Remotely control a MacBook

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Reader A. Hart is heartbroken that his or her MacBook refuses to obey commands issued across the room. A. writes:

I waited a long time to get a laptop and finally decided on a MacBook only to find out after purchase that the new MacBook does not support the Apple Remote for use with Keynote. Do you have any recommendations for a remote that will work well with the MacBook and Keynote?

Regrettably you waited a little too long as MacBooks released at and after late 2009 (the polycarbonate model, not the MacBook Pro) don’t carry an IR port and therefore don’t work with Apple’s remote. But you’re not completely out of luck.

If you have an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and a Wi-Fi connection you can use one of a handful of remote control apps to control your Mac. I’ve used Air Mouse Pro, HippoRemote, Rowmote Pro, and Snatch and they’re all capable of controlling a Keynote presentation over Wi-Fi. Apple also sells the 99-cent Keynote Remote app, but I’ve found that with iOS 4.1 it doesn’t always reliably link my iPhone and iPod touch to my Mac.

Those are all fine solutions if you’re able to join a Wi-Fi network, but if you can’t, you have to turn to other wireless avenues. One of those avenues is a dedicated hardware remote that works in league with a USB receiver that you plug into your Mac. Kensingon, Logitech, and Targus make such devices. They cost around $40.

Bluetooth is another way to go. The venerable Salling Clicker allows you to remotely control your Mac with a variety of Bluetooth-capable mobile phones (regrettably, the iPhone isn’t one of them). And, of course, if you don’t plan to stroll around during your presentation, you could control it with a small Bluetooth keyboard such as Apple’s $69 Wireless Keyboard ( ).

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