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Is it possible to control the Mac remotely?

My parents live in different country other than where I'm living now, I think about giving one of my Mac to my parents to use iChat. As my parents are not good at using computers, I need to control the Mac remotely.

Is there any software tool for it?

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6 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The Mac comes with the server part of the software built-in for "Apple Remote Desktop"; They can be viewed and managed remotely if you have the client software. For most of us that's too expensive a solution, so an alternate is to use VNC. Check out JollysFastVNC and Chicken of the VNC.

Also, iChat, which comes with the Macs, can do screen sharing, which might be all you need. Check out "Share and share alike." from Apple's iChat site and "Sharing your screen with a buddy".

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When iChat works it's great, but I've found that it tends to fail exactly when you don't want it to. –  Kyle Cronin Jan 9 '11 at 3:26
    
It's Apple Remote Desktop, FYI. –  Jason Salaz Jan 9 '11 at 6:43
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With recent MacOSX versions, you don't need a separate VNC client anymore -- you can just hit cmd-K and then do "vnc://address-of-computer/" to control it. –  khedron Jan 10 '11 at 16:54
    
No idea about older macs... but I & my buddy do share desktops and I do some work on this 2007 MBP using iChat (mine is Mid 2009 MBP). Never had any issues. –  garikapati Jan 14 '11 at 6:46
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There are a lot! LogMeIn is one of them, which has the benefit to have a web interface and doesn't need your parents computer to have a fixed IP. You install the client on their computer, register it and then you'll be able to control it via your interface.

Give it a look, it's quite good. The free version doesn't have all advanced features (obviously) but it's quite enough for remote help of parents' computers (I use it for this same purpose and I also do it for computers in Canada while I'm in Europe!)

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LogMeIn running on the Mac is amazingly fast. VNC would be a second choice, but it's incredibly slow. ARA is just as fast if not faster, but it's not free and to my knowledge limited only to Macintosh. –  Dr. Zim Jan 10 '11 at 1:04
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A number of good solutions have been posted.

For completeness sake, I want to mention something that easily lets you see, if not control, the remote computer. Skype lets you "share the desktop", which sends an image of the user's computer over as if it were a video chat.

It's not as good as actual control, I will agree, but it's cross-platform and can help out a lot in a pinch.

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I have used logmein, teamviewer, ichat and teamviewer emerged winner due to its simplicity and availability of a free iPhone app as a bonus! Try them all, simple and easy.

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Here's a step by step (the free, reliable route):

  • Download "Vine server" and install it on your mac.
  • Go to dyndns.org (dynamic DNS), register, and create a free domain name pointer for yourself. This will create a hostname that points to your house's ip address all the time (ie bill.dyndns.org --> 123.123.123.123).
  • Once you get a dyndns domain name, login to your router and put your login information in for the domain name you just got from dyndns. Look around, there should be a page for DDNS. If there's not, then grab the dyndns software.
  • While in your router, open up a port for vnc. The default for VNC is 5900.
  • Restart VNC server.
  • Now, from outside of the mac's house, grab a vnc client... there are many. A good one for PC is vncviewer, tightvnc, others. Just google PC or MAC free VNC client.
  • Open the client vnc, put in your dyndns hostname as the IP, and the port is 5900.
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Since mid 2013 dyndns requires updating records every 30 days for free accounts: Free hostnames must be updated every 30 days to remain active. Inactive hostnames will expire and be deleted. This makes the dyndns "service" a less desired route. An alternative could be switching to Asus routers where Asus provides a free dynamic DNS service without jumping through hoops at least every 30 days. –  Pro Backup Dec 5 '13 at 11:50
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(I'm going to mention this for completeness rather than because I think you'd actually use it).

There's a product called Timbuktu which is a bit more hard-core than LogMeIn, VNC and Remote Desktop, but really it does something very similar.

It's a paid-for program (and not really that cheap, to be fair) but it does work BRILLIANTLY, it's fast, you can get compatible Windows versions (so Mac-Mac, Mac-Windows, Windows-Windows etc) and it makes a decent job of useful things like file transfers, clipboard syncing and handling different screen resolutions etc.

I've used Timbuktu to remotely control my office Mac from my laptop for a couple of years now and I'm a very happy customer.

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