How to mount a remote file system as a local drive in OS X

This tutorial will guide you through the process of setting up Macfusion. After installing Macfuse (easy) and then Macfusion (even easier), you’ll be able to mount a remote FTP or SSH host as a local drive. This allows you to access, read/view, write/edit and transfer files to and from your local hard drive to the remote one – as if it was local as well. Keep reading for the complete walk-through.

  1. First up, download MacFUSE from Google. The installation is pretty straight forward – mostly you’ll just click next a bunch of times. Once it’s installed, download Macfusion. To install it, just unzip the file and drag the app to your Applications folder.

    Launch it from there.

  2. You’ll likely be notified that the macfusion agent process has not started. If you’d like it to start each time you sign in, place a check in the Start agent automatically on login box. Either way, click the Start button.
  3. You’ll be presented with a rather plain Macfusion window. Lets start by adding a FTP site to mount as a local drive. Click the small + (plus symbol) in the bottom left corner. Select FTPFS from the drop-down list.

  4. click to enlarge

  5. Give your “FTP drive” a descriptive name in the top field, and then enter the appropriate information in each of the additional fields. The Path: refers to the location you’d like to have mounted once you connect. For example, when you FTP to your host and successfully login, you’re “placed” into a specific folder (usually something like /home/your-user-name/). If you’d like to specify a different location, do so in the Path: field.

    Click the Macfusion tab for a few more options.

  6. From here you can change the Mount Point: – if you’d rather have the drive show up in your Documents folder, you would enter something like /Users/your-user-name/Documents/. This tutorial assumes you’re using the default (which means leave it blank). If you’d like to give the volume a name other than the default (which is the host name), enter it in the Volume Name: field.

    When you’re done making any changes, click OK

  7. You’ll be prompted to allow Macfusion to store your login details in the keychain. Click Always Allow (unless you have reason not to – in which case click Allow.
  8. Now click Mount back in the main Macfusion Window. You may be prompted to allow the items in the keychain again.
  9. The status will change from (Unmounted) to (Mounted)
  10. Open a Finder window, and you’ll see your FTP host mounted as a local drive in the DEVICES list. You can browse it as you would any other local drive.

  11. click to enlarge

  12. You can read/view, write and edit files as if they were on your Mac.

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  14. To add a SSH drive the process is very similar. Select the + (plus sign) and then SSHFS from the drop-down list.

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  16. Again, enter the appropriate info in the spaces provided. Click the SSH Advanced tab when you’re done.
  17. From here you can change the SSH port if your host uses one other than 22. You can also select to Enable Compression (I didn’t) or de-select Follow Symbolic Links (I didn’t – it’s useful). When you’re done, click the Macfusion tab.
  18. From here you can change the Mount Point: the same way you can with FTPFS, or give your volume a name other than the default (which again will be the host). Click OK when you’re done.
  19. You’ll go through the Always Allow keychain process again, and then after clicking Mount, your SSH host will be mounted as a local drive.
  20. Now each time you launch Macfusion your sites will be saved, and you can quickly connect to them by clicking the Mount button.
{ 7 comments… add one }
  • SakuraWD August 4, 2008, 11:26 am

    I tried using this to mount an iPhone. It is a fight. It says now that it is mounted but it will not show up on my desktop or in /Volumes/~ I tried setting th mount point to my desktop but then it says “authentication failed…etc.” when I change it back to default (clearing that field like the way it “mounted” it still says “authentication failed…” and I have to delete the entry and start over it will NEVER reconnect on that same setup it HAS to be set up(exactly the same way) again for it to work. I hope they find some way on the iphone-dev or modmyiphone sites because this would be very nice.

    I wanted to do this so I could use a file sync to make a backup so a FTP client is out of the question as the sync program will not find it unmounted. Every other blog people say that FTP client is just fine… it is not, it is too restrictive.

  • Nano March 25, 2009, 4:55 pm

    SakuraWD
    I am also using my iPhone. Sounds like you did mount it but it won’t automatically reveal the mount point. To reveal it just right click on it and choose reveal.

    If you want to really make sure that MacFuse is mounting you can open the terminal (Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app) and type the following command where “iPhoneFiles” is the name of your mount.

    cd /Volumes/IphoneFiles

    then you can type ls to list your files

  • Erik February 3, 2010, 12:47 am

    When I use this method to mount my godaddy.com site as a drive, I can only access as read only, despite being able to read/write when I use an FTP client. Any ideas??

  • Jonathan November 30, 2011, 5:34 pm

    OMG do not do this on mac os lion. MacFUSE is not updated and has reported problems.

  • Riley W. January 6, 2012, 5:10 pm

    In an attempt to enrich this blog post, users on Mac OS X 10.7 aka Lion can install OSXFuse available at osxfuse.github.com. If you have already installed MacFUSE then you will notice that you cannot uninstall the software due to a bug. OSXFuse has an option to remove MacFUSE for you.

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