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I've got several machines that I administer, a mixture of macbook pros and mac minis, that are 90% of the time all in the same building. (Macbook pros sometimes leave).

It's beginning to get quite tedious to install updates, add printers, add software etc to all these machines.

Is there a way that I can have administration access to these machines and run updates, installs etc from my machine?

I understand this could be done using a mac mini server, but it seems a bit of an over kill to spend c. £800 on a box that will just do this. Is this not something I could do when from my mac book pro when on site and attached to the local network?

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It is possible to remotely administer Macs without needing a dedicated server.

Command Line via ssh

Consider using Secure Shell, ssh, to connect and issue commands via Terminal.app.

  • To remotely run software update on a Mac, use the softwareupdate command.

  • To install packages, use the installer command.

There are numerous command line tools for performing common administrative tasks. For specific tasks, ask a new question on [Ask Different] to attract more focused answers.

To enable ssh support on each Mac, enable Remote Login:

  • System Preferences > Sharing > Remote Login

Screen Sharing

Since Mac OS X 10.4, Apple have included built-in VNC support. With VNC, you can remotely connect to and use another computer.

With OS X 10.9 and later, you can remotely connect via VNC and start a new graphical session without affecting any active local user. This is ideal for performing administrative tasks.

To enable Mac to Mac screen sharing support, enable Screen Sharing:

  • System Preferences > Sharing > Screen Sharing

Enabling VNC requires a few more steps but once done, PCs and non-Mac devices will be able to connect.

  • Thanks Graham, im not super quick using the terminal do you know if there are any GUI alternatives ? – sam May 15 '15 at 11:24
  • I have added screen sharing and VNC details. Over time, it is worth becoming comfortable with the command line. Many manuals and guides will assume some familiarity with Terminal.app, so even a little knowledge there can be helpful. – Graham Miln May 15 '15 at 11:29
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    +1 for VNC, i hadnt come across that before we had previously been using logmein, but i guess VNC is quicker and more secure becuase its local – sam May 15 '15 at 11:35
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You should take a look at Apple Remote Desktop. When I was a Mac Sysadmin, I used ARD to do everything you need to do, and more, on hundreds of machines. One boon was the ability to remote in to another computer and assist a user with problems.

You can allay your user's fears about unwarranted 'spying' by setting up the ARD Client so that users must grant permissions for ARD admins to screen view/share.

Check it out. I don't think you will be disappointed.

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