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Macs are amazing devices, that is why users tend to rely on them for the most part of their lives. From livelihood to important memories, as well as keeping in touch with people we love, the ever trusted Mac is an integral part of it. But what happens if your Mac isn’t physically around to help you? Fortunately, you can remotely access your Mac and gain of it using another Mac with internet access or even from a Windows PC. So, if you ever find yourself in a situation wherein you need data from your Mac sitting across the city or even halfway around the world, here’s how to access your Mac remotely:
Important: Make Sure Your Mac is Plugged In and Has Access to the Internet
The minimum requirements to access your Mac remotely are:
- The computer needs to have access to power, either through the main power outlet or its battery.
- The computer needs to have access to the internet through a Local Area Network (LAN), for Macs running in old OS.
- Wake on Demand needs to be enabled on the device. Wake on Demand is required, should the device be in sleep mode. To enable Wake on Demand on your Mac, simply open System Preferences, click on Energy Saver on the View Menu. If your Mac is in sleep mode it would be difficult to create a remote Mac connection without setting up Wake on Demand first.
Access Your Mac Remotely Through Apple’s Remote Desktop Software
The easiest way to ensure that you’ll be able to access your Mac from any location is to purchase Apple’s Remote Desktop software. However, before you can access your Mac remotely, you’ll need to configure your device for remote access using these simple steps:
- Open System Preferences.
- Click on Sharing.
- Click on Remote Management.
- Select which users are allowed to access the Mac remotely. You can also set what actions the remote users can perform on your Mac, such as control or observe only.
It’s important to note that Remote Desktop works best between two Macs on the same LAN. If you want to control your Mac through another computer connected to a different network using Remote Desktop, though it is certainly possible, the process is quite complicated. However, a more simple way to do this is to use Apple’s Back to My Mac service on iCloud.
Remotely Access Your Mac Online Using Back to My Mac
To use Apple’s Back to My Mac, follow these steps:
- Create an Apple ID, if you don’t already have one.
- Sign in to iCloud.
- Place a check on Back to My Mac.
Once you’ve set up Back to My Mac on your Mac, you’ll be able to remotely access that device through any other Mac using Screen Sharing, File Sharing, or a third-party app called Screens Connect.
How to Remotely Access Your Mac Using Screen Sharing
With Screen Sharing, the screen on your Mac will be transmitted via the internet to the device you’re using. As such, it would be as if you’re sitting in front of your own Mac.
- Enable screen sharing by opening System Preferences, then Sharing.
- Make sure that your user account is added to the list of users allowed access.
- To access your Mac remotely, you’ll need another Mac configured for the same iCloud account.
Screen sharing is a great option for when you want to access your Mac remotely. However, it can also come in handy when you want to help a friend out in another location who is also using a Mac. By setting up the Mac with an iCloud account, you can remotely access your friend’s Mac and perform any actions or troubleshooting steps required.
How to Remotely Access Your Mac Using File Sharing
Screen sharing may be a great way to remotely access your Mac from another location, but since sharing the screen does require a large bandwidth, it can be a cumbersome process especially in areas with a slow internet connection. If all you need are certain files on your Mac, using File Sharing would be a faster alternative.
However, you first need to ensure that File Sharing is enabled on your Mac by opening System Preferences and navigating to Sharing. You’ll then need to select the folders that you would likely need to access remotely.
How to Remotely Access Your Mac Using Screens Connect
If you’re a tech guru or at least have advanced knowledge in computer networking, then a trick you can try to remotely access your Mac is to use Remote Login. However, this procedure requires a static IP address, knowledge about your router, and knowledge in port forwarding.
If you don’t want to be bothered with all the technicalities of a Remote Login, a much simpler option would be to use a third-party application called Screens Connect. With this app, you won’t need to worry about all the technical mumbo-jumbo. All you need is an account and internet access.
It’s important to note that Screens is a Virtual Networking Computing (VNC) client. VNC works by setting up a VNC server, which would be the Mac you’ll need to control remotely, and then using another computer or mobile device to control it through Screens Connect. To get started, follow these simple steps:
- On your Mac, navigate to the Screens Connect site on your browser and download the Screens Connect app. You’ll first need to create an account, which should be simple enough.
- Once you’ve downloaded the app, just make sure that it is running in the background. You can do this by signing in to the app and checking the service status.
- When you need to connect to your Mac remotely, simply log in to the Screens Connect site using another computer with an internet connection. From there, you’ll be able to see the computers you can remotely log in to.
Screens Connect is a great program to log in easily to your Mac remotely, but you will not be able to use it if your Mac is behind a corporate firewall. So, if your Mac is in the office and your company has deployed a firewall, then this will block any remote login attempts from the Screens app.
How to Make Sure That You Can Access Your Mac Remotely All the Time
Whether you’re a frequent traveler or just want to ensure that you have access to the files on your Mac if you’re in another location, it’s imperative that you learn how to access your Mac remotely using different options. However, it’s also important that your Mac is in perfect condition at all times, so if the time comes to access it remotely, you’ll be able to do it without any technical glitches.
One way to ensure that your Mac is in perfect working order is to run 3rd party cleaning tools like Tweakbit MacRepair from time to time. Tweakbit MacRepair not only cleans your Mac of any unwanted or useless files but also optimizes it so it will be at its best performance at all times, especially when you need to access it remotely.
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Remote access to Mac, anywhere
While many countries are on a lockdown due to COVID-19, remote work is becoming a lifestyle. Remotely accessing a Mac is designed to be easy. Apple has spent a lot of time ensuring anyone can log in to their Macs — both desktop and laptop — from any other Mac device, anywhere. And, besides, there are a variety of third-party apps ready to help with that too.
Still, remotely managing their Mac sounds overly complicated to a lot of people. From how you connect to sharing files or screens to using your Apple device as a remote mouse, we want to demystify the process in the easy-to-follow guide below.
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How to access your Mac from another location
There're two ways: you can allow remote login to your Mac from another computer, or allow others to access your computer using Remote Desktop (it's available from the App Store).
Allow remote login to your Mac from another computer
For devices using the same macOS, you can allow remote Mac login using a Secure Shell (SSH). This enables Mac remote desktop access using a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).
To set up Remote Login:
- Go to System Preferences > Sharing
- Select Remote Login.
- Choose which users you want to have remote access or the ability to control your Mac.
You can either select All Users, which means any other device on your network, or any Mac you own, can access and connect, or click the plus sign to pick the exact users.
When you want to remotely log in to your Mac from another device, you need to know your username (the name that appears when you login) and your computer's IP address. Write them down and keep them safe, as allowing access to your Mac does make it potentially less secure, especially over cellular or public Wi-Fi networks.
Accessing, controlling, or viewing information on your Mac can be done with a built-in Terminal or any other SSH app using your username and IP address.
Allow others to access your computer using Apple Remote Desktop
Apple Mac Remote Desktop
With macOS Sierra remote Mac access and control is even easier. To set up it:
- Go to Menu > System Preferences > Sharing
- Select Remote Management - it should appear as a checkbox.
- Now you can select who has remote desktop access. Either select, All Users, which means any other device on your network, or Mac you own, can access and connect, or click the Add button(+), which gives you the ability to select who can have remote access and/or control.
If you are using a VPN or VNC viewer and want to access your Mac remotely, you will need to setup a password first. It is also possible to use iOS devices, such as an iPhone and iPad, through Apple Remote Desktop, available from the App Store.
How to stay on the same page with Screens
Collaboration has become of utmost importance to today's workplaces. And with more and more people working remotely, being on the same screen (ahem, page) is a must.
Screens allows you to work remotely with any computer regardless of your location. Whether you are on a business trip or traveling, stay confident knowing you can access any file on your home computer at any time.
This robust screen sharing tool for Mac supports:
- Multiple displays
- Drag-and-drop file sharing
- Hiding your remote screen while accessing it
- Accessing other computers (e.g. colleague's) as a guest
- Alternative shortcuts (useful when connecting Mac to PC)
- Custom actions in case of disconnection
To start using Screens, get the app from Setapp and configure the following:
- Remote login and remote management (as per the guide above)
- Install Screens Connect helper app and create a Screens ID on every machine you'd like to connect to in the future
- Use your Screens ID in the Screens app and it will automatically determine which of your computers are available for connection
Remote desktop client for Mac
Control any computer remotely – a perfect way to access your Mac from anywhere without limitations.
Share files between devices
Today we have plenty of ways to send and share files. But ask someone to send something, and you are likely to get it through email. Due to the ubiquitousness of email, it's still the default method for file sharing, despite its obvious flaws and constraints.
Fortunately, there are much better ways:
Native macOS File Sharing
Few people know that their Mac has native file sharing functionality built in. To use this feature, activate it in the Sharing pane of System Preferences by checking File Sharing. If you only want to share specific folders, add them to the Shared Folders list. If you only want specific users to access the folder, add them to its Users list. Otherwise, everyone will be able to access it.
Although not the most reliable solution, AirDrop works fine for occasional sharing a file between Apple devices. In the Finder, choose Go and then AirDrop on both the sending and receiving Mac. As soon as you see the receiver's user icon, drag the desired file onto it to send.
Read more about how to use AirDrop
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If you don't want to send files Mac-to-Mac directly but rather through a cloud storage, there is no easier way than Dropshare. The app works with numerous cloud providers, from Dropbox to Google Drive, and saves your files for sharing by simply dragging them onto its menu bar icon.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
The most technical but also the most robust way to share files from your mac is to use FTP, which you could do either through Terminal or an FTP Client, the latter being much more user friendly.
There are a few popular FTP clients one could choose from. The robust file managing app ForkLift covers most of the FTP functionality but takes it to the next level and could be a viable replacement for the Finder altogether with its quick search, instant previews, and file comparison.
DCommander is another full-featured file transfer app for Mac that combines speed and reliability, able to handle thousands of files, schedule backups, and even automate transfers.
At last, when it comes to sharing the same files on different devices, an app like ChronoSync Express becomes invaluable.
ChronoSync Express is powerful tool for sharing and transferring files from Mac to Mac, or any another Apple device. With a feature called Synchronizer Document, you can select which files need to be automatically synchronized and shared between devices, just like that:
- Create a new synchronizer document for each folder synchronization you'd like to perform
- Name the synchronization
- Change the Operation to Synchronize Bidirectional
- Select folders to sync on the left and right
- Test with a Trial Sync
Do you need to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)?
Whether you are working on your Mac directly, logging into your Mac remotely, or sharing access with someone else, security should be on top of your mind.
As a rule of thumb, you should always use a VPN when connected to a public Wi-Fi network, as someone could log in and see the information you send just as easily as you do.
And with remote access — even in the View Only mode — someone can see every file and document on your Mac, except those that are password protected. Unfortunately, if you leave passwords in a visible document, you expose yourself to immense risks.
A secure VPN client for Mac like Shimo is well worth using to stop unwanted eyes from lurking around, especially if you are sharing sensitive files, financial records or customer data.
Use Apple Remote With Macbook
However, for extra peace of mind and security, consider firing up your VPN automatically on all networks you are not 100% sure about to keep your emails, bank accounts and personal documents safe.
To share your Mac with someone else, download a remote Virtual Network Computing (VNC) app like Jump Desktop. With full remote access and Mac remote control, the other person — or yourself connecting to another Mac — can have the same level of control as the person using that device. Except for Admin level access, since it's password protected.
Starting with Jump Desktop is easy: either yourself (gaining access) or the person you are giving a remote view or control access to your Mac, needs to add details of the device and the password.
Secure your access with VPN
Get a VPN client for Mac to avoid privacy infringement while connecting remotely. It's secure and free to try.
Once permission is granted at the other end, remote Mac screen sharing or control (whereby you can use the iOS device as a remote mouse) becomes possible.
How to use your iOS device as a remote mouse
If your remote work starts on a patio hammock somewhere in east Asia, you should note that Apple iOS devices, such as an iPhone or iPad, can be used to control a Mac remotely, much like a mouse can control a desktop or laptop. Apps that make this possible work on VNC.
Remote Mouse is the easiest, most effective way to turn your iOS device into a wireless remote control for your Mac.
Although remote access through a local network would be most effective, since the closer you are to the device the quicker the connection, it's also possible from anywhere in the world, providing the network is secure and fast enough.
Setting up and granting access to the iOS device is the same process as when someone wants to access using a Mac. Except you need to give them a password. And make sure it is different from your primary Mac or iOS (App Store) one.
So working together or checking on your devices can be done from anywhere in the world and there are lots of ways to do that, from sharing screens and files to having complete access to a system set up far away. Setapp equips you with all the apps needed to remotely access any device you need and elevate your work to the global level.