Five ways to remotely access a Mac

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Remotely control a Mac via the Web

Network and computer firewalls, router configurations, network topology, and other factors can make all remotely accessing a computer inside a private network a nightmare. The Web services LogMeIn and GoToMyPC both sidestep those obstacles by connecting remote machines through central servers. As long as both computers can reach out to those servers, a remote connection can be made.

LogMeIn

LogMeIn comes in two flavors: Free and Pro. Both versions have good support for multiple monitors; you can select which of a remote Mac’s monitors you want to display from a pop-up menu. And both will work on both Macs and Windows machines.

The free version is highly capable, given the price. Its main limitations: It doesn’t offer integrated file sharing or remote-to-local printing, and the browser-based viewer doesn't provide as much control as some other software interfaces.

The Pro version, meanwhile, does support remote file-sharing and printing; it also has a guest mode, which lets you invite another party to view your desktop even if they don’t have access to your account. Unfortunately, some LogMeIn features available in the Windows paid version—including drag-and-drop file transfer and remote audio—aren’t available on the Mac.

LogMeIn Pro costs $69.95 per year per computer, with discounts for more machines. You pay only for the machines that are set to be remotely accessible; you can use any number of computers to access them. LogMeIn also has a paid iPhone app—LogMeIn Ignition ( ) available for $30.

Set up With both versions, you first set up an account at the LogMeIn Web site, then download and install the LogMeIn software on the computers to which you want remote access. That done, you can log in to that Mac (or Windows PC) from any Web browser anywhere. One thing you should look out for: Because the LogMeIn interface to the remote machine works inside your browser, keyboard shortcuts can get confusing. I’ve quit Firefox after pressing Command-Q, rather than quitting the remote program as I intended, many times.

GoToMyPC

Citrix’s GoToMyPC uses a Java applet as its interface to the remote machine. That viewer has almost no controls. It shows all remote monitors in a single shrunken display, and requires dragging a slider to increase the remote display to full size.

GoToMyPC costs either $19.95 per month or $179.40 per year, with discounts for more computers. As with LogMeIn, the per-computer price is only for machines that are set to be remotely accessible. You can use any number of computers to obtain access to computers that have the remote-access software installed.

Even though they cost the same, GoToMyPC’s Mac client delivers far less than its Windows counterpart. It supports remote viewing and clipboard sharing for copy and paste, but not remote printing, guest access, or file sharing; the Windows software has all three. Frankly, I can’t see any reason to use GoToMyPC for Mac unless your company or office has standardized on the product for Windows, and has a multi-user license.

Set up Very similar to LogMeIn: From the Mac (or PC) that you want to remotely access, you go to the GoToMyPC Web site, fill in the account information, then click on an install button. That will launch the installer. When it finishes its work, you should be able to log in to that Mac (or PC) from any Web browser anywhere.

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