How to Remotely Access Your Mac – Part 1

Those of us with a Mac desktop system at home often find ourselves wanting to be able to connect to it remotely, whether we are in the next room or hundreds of miles away.

This first article in my ‘Remote Access” series deals with accessing your Mac from another Mac on the same network. This satisfies the scenario of having a Mac in your office and wanting to access it from your MacBook while setting in the living room watching TV. In this scenario both machines are on the same network.

This remote access method uses the Finder to share a screen between two Macs.

Configuring your Mac Desktop for Remote Access

You have to enable remote access on your Desktop Mac. To do that follow these steps (instructions shown below work for OS X High Sierra 10.13.3):

  1. Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 3.54.02 PM
    Access System Preferences by clicking on Apple => System Preferences
  2. Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 3.54.16 PM
    Click on Sharing
  3. Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 4.05.25 PM
    You will first have to click on the “lock” in the bottom left hand corner to unlock the settings. Once the panel is unlocked click the check-box for “Screen Sharing” then on the “Computer Settings” button.
  4. Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 4.10.20 PM
    Click on the check-box for “VNC” and then set the remote access password. Finally click on the “OK” button.
  5. Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 4.17.07 PM
    Now specify which users of the Desktop Mac can remotely access it. The “All Users” button will do just that, allow all users on that Mac with a separate account to access it remotely. Alternatively you can select “Only These Users” then pick those you want to allow access to from the list.
  6. Close the Sharing Preference window

Now your Desktop Mac is configured for remote access.

Configuring your MacBook for Remote Access

Now you need to configure your MacBook so that it can access your Desktop Mac. This configuration is even easier:

  1. Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 4.37.07 PM
    Open a Finder window.
  2. Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 4.40.03 PM
    The sidebar of the Finder window should display a list of shared network resources (in this case the name of my Mac Mini shows up).
  3. Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 4.47.14 PM
    To connect to the Desktop Mac, select it from the list of Shared resources. This will open up a new pane in the Finder window.
  4. You now have access to the disks on the Desktop Mac. You can click on them, navigate through them and drag-n-drop files between them and your MacBook.
  5. You can click on the “Share Screen” button in the right top part of the window. The sharing will use your iCloud ID for the connection. I have blocked mine from view in the image above. Once the connection is established, you will have a window on the MacBook screen that is your Desktop Mac display. You can mouse around the display, type, etc. just like you were setting at your Desktop Mac.

I find this method very useful for accessing my Desktop Mac at home while watching TV in the living room.

 

Pros

  • Easy to configure
  • Software already included with every Mac

 

Cons

  • This method is limited to accessing only local Macs on the same network
  • when a Mac is turned off, the Shared list sometimes doesn’t update itself to show that the Mac is no longer online leaving “phantom Macs” in the list

See my other Mac OS X articles


 

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