How to Remote Access your Mac from an External Computer

by Kris Wouk

Make Tech Easier / 2019-06-07 09:30

Over the last decade, Apple has focused strongly on making its computers portable. This doesn’t just apply to laptops, either. Take a look at the Mac Mini for another example. Even the trashcan-style Mac Pros are much more portable than older Mac Pro models.

Portable or not, there are still times you want to access your Mac remotely. There are many different ways to do this, but we’re going to look at a few of the easier ways.

Related: 5 of the Best Linux Remote Desktop Apps to Remotely Access a Computer

Set Up Your Mac for Remote Access

To log in and control your Mac remotely, first you’ll need to set it up so that this can be done. For security reasons, this is disabled by default.

There are a few different ways that you can log into your Mac remotely, and they’re enabled in different ways. If you’re logging in from another Mac, you’ll want to enable “Remote Management.”

Open System Preferences, then find the Sharing settings menu. In the menu on the left, enable “Remote Management.” Here, select Observe, then select Control as well. Below, enable the permissions you want to have when logging in remotely.

If you also want to be able to log in from Windows or Linux, click on Computer Settings in this menu, then enable “VNC viewers may control screen with password” and enter a password.

If you only want to log in from Windows or Linux, you can enable VNC login via the Screen Sharing setting in the left menu instead.

Optional: Set Up Your Mac for SSH Access

If you’d like to access your Mac from a terminal, you can also enable SSH access. To set this up, open the System Preferences, then go to the Sharing Menu.

Remote Access Mac External Computer Ssh Setup

Here, simply check the box next to Remote Login. By default, only Administrators will be able to access the Mac via SSH and SFTP. You can set this to all users if you’d like, but it’s somewhat riskier.

Accessing Your Mac Remotely

Now that your Mac is ready to access remotely, we’ll take a look at a few ways you can do it.

Apple Remote Desktop

Despite being an Apple app, this is not included with macOS by default, and it’s far from free. If you want to use Apple Remote Desktop, you’ll need to purchase it for $79 from the App Store. If you’re administering a large number of Macs, this may be worth it, but it’s overkill for home users.

VNC

There are plenty of VNC clients available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, all of which will let you access your Mac remotely. TightVNC is a free option that is available for Windows and Unix systems and is known to work with the macOS VNC server. RealVNC is another option.

To connect, simply type in the IP address of your Mac. This is visible when setting it up to allow remote connections. Type in the password you set to connect.

Screens

Remote Access Mac External Computer Screens 4

If you want to connect from a Mac but don’t want to pay for Apple Remote Desktop, Screens 4 is a nice alternative. It works with Apple Remote Management but is available for a much cheaper price at $29. Screens 4 is also available for iPad for just $19.99.

Conclusion

Being able to log into your Mac remotely can be very handy. Just remember that if you can log into your computer remotely, so can someone else. Every door you leave open into your computer could potentially be used by someone else.

For a look at just how wrong this could go, turn to the Windows Remote Desktop Protocol. We’ve previously taken a look at just how easily this service can be used against you. With any remote access, it’s always best to use it only when necessary.

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