How to setup your Macs to have remote access

So you’ve just left the office, it is Friday, in your mind you’ve already ordered two beers from The Power and the Glory. As you turn left into Kloofnek Road, you get the Whatsapp from your client. “Hey hey, I know it’s Friday, but I have an urgent jobbie, it’s quick, quick, can you help?”

I’m the first one to discourage weekend working, or anything after 5, but we all have those clients that you’ll do anything for. We have a few here at Sorted. Yes you know who you are… So instead of turning around and going to the office. You greet José at the P&G door, find your way through 23 hipsters and settle in at the Black Ram [the P&G bar at the back]. As you open your Mac, the WiFi connects automatically… In the Sidebar of your Macbook you can see your office iMac and you connect remotely or screenshare, get the work off the server and ‘quickly’ take care of your client’s request.

Now I hear a few of you thinking, but why not Dropbox, why not VPN why not… well basically because:

  • we’re a design company and our files tend to be quite big, so we work on a QNAP server [network drive] that stores all the information at the office, so our ‘working’ work is not on Dropbox because it’s too big and will take ages to sync every time you save that 900mb Photoshop file.
  • “Back To Your Mac” is a free service that works through your Apple ID, so no need to pay for a VPN and is fairly easy to set up.

How it works:

You need to do a few quick things on each Mac. The one you want to share from, and the one you want to access it from:

  • Firstly, you need to be logged into the same iCloud account on both Macs. Click on the Apple icon top left and go to “System Preferences” – Click on iCloud.

  • Then, under iCloud, scroll down and tick the box next to “Back to My Mac

  • Then back to the main screen of System Preferences, and Click on “Sharing'”

  • Then tick the following boxes: Screen Sharing, File Sharing, Remote Login.

You Might want to restart your Macs for the effects to take place. Essentially you should be able to see your respective Macs in the Sidebar of you Finder window like this:

This allows one to connect to the file system on the remote Mac, or you can log in and share the remote Mac’s screen to your Macbook without having to authorise it from the remote mac.

Since you cannot map connected servers through the “connect to file system” I use the Screen Sharing option, log onto my QNAP on the shared screen, and copy/paste the file I need from my remote network drive, and paste it on my Macbook. Yes, the “Back to my Mac” function allows for a shared clipboard. So you can even drag-and-drop files from you remote screen onto your local desktop.

Also remember to go to your Energy Saver Settings on System Preferences and tick the “Wake for network access” button. This will allow you to wake-up the remote mac if it goes into sleep mode:


Then, you open your second beer. Happy client, happy designer.



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