeNow from the “login items” in your Mac’s System Preferences.
Next to this option you will see the option “Remount shares after waking up from sleep“.
The purpose of this function is to check if all mounted shares are still available after your Mac wakes up from standby or sleep mode.
ConnectMeNow gets notified by macOS when your Mac goes to sleep, and at that point quickly checks which connections are active.
macOS will also notify ConnectMeNow when your make wakes up again.
At that point, ConnectMeNow will compare existing connection with the connections that existed before your Mac went to sleep.
If there are connections missing, ConnectMeNow will try to remount those connections automatically.
Remount after waking up does not waste any extra resources – macOS will just notify ConnectMeNow automatically.
ConnectMeNow can show mount/unmount event notifications, but not all of us are fond of these kind of notifications.
Unchecking the “Show Notifications” mutes all ConnectMeNow notifications.
Having mentioned notifications; ConnectMeNow has been setup so that macOS will actually tell ConnectMeNow when a network share is being mounted or unmounted – this way the icon in the menu can show you if a connection is active or not.
However, an SSH connection is not really a mount action and therefor macOS will not report a new SSH connection or the disappearance of such an SSH connection.
The work around in ConnectMeNow is using a timer, that during idle time will check and see of an SSH connection is active or not.
This is activated through the “SSH Status check“, and every x number of seconds, if idle, ConnectMeNow will check the SSH status.
If you have “SSH Status check” disabled; the menu of ConnectMeNow will not show you if an SSH connection is active or not. So if you don’t care for this indication for SSH, or if you do not even use SSH: feel free to disable this option.
Now the next item is the “Custom Preference Location” – one of my favorites.
The idea behind this was to share my ConnectmeNow preferences amongst all my Mac’s and with the old ConnectMeNow I have seen some users even do this company wide.
Naturally, sharing my settings through a network share would work, but it kinda defeats the purpose since we’d need to mount the network share first before ConnectMeNow can actually access these settings.
So for this purpose I use DropBox – since DropBox is synced amongst my Macs automatically (same for Google Drive, OneDrive etc.).
In my case I’ve created a separate directory in DropBox that holds my settings and each Mac uses ConnectMeNow, pointing to this DropBox directory.
Each time I change my settings, the other Macs will be in sync as well.
In case you’re selecting a location that already holds ConnectMeNow settings, then ConnectMeNow will give you a choice: use the existing settings or replace them with the settings it just found.
Note: ConnectMeNow v3 is NOT compatible with settings from older ConnectMeNow versions (v1 or v2)!
By default the Preference window will open in the center of the screen, and not all of use “love” that.
So I’ve added the option to “Remember window position” so the next time the Preference window opens, if this option has been enabled, it will open in the same place again.
SSH RSA Key
See the section below on SSH keys for more detail.
In short: here is a tool that can generate an SSH key for you, or verify that it exists.
The default location will be used for this (
~/.ssh/ ) and it will generate the files “id_rsa” and “id_rsa.pub” for you.
This tab is more of an information tab than anything else. I’ll admit … I loved playing around with this, but I’m not sure anyone really needs it, but it has been quite helpful for me while testing and I enjoyed tinkering with it.
You will find 3 sections here:
ConnectMeNow – Network Information
This section shows you the existing network connections your Mac is aware off.
You can see per connection if they are active, what their IP address is and what their device name is (en0, en1, etc).
In this section you can see the WiFi access points that your Mac is seeing … or totally nothing if you do not have WiFi or WiFi has been disabled.
Per WiFi access point you can see the channel, signal strength, if it is password protected, what the access point name is and (bold) if your Mac is using an access point.
Current ARP Entries
This is a list of entries ARP on your Mac, is aware of.
This list keeps changing over time, and pressing “update” every now and then will show you more and more devices your Mac seems to see in the network.
SSH Logins – Use a Password or a SSH Key …?
Standard SSH can be used with either a username and password, or by using a username and a so called “SSH Key”.
The latter being more secure and often much faster than just using a regular password.
ConnectMeNow supports both methods, and deep down this is also used for SSHFS, since SSHFS uses SSH as well.
Now, using those “SSH Keys” is all nice and dandy, but it can be a little cumbersome if you have never used it, or only have used it maybe once or twice in the past.
More detail on how these “keys” work can be found in the article: SSH Login without a Password
ConnectMeNow does provide a few tools that can make life easier;
You have to create these keys (a private and a public key) only ONCE!
If you generated new keys, for some reason, you will need to copy the new keys to server again!
The “Generate & Install SSH Key” or just “(Re)Install SSH Key” will only appear if username and password are entered!
ConnectMeNow will only use SSH Keys when the password is blank!
Generate Private and Public keys, and Push the Public Key to the server
For the server to work with these kind of keys, we will need to give the server our so called “public key”, which can be done with the button “Generate & Install SSH Key” or “(Re)Install SSH Key” (if you already have a key generated before) in the form where we define our shares.
- Your login credentials are required to push the public key to the server – so enter your password and username.
- Click the button “Generate & Install SSH Key” and ConnectMeNow will generate keys if needed, and it will try to push the public key to the SSH enabled device.
- Once successfully pushed to the SSH device: clear the password field – this way ConnectMeNow knows that it should use the keys instead of the password.
- Leave the username as is – it is still used to setup a connection.
Login with SSH keys
Once you’ve pushed the key to the server and you cleared the password field of the share, ConnectMeNow can start using the keys to login to your SSH enabled device. But it will only use the key if you actually cleared the password field.
All the steps combined in a short video
Here a short video how this works.
In this video we had not yet generated any SSH keys. We just started out with creating a new SSH connection.
The steps I followed in the video:
- Create a new share (click the button)
- Enter a name for the share in the “Menu Label” field
- Set “Mount Type” to “SSH“
- Enter the server address
- Check “Login with credentials“
- Enter username
- Enter password (this is where the button becomes available)
- Click “Generate & Install SSH key”
(since you have a key after this, the button will read “(Re)Install Key” for the next connection you’d want to use this for)
- Click “Yes” when ConnectMeNow asks me to blank the password (button disappears now!)
- Click the “Mount a share” button to test the connection (click the button)
- Terminal pops up and logs into your SSH enabled device.
Keys can optionally also be generate on the tab “Preferences & SSH Keys“, you’ll see a button “Generate SSH key” in case you do not have an SSH key stored in the default SSH directory on your Mac (
~/.ssh/ ). This default directory is where SSH will try to find the key when you start a connection with a server.