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My girlfriend often needs assistance with her Mac, and I am not always around to help her. We are most often using our home WPA2 Personal Wi-Fi, but oftentimes one or both of us are connected to our college's WPA2 Enterprise Wi-Fi.

What is the best way to completely control her Mac from a different network? I have tried LogMeIn but found it rather bloated and full of features I never used.

I am also a bit of an Apple software nut, and accomplishing this task using only Apple software is preferred. Optimally, I would like to be able to simply hit Command + K and connect to a VNC server, not having to install anything, but I'm not exactly well-versed in that process; is it even possible?

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3 Answers 3

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In order to control another Mac you'll need to go to 'Apple Menu -> System Preferences...' on the Mac you want to control and enable 'Remote Management'.

In the 'Allow access for' section of 'Remote Mangement' you can leave the default selection of 'All Users', which will allow any account on the controlled Mac to be used to login for remote management or you can select 'Only these users' and define specific accounts that can be used.

Click 'Options...' to define what remote management actions are allowed. You'll probably only need to select 'Observe' and 'Control'.

If you're both on the same network then you can do a Command + K from the controller Mac and type vnc://mygirlfriendsmac or vnc://ipaddress to connect to the Mac you want to control.

Regarding the issue with controlling a Mac on a different network, this is where things can get complicated since there are a lot of variables depending on what network the Mac you want to control is on. This is one possible solution:

First, you'll need to know if port 5900 is open on the network the Mac to be controlled is on. A lot of firewalls block this port. (You can do a VNC tunnel on port 80, but that's probably beyond the scope of this question.)

If port 5900 is open then you'll need to know the publicly accessible IP address of the Mac to be controlled. One way to do this is to use http://DynDNS.com.

This is how DynDNS works:

You can signup for a free account that allows you to create a DNS entry that you define (ie- mygirlfriendsmac.dyndns-ip.com). You'll then need to install the DynDNS app on the Mac you want to control. This app will send the public IP address to DynDNS every few minutes so that you'll be able to do a Command-K on your Mac and connect to the DNS entry you defined (mygirlfriendsmac.dyndns-ip.com) and you can be assured it will be mapped to the current IP address of the Mac you want to control.

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Free and easy is to use the same iCloud account and enable "Back to my Mac" on the one that needs to accept an inbound request to share it's screen with the "support" Mac.

The setup is covered in this article:

There also is a nice PDF with pictures for downloading here. Other than iCloud doing the work instead of MobileMe - everything works similarly to the PDF, but I'd use the current setup steps instead of the PDF.

enter image description here

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There are lots of different ways to connect from a different network to her Mac, but if you're wanting to use only Apple software, the easiest way is to connect using Messages (Buddies | Share My Screen With... or Ask to Share..., depending upon whose screen is being shared.

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