Can I Access My Home Mac While I’m At Work? [Ask MacRx]

Mac Remote Control

It’s happened to many of us: you’re at work or on vacation and you realize you need something from your Mac at home. There’s nobody at the house to help. By making use of one of the remote desktop solutions on the market, a simple one-time setup can help solve this dilemma:

If my mac is on at home and connected to the internet via a wireless router, and I am at work on either a PC running windows XP sp3 or my mac again connected to the internet via a wireless router is there anyway I can log into my mac at home via the internet and use files etc remotely at work without any input from somebody at home ?

I tried something called back to mac but could not get it to work. Thanks for any help you can give me, great feature to your website by the way, the tutorials are a real help.

Ashley

Hi Ashley,

I haven’t had much luck with Back to my Mac either, though it’s been a few years since I last tried. There are a number of remote desktop solutions on the market, one of the most popular (and cross-platform compatible) is LogMeIn. You install the LogMeIn software on your home system, then connect via the logmein.com website. You will want to make sure the home Mac does not go to sleep or get shutdown while you are away.

There are other alternatives which perform similarly – GoToMyPC and TeamViewer are probably the most popular. More info available here: Many Options Available for Mac Remote Control.

Glad you’ve found the tutorials useful!

Thanks so much for your help, LogMeIn seems to fit the bill !

• • •

Readers, have any additional suggestions on this topic, or corrections/clarifications on the advice above? If so, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Related
  • ethicsblogger

    If all you want is access to your home files, use a cloud storage system like DropBox. That’s what I do. All my home computer files (well, except my iTunes library!) are in my DropBox and I regularly grab files from it while at work.

  • FutureChris_

    If you configure correctly the LogMeIn access you can power on your Mac, ofcourse you need an internet access.

  • Ben Podbielski

    I use a combination of Dropbox for files and Splashtop for actual control. I used to use Logmein for remote control, but I found Splashtop to be much faster from both the desktop and my iPad.

  • marcomeneghello

    I’m using Screen Sharing with DynDNS to help find my home IP address.

  • GC

    “Back to my Mac” has been 100% consistent for me and has the advantage of being able to wake a sleeping Mac on the remote end if you are using Apple’s AirPort routers capable of running firmware v7.4.2 or better for your networking and your Mac’s are running Mac OS X 10.6.x or better. 

    The reason is a feature called “Bonjour Sleep Proxy” running on the Airport Base Stations. When you enable “Wake on Demand” in the Energy Saver preference pane on the Mac it registers with the “Bonjour Sleep Proxy” running on the Airport Base Station. When a Mac is sleeping it will be woken up by the “Bonjour Sleep Proxy”service to answer any requests for shared services it is advertising as available like file sharing, printer sharing, or any other shared service available on that Mac.

    More info is available here. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT

  • joewaylo

    Back to My Mac was discontinued as of OS X Lion.
    “As of October 12, 2011, Apple has included Back to My Mac in its iCloud service rather than the previously used MobileMe, thus making it free to use”

    The current feature in OS X Lion similar to DropBox requires a WiFi connection in the same household. If you are using a MiFi while on the go, you can connect many Macs together.

  • Jordan Clay

    can you expand on this,  In order to use LogMeIn, I have to wake up my Mac, which is kind of pointless.  I don’t really want to leave it awake the whole time since I really only use my mac at home about 1x every couple days.  (I surf and play on the iPad and only edit photos and stuff on the mac)

  • GC

    ‘Back to my Mac’ has NOT been discontinued as of OS X Lion. Not only does Lion continue to support Back to my Mac but Apple has also continued to support it with the transition to iCloud services.

  • Mark Morris

    I use Back to my Mac (with Lion) almost daily for both file access and remote control, for multiple computers at home. It couldn’t be easier to use, and it’s very reliable. However, it requires that whatever you’re using for your home router support either UPNP or NAT-PMP protocols.
    For me the solution was to configure my internet provider’s box as a simple pass-through to my Airport Extreme, then use the Airport Extreme as my router and hang everything off of that.

  • Chase Fegan

    Dude, Back to my Mac works beautifully with Lion.  I use a MacBook Pro to access a Mac mini this way all the time, and it works seamlessly.  Both computers have identical user accounts, both are logged into the same iCloud account, with Back to my Mac enabled, and Screen Sharing enabled on the Mac mini.  Then, as long as you’re on a WiFi that doesn’t disable this through some kind of firewall (test it at a Starbucks or something if you’re unsure), then your remote computer should show in the sidebar in Finder under Shared.  Click on that, then Share Screen.  Couldn’t be easier.

  • hanna

    @google-0c5c6f239e7bd1b0ecbaae3d674b221d:disqus ………Would you like to work from home? Read more here: LazyCash4.com and you will find out how to get a nice income every month.

  • Adam Rosen

    It’s the need to support UPNP or NAT-PMP which often trips up Back to my Mac.  It’s a good option if both ends of your connection support these protocols, but can be hit-or-miss while traveling and using different WiFi connections.  

  • Mark Morris

    I’m pretty sure that’s not true. Your home network (the one with the computer you’re trying to get to) needs to meet the BtmM requirements, but there are no specific requirements for the remote network. I know I’ve never had trouble from anywhere, once my home network was set up properly. And here’s an old article I found via Google that says, “Note that BtMM is asymmetrical: if computer A is connected to a network that meets the Back to My Mac specs, and computer B is not, B can still connect to A; the reverse is not true.” (http://www.macworld.com/articl
    My point is, I guess, it’s not a hit-or-miss solution, it’s very reliable, it just needs to be set up initially correctly.

  • Mark Morris

    Looks like my original reply is hung up awaiting moderation because I included a link to more information. But the gist is, only your home network has to support these protocols. Once you’re set up correctly at home, you can access your computers from any remote network. So it is actually a very reliable solution, and not at all hit-or-miss.

  • JBrickley

    Large employers with actual network admins may decide to prevent you from connecting to your home Mac from the office. Block, Dropbox, Back to Mac, LogMein, ssh, etc. my employer goes so far as to block all the large ISP Internet address ranges.

  • Adam Rosen

    Thanks for the additional info and clarification, definitely helpful.

  • Aaron

    For those of you who are using PCs to remotely access your Macs, VNC still works on Lion though it is significantly changed from Snow Leopard and before. You will need to log out of your Mac before attempting to connect to it via VNC which isn’t always the easiest thing to do if you forgot. (I turned off automatic login and just SSH into my Mac and reboot it.) Be sure and use 24-bit color when connecting to a Mac via VNC.

    If your ISP or employer has blocked the port for SSH, try finding another port that is open in the firewall, then use port forwarding on your router to remap the port to the correct one (22).

  • Peter Reynolds

    For anyone who only occasionally needs to remotely access their home Mac:  I use PocketCloud on my iPhone to control my MacBook.  It’s free.  It works over 3G.   And it’s free.   
    2/6/2112
    I’ve switched to LogMeIn. Quicker startup, nice UI, more features.

  • pcmedman

    I recommend SplashTop. It is a much more affordable option compared to LogMeIn, and does exactly the same, including video streaming.
    You will, however, need a third-party app like MochaWoL (free) or others to wake-up you computer (assuming it is connected via ethernet cable to the router) from a remote location (and assuming your router supports WoL (wake-on-LAN) from outside your home network).
    And as a tip, for those who don’t have the computer in the same room as the router, you can use those ethernet connecting boxes that plug into the light socket. That way, your computer will be connected via ethernet.

  • Olaf Slazak Løken

    The best app is by far Slink. Use all of you home resources with out hassle. screenshare, fileshares,iTunes …. 
    http://slinkware.com/

  • FutureChris_

    Sure, in the software settings you only need to check that the option “Wakeon LAN” remains enable… also be sure that your mac is plugged into a PoE switch or modem with the same capability, in some random cases the function “WakeonLAN” seems to doesnt work properly if the MAC isnt plugged to PoE device.

  • aliasgar_babat

    You can use logmein, GoSupportNow, GoToMyPC etc. remote support tools for remotely accessing your MAC computer from work.

About the author

Adam RosenAdam Rosen is an Apple certified IT consultant specializing in Macintosh systems new and old. He lives in Boston with two cats and too many possessions. In addition to membership in the Cult of Mac, Adam has written for Low End Mac and is curator of the Vintage Mac Museum. He also enjoys a good libation.

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