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There are a lot of different reasons you might need to remotely access either a Mac or Windows device. It can allow you to help colleagues or clients when working from home, removing the need for frustrating emergency office visits. It can also enable simplified, more secure file transfers and IT troubleshooting, along with a host of other possible uses. 

And as the world moves to more and more work being done remotely, remote access is only becoming more necessary and helpful. For anyone with the travel bug, remote access can solve a lot of the potential roadblocks as to why you can’t do your job to the best of your ability while relaxing on the beach in Thailand. 

But using remote access can be complicated, and even more so when you’re not used to using MacOS. So if you’d like to learn how to access your Mac devices remotely, you’re in the right place! We’ve produced this full guide on using a remote desktop for Mac, so that by the end you’ll know everything you need to be getting work done while you’re sipping coconut water on the beached of Thailand… or whatever you might be using your remote connection for.

6 easy steps to remotely connect to a Mac

Remotely accessing your Mac is a straightforward process, and it isn’t as complicated as it might seem to be from the outside. By going through our easy-to-follow instructions, we’ll hold you by the hand from A to Z, so nothing is left up to your best judgment. Because we know that not everyone works in the IT space, and sometimes technology can feel daunting

1. Go to System Settings

The first thing you’ll need to do is open System Settings. You can do this via the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen, where one option says exactly that, System Settings. This is where all of the settings that you’ll need are found, not too difficult so far, right?

2. Go to the Sharing section

Inside of System Preferences, you’ll need to open up the Sharing section, which can be accessed via General > Sharing.

3. Enable remote login

In the Sharing window, find Remote Login and turn it on with the toggle bar. By turning on remote login, you’re setting up a secure FTP service which will allow remote connection to your Mac.

4. Adjust users able to remotely connect to the Mac

Now you need to setup user permissions for remote access of your Mac. Beside the Remote Login toggle bar, you’ll first need to click the “ⓘ” to open up the Remote Login settings. 

Next, you’ll be able to choose between allowing all users and only specific users of your Mac. If you want to restrict remote access to specific users, you’ll need to manually add them by clicking on the “+” button, after selecting “Only these users” under the “Allow access for” section.

5. Find your username and IP address

If you want to log into this Mac from another computer, you’ll need to take note of your Mac’s username and IP address. These can both be found under the Remote Login section within the Sharing window. The information should be shown just below the indicator showing that remote login is enabled. 

E.g. To login to this computer remotely, type “ssh username@IPAddress”. 

Take note of this command, whether you write it down or paste it into an iCloud note that’s accessible on any of your devices, as you’ll need it for the next step

6. Login using Terminal or an SSH client

On the computer you’d like to use to remotely access the first computer and the username and IP address ready, open the Terminal application (using the command ⌘ button + spacebar, and typing in “Terminal”) or an SSH client. Run the SSH command using the format ssh username@IPAddress and press Enter. You will be prompted to enter your password, which will allow you to remotely access your Mac if entered correctly.

Note:

Use a VPN for better security

For an additional level of cybersecurity, you should use a VPN while remotely accessing another computer. A VPN will encrypt your internet connection, which gives you another layer of protection between unauthorized users and any sensitive data you might have on your computer.

If you’ve followed these steps, you should have a remote connect established on your Mac, and be all ready to get back to work.

Remotely accessing Mac devices from a Windows computer or Windows 10 machines

So far, we’ve taken you through the process of remotely accessing a Mac computer, from another Mac computer. But what if you want to access a Mac computer through a Windows computer? Do you still need to go through the same steps, or do you need to throw everything you just learned out the window?

Well, accessing  your Mac computer via a Windows computer does have a slightly different process than Mac to Mac. On the Mac side of things, you’ll still need to head into the system preferences on your Mac device and click on the Remote Login section. Take note of the IP address and username here, the same as you would with a Mac-to-Mac connection. 

Now, download an SSH client on your Windows computer like PuTTY. Once you have downloaded the SSH client, you’ll need to enter the IP address that you took down earlier and click Connect

You’ll then be asked to enter your login credentials of the Mac, and in just a few seconds you’ll have remote access to your Mac from your Windows computer.

File sharing on Mac devices

File sharing is also an important element of remote access, as email has heavy limitations and file sharing systems can be slow or cumbersome to deploy. Here are some of the top ways to share files using a Mac.

MacOS File Sharing

Head back to System Preferences and Sharing, and you’ll see that Mac actually has its own native file sharing functionality. You can choose exactly which folders you want to be able to share by creating a shared folders list, and also pick the users that you want to be able to access these folders and files.

AirDrop

If you just need to quickly share a file between two Apple devices, AirDrop might be a simple way to do so. All you need to do is choose the file you want to share, right-click on it, click on Share, and choose AirDrop. The receiver’s icon will pop up, and you can drag and drop the file into their device. 

Note: If the receiver’s icon does not pop up, make sure that AirDrop is turned on to everyone, under General > AirDrop on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, or from the Control Center on a Mac.

Cloud Storage

Dropshare is a great choice for cloud storage transfer using Dropbox, Google Drive, or other cloud storage solutions. For bigger files, this can be a good option, where you can share the file by simply dragging it into the menu bar.

You can also use Apple’s native iCloud, which can be hosted under one Apple ID, allowing you to share files within devices.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

Terminal can also be used to share files from your Mac, or you could use a dedicated FTP client. Just select and send the files that need to be transferred, even if you have thousands of files to transfer. 

You can also schedule backups and automations that work for file transfers according to your business needs. There are a lot of great options for FTP applications that you can use, with FileZilla being among the most popular.

Remote access using Atera

If you’re using Atera, remotely accessing your Mac devices couldn’t be easier! With our robust Splashtop integration that allows you to transfer files, chat, access your Mac remotely, share your screen and record, and more, it might feel like you’re not even working remotely..

First, head to the agent console and click ‘Connect’. You’ll also be able to find the connect button using the device view. If you haven’t downloaded and installed the Splashtop RMM client, you’ll be prompted to do that. Once that’s done, you may be asked to click connect again.

Once the client is installed, it will take a few seconds for the remote connection to be established, and you’re ready to go! The remote Mac will now be ready for connection. And it’s really as simple as that. Check out our Knowledge Base article for a pictorial view of getting set up with Atera and Splashtop, along with a video tutorial.

If you want to make IT complications like remotely accessing your Mac a difficulty of the past, take advantage of your free 30-day trial with Atera. We’re an IT-industry-leading RMM (remote monitoring and management) software with happy clients all over the world.

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