Connect to Any Server from Any App via the Dock Quickly in Mac OS X
The most common way to access a network share is through the Finder, using the Connect to Server function. But there’s a faster way for quick server connection access: you can summon the Mac OS X server connection window from any app by right-clicking on the Finder icon in the Dock and selecting “Connect to Server.”
From here you can connect to FTP, SMB, VNC, local, or remote servers as usual – and yes they will open in the Finder, or their respective application.
Here’s where I find this most useful: if you’re viewing IP addresses, logins, paths, etc, from a webpage you can still access the Connect to Server dialog without obstructing what you’re trying to read in the web browser, which makes for easy transcribing:
As you can see in that screenshot, the Connect window hovers over the web browser, despite being in the Finder. This is far better than using Command+Tab or clicking through to the Finder if you have a bunch of Finder windows open, since they will all cover the browser window.
This works in all versions of OS X, by the way.
If there are servers that you access frequently, mapping them as a network drive can be helpful so they auto-mount each time you login or reboot your Mac. This is particularly useful for media center servers and drives where sharing files is common.