While many countries are in lockdown due to COVID-19, working from home is suddenly becoming a lifestyle. Accessing a Mac remotely should be easy. Apple has put a lot of effort into ensuring that all users can access their Mac, whether desktop or laptop– from any other Mac and from anywhere. Besides, there are also some third-party apps for this purpose.
However, operating a Mac remotely still sounds unnecessarily complicated to many. From connecting to sharing files and screen content to using an Apple device like a mouse, we want to demystify the whole process a bit with our following easy-to-understand guide.
Access your Mac from another location
There are two ways: you can allow “remote sign-in” to your Mac from another computer, or you can allow others to access your computer using the Apple Remote Desktop app (available on the App Store).
Allow your Mac to be signed in remotely from another computer
If both devices use the same version of macOS, you can allow sign-in from a remote Mac using Secure Shell (SSH). This allows remote desktop access to the Mac via SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol).
To set up Remote Login:
- Go to“System Preferences” > “Sharing”.
- Click Remote Login.
- Select the users you want to be able to access your Mac remotely.
You can either select “All Users,” which authorizes every other device on your network and each of your Macs to connect and access, or you can use “+” to specify specific users.
If you want to sign in to your Mac remotely from another device, you need to know your username (the name displayed when you signed in) and the computer’s IP address. Make a note of this data and keep it safe, as the ability to access it will potentially make your Mac more insecure, mainly if it is accessed over the cellular network or public Wi-Fi networks.
You can access and edit data using the built-in terminal or any other SSH app using your username and IP address on your Mac.
Allow others to access your computer via Apple Remote Desktop
Starting with macOS Sierra, it becomes even easier to access and control your Mac remotely. To set up the function:
- Choose Apple Menu > System Preferences > Sharing.
- Select “Remote Management” – check the checkbox.
- Now you can choose which users get remote access. Either choose All Users, which authorizes all other devices on the network and all your Macs to access, or click the Add (+) button to authorize specific users to access and/or control.
If you use a VPN or VNC and want to access the Mac remotely, you need to set a password first. The Apple Remote Desktop app (available in the App Store) also allows you to use iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
Stay up-to-date with screens
It is impossible to imagine today’s working world without cooperation. And as more and more people work from home, everyone must stay on the same level.
With screens, you can work from anywhere with any computer. Whether you’re on a business trip or the go, you can rest assured that you’ll have access to every file on your home computer at all times.
This reliable screen sharing tool for Mac supports the following:
- Multiple monitors
- Drag and drop file sharing
- Hide remote screen during access
- Guest access to other computers (e.B. from colleagues)
- Alternative shortcuts (useful when accessing from Mac to PC)
- Custom actions when disconnecting
To use screens, get the app from Setapp and follow these steps:
- Set up remote login and remote management (as described above).
- Install the Screens Connect helper app and create a Screens ID on each computer you want to connect to in the future.
- When you use your Screen ID in the Screens app, it automatically determines which of your computers can be connected to.
Share files between devices
Today, there are numerous ways to send and share files. But when you ask someone for a file, they’re most likely to send it via email. Since e-mails are a simple solution in almost every situation, they are still the most common method for exchanging files despite all the obvious disadvantages and limitations.
But fortunately, there are now even better options:
File sharing from macOS
Few know that the Mac already has a file-sharing feature built-in. To use this feature, enable the File Sharing service under Sharing in System Preferences. If you want to make only specific folders available, add them to the Shared Folders list. If you wish only particular users to access the folder, enter them in this shared folder’s “Users” list. Otherwise, anyone can access the folder.
While AirDrop is not the most reliable solution, it is sufficient to share a file between Apple devices occasionally. On both the sending and receiving Macs, choose Go > AirDrop in the Finder. Once you can see the recipient’s user icon, drag the desired file to send it.
If you don’t want to send files directly from Mac to Mac but want to exchange them via cloud storage, it’s hardly easier than with dropshare. The app works with numerous cloud providers from Dropbox to Google Drive and saves the files to be shared by simply dragging them onto the icon in the menu bar.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
FTP is the most technically complicated but also the most reliable way to share files from Mac. You can use either Terminal or an FTP client, but the latter is much more user-friendly.
There are a few typical FTP clients you can choose from. The robust file manager ForkLift covers most FTP functions and takes them to a new level. With its quick search, instant preview, and file comparison, it even rivals the Finder.
DCommander is another feature-rich transfer app for Mac that combines speed with reliability, makes it easier to manage thousands of files, schedules backups, and even automates file transfers.
Last but not least, the ChronoSync Express app also proves to be irreplaceable if you want to deploy files to multiple files and always keep them up to date.
ChronoSync Express is a powerful tool for sharing and transferring files from Mac to Mac (or any other Apple device). When creating a sync task, you can select which files are automatically synchronized and made available to other devices. Just do the following:
- Create a new sync task for each folder synchronization you want.
- Name the synchronization.
- Select Bidirectional Sync mode.
- Select the folders you want to sync on the left and right.
- Test the synchronization.
Should you use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)?
Whether you’re logging indirectly on your Mac, logging in remotely, or sharing access with another user, security should always come first.
You should always use a VPN when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. Otherwise, other people can easily penetrate and tap into the data sent.
And with remote access, even in read-only mode, strangers can see all files and documents on Mac that aren’t password-protected. However, if you keep your passwords in a visible document, you expose yourself to immense risk.
A secure VPN client for the Mac like Shimo reliably blocks out intruders and is especially advisable if you are working with sensitive information and financial or customer data.
Suppose you want to be on the safe side. In that case, you should set your VPN to automatically activate on all networks where your emails, bank details, and personal documents are not unequivocally protected.
To share your Mac with someone else, download a Virtual Network Computing (VNC) app like Jump Desktop. With full remote access and remote control for the Mac, the other user—or you if you’re connecting to another Mac—can have as much control over the Mac as someone who uses the computer directly. An exception is administrator access, which is password-protected.
Jump Desktop is elementary to use: either you (if you want to gain access) or the user you share the screen or give control of the Mac provides the device data and password.
Once permission is given on the other end, the screen can be shared, or the Mac can be controlled remotely, with even an iOS device being used as a mouse.
Use an iOS device as a mouse when accessing it remotely
If you’re working from a hammock under the palm trees of Southeast Asia, don’t forget that you can remotely control mac with Apple iOS devices like the iPhone or iPad, just like with a mouse. Apps that make this possible work with VNC.
Remote Mouse is the easiest to use to turn your iOS device into a remote control for Mac.
While remote access over a local network would be most effective (because the closer the device, the faster the connection), it can also be made from the other side of the world if the network is fast and secure enough.
Setting up and granting access to an iOS device works just like accessing it from a Mac. The only difference is that you need to assign a password. Please do not choose the same as for your Mac or the App Store on your iOS device.
So there are numerous ways to collaborate or access your own devices from anywhere in the world, ranging from screen sharing and file sharing to remote access to another system. Setapp gives you all the apps you need to access any device and take your work to the global level.