Restarting a remote Mac

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Reader, tech dabbler, and Weeds actor Andy Milder, occasionally contacts me for technical advice. In exchange, I drop his name. I'd additionally like to drop this bit of advice in response to his latest query:

I want to restart my Mac remotely from another Mac. Is there a way to do that?

Absolutely. If you want to do it via the Mac’s GUI, move to the remote Mac, launch System Preferences, select the Sharing preference, and enable the Screen Sharing option.

When you want to shut down that Mac remotely, sit down in front of another Mac on the same network, select the remote Mac under the Shared entry in any Finder window, click the Share Screen button in that window, enter that Mac’s administrator’s name and password, and click Connect.

The remote Mac’s screen will appear on the local Mac’s desktop. Treat it like your local Mac and, within that window, choose Restart from its Apple menu. It will do as you’ve commanded.

If you can’t or don’t wish to screen share you can do this via Terminal. Just follow these steps:

1. On the remote Mac launch System Preferences and choose Sharing. Click the lock icon and enter your Admin password to unlock the preference.

2. Within that preference enable the Remote Login option. In this window you'll see the command for accessing your remote Mac—something along the lines of ssh andy@macsipaddress (where macsipaddress is, naturally, the Mac’s IP address). Close System Preferences.

Enable Remote Login and note the iP address

3. On the local Mac (which is running on the same local network as the remote Mac) launch Terminal (/Applications/Utilities) and enter ssh andy@macsipaddress (again, substituting the IP address).

4. After the inherent delay enter your password for the remote Mac.

5. Enter sudo shutdown -r now

The remote Mac will restart immediately. (And I do mean immediately—there’s no option to elegantly quit applications. The remote Mac simply restarts without issuing any warnings about saving open files.)

You can delay the restart for awhile if you like. To do that, enter something like sudo shutdown -r +5. Were you to use that exact text, your remote Mac would restart in five minutes. Enter +1 and it restarts in one minute. You get the idea, after the + sign just enter the number of minutes you want to delay restart.

Have a Mac 911 question of your own that you’d like to appear in this space? Just drop me an email message at (no personal replies guaranteed). You can additionally follow me on Twitter.

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