Macworld Networking Software Technology How-To

How to allow remote access to your Mac

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Computers are ubiquitous, and you’ve probably had an instance where you are using a computer in one place and you need to access a computer in another location. For example, you’re at a coffee shop with a laptop, and you need something from the desktop computer in your home office. You might even want to give people you know the ability to access a computer when they are away. This ability is called remote access.

Macworld reader Sandy has three remote access scenarios she’d like to get set up:

  • One contractor accessing an iMac remotely to use QuickBooks on the iMac. But that contractor is using Windows.
  • Another contractor who has a Mac and needs to access a different iMac on a daily basis.
  • The first iMac might sometimes need to be accessed remotely by the second contractor and by Sandy.

What to do?

There’s a lot to unpack here, because of how Apple manages accounts and remote access, and how third-party remote-access tools interact with macOS as well. Sandy is also concerned about security, making sure these contractors don’t have access to just anything.

If this were an all-Mac situation and just you, it would be relatively easy:

  1. Set up a separate account for yourself and each other party.
  2. Enable Screen Sharing in the Sharing system preference pane.
  3. Enable Back To My Mac in the iCloud preference pane.

Now, when you’re connected to the internet on your local network or anywhere else, you see your other computer in the list of Devices in the Finder sidebar, and can connect to that.

See how I presented the easiest case first? Well, it’s not so easy after that.

Third-party software, like TeamViewer, allows robust remote access to a system across many platforms (including macOS and Windows as hosts and iOS, Android, and other devices as clients), but doesn’t interact with macOS accounts. Whatever account is logged in has full access.

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