12/12/08
6:49 am

MacMost Now 171: Using Network Locations

Learn how to use Network Locations to allow your Mac to connect to different networks with different settings as you travel between locations.

Video Transcript
Hi! This is Gary with MacMost Now. Today, let's look at how to use locations to be able to change your network preferences easily when you move your MacBook from place to place.
If you have a MacBook, chances are you use it in more than one location. You might use it at home and at work, or maybe even at another office or at a vacation home. Each one may have different needs as to how to hook up to the Internet. For instance, one may do it wirelessly. Another may do it through an ethernet cable. One may have a static IP address, and another one may use a dynamic IP address.
It can be a pain to actually change your network settings all the time to accommodate your current location. Well, there's a solution for this built into the Mac OS X, and it's called locations. Let's go into your system preferences here, and click on network. Now, in there you're going to see all your potential network connections. In this case, I've got an airport connection, and it's enabled.
Now this location over here is set to automatic. If you've never used locations before, that's probably all you have: automatic and edit locations. If you choose edit locations, you'll find that you can add one to it. So let's add one, and call it home.
Now you can switch back and forth between automatic and home. Let's add another one. Let's call it work. Great. Now we've got home, work, and automatic. For home, when we're at home, we can go ahead and hook up to the local airport or other type of WiFi device and set settings, like maybe the DNS, or it's going to be dynamic, static, or whatever. At work we can change it to be something else.
Now once you've set these up, you can go into your network settings at anytime and switch your location: home, work, or leave it at automatic for the Mac to figure out for itself. But it's even easier than that. Once you have a location set up, you can go into the Apple menu and you'll see location appear underneath doc. In location you can choose home or work.
So it could be as simple as actually just choosing one of these as soon you set up your MacBook in a new location. There's even good reason to set up multiple locations for actually the same physical location you're in. For instance, say at work, if you've got an open WiFi network, but then you also have a specific network set up for your work group or in just your office. You can easily switch between them.
It may even work in a situation where you have your internal Internet connection, but you also have an external connection that you can access. So you can test out webpages if you're a webpage developer.
Another thing you may want to do with locations is create a location called offline, and actually take away all of the different ways you can connect to the Internet there. That way you can switch your laptop to be completely offline. This is a good thing to do when you're on an airplane, or perhaps you're somewhere where there's a lot of wireless hotspots and you just want to make sure your Mac doesn't connect to any of them.
Just a quick reminder that MacMost Now has an email newsletter. You can sign up for it at MacMost.com/newsletter. Now I usually put a lot of different things in there: some quick tips, the blog post for the week, a refresher on what videos have been published. Things like that. I also put a weekly review of what went on in the Apple world. So, check it out and subscribe. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.