Accessing Course Account from Macs

This page describes some ways to connect to the course account from Macs.

Fill this out to make these instructions use your WatIAM ID and course:

Your WatIAM ID (ex. yc2lee):
Course Account (ex. cs115):

Connect using Samba (smb)

Samba lets you mount the course account as a drive/folder so that you can work with the course's files in a Finder window.

If you encounter connection issues like random disconnects or it takes forever to connect, an alternative to Samba is SSHFS, described below.

Getting Access: You will be given access automatically in your first week of work. If you don't have access, please ask your CSCF Point of Contact or your ISC (your ISC will then contact CSCF, because only CSCF staff can give Samba access).

Step 1 (if off-campus): If you're off-campus, like at home, first connect to the campus network using the UW Cisco AnyConnect VPN.

Step 2: Click on the desktop or the Finder icon in the Dock (bar at the bottom of the screen). Then in the Finder menu bar at the top of the screen, click on Go and choose "Connect to Server..."

Step 3: Use Server Address:


You can click the '+' button to save the address. Click Connect.

Step 4: For Name, enter your WatIAM ID (yourQuestID) and use your student.cs password (reset password if needed). Click Connect.

On some Macs, you may have to login as TEACHING\yourQuestID.

Connect using SSH in a Terminal

You can work with course account files by typing commands in a Terminal.

Getting Access: Find someone who already has access to the course account, like your ISC or fellow ISA. They can add you by editing the /u/csNNN/.rhosts file in the course account. The next time the clock's minute hand hits 4, the /u/csNNN/.ssh/authorized_keys file will be updated to include you, and then you can SSH into the course account. If you're in a rush and can't wait, you can edit the /u/csNNN/.ssh/authorized_keys file directly by adding your own /u/yourQuestID/.ssh/ key to the top of the authorized_keys file.

Step 1: SSH into your own account first. Open the Terminal and run:


For security, nothing will be displayed as you type in your password. Reset your password if needed.

Step 2: Once you're in your own account, run:

ssh csNNN@localhost

If you've created a passphrase, you'll be asked to type it in. If you're asked if you want to continue connecting, enter "yes".

Connect using SSHFS

SSHFS mounts the course account as a drive/folder like Samba, but it uses SSH. You will be able to work with the course's files in a Finder window.

Getting Access: You just need to be able to SSH into the course account. See previous section. The SSHFS program is automatically installed on ISA Macminis. On other Macs, download and install both "FUSE" and "SSHFS" from

Step 1: Open a Terminal and run these 3 commands. You don't need to SSH into anything, just run them when the Terminal opens. The second command will ask for your password because it connects to your own account.

  1. mkdir -p ~/yourQuestID ~/csNNN
  2. sshfs ~/yourQuestID -o volname=yourQuestID-ssh
    Type in your own password (reset)
  3. sshfs ~/csNNN -o IdentityFile=~/yourQuestID/.ssh/id_rsa -o volname=csNNN-ssh


  1. The first command creates folders where your account and the course account will be mounted. Your files and the course's files will show up in these folders. The -p means "do nothing if the folders already exist."
  2. The second command mounts your own account to the folder ~/yourQuestID. After connecting, an icon may appear on your desktop with the name yourQuestID-ssh which you can double-click on to see your own files.
  3. The third command is similar to the second command, but it mounts the course account instead of your own. It will use your SSH key to access the course account.

Step 2: Your account and the course account should show up as drives on the Desktop. If not, they should show up in your home folder (on Finder menu bar, click Go then Home). You can disconnect from the accounts by right-clicking the drive/folder, and choosing Eject.

Step 3 (optional): To save time, you can copy-paste the 3 commands into a file (for example, with name Then run bash command. This way, you won't have to type the 3 commands each time you log back in to your Mac.

Unmounting: Use the umount command for each account you want to unmount. For example, to unmount your own account and a course account, run:

umount ~/yourQuestID

umount ~/csNNN

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Topic revision: r11 - 2024-02-09 - YiLee
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