Automatically mount an AirPort-attached USB drive

Reader Alec Lancaster finds it too much trouble to mount a remote disk. He writes:

I’ve attached a USB hard drive to my AirPort Extreme Base Station and use it as a storage location for all the computers on my network. This is convenient but I hate having to manually mount the drive whenever I log out or restart one of my Macs. Is there a way to configure it so it automatically mounts on each Mac’s desktop?

There is. One way to do this is to open a Finder window, select your base station from the sidebar (found under the Shared setting), and mount the drive. Then launch System Preferences, select the Users & Groups preference (called Accounts in earlier versions of the Mac OS), click on the Lock icon, enter your user name and password, and click Unlock. Now click on the Login Items tab and drag the icon of the mounted drive into the list of login items. Quit System Preferences. When you next log in or restart your Mac, the drive attached to your base station should automatically mount.

Unless it doesn’t.

And I offer these words of weasel because there are times when this doesn’t work. And I honestly haven’t a clue why. But I have found a more reliable solution that goes a little something like this.

Launch Automator and in the template sheet that appears select Application and click the Choose button. In Automator’s Search field enter server. From the results that appear below, drag the Get Specified Servers and Connect to Servers actions into the workflow area. Click the Add button in the Get Specified Servers action and in the Choose URL window that appears, select your base station. An address along the lines of smb://10.0.1.1:445 will appear in the Server Address field. Click OK.

Click the Run button in the workflow window. If you’re prompted for a name and password for the server, make sure that Registered User is selected and enter your Mac’s user name but the base station’s password—not the network password but rather the password necessary to configure the base station. Then enable the Remember This Password In My Keychain option and click Connect. The drive attached to the base station will mount on the desktop. Save the workflow to the desktop.

As before, we’ll add the workflow application to your login items. Same idea here: Unlock the preference and drag the workflow into the login items area. When you next log in or restart your Mac, the drive should mount. Repeat this procedure for each Mac you'd like to use with the networked drive.

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