On March 14, Apple announced
Apple Remote Desktop for Mac OS X, which lets teachers, administrators and others remotely manage other Mac desktops anywhere on a local network, AirPort wireless network, or across the Internet.
This was my first experiment. I set up my iMac as the administrative system and my kids’ Macs as clients — without telling them. When Matt, 16, began playing video games and Katie, 13, began instant messaging her friends, I “took over” their systems. I’d make MY desktop appear on their screens. I’d take over control of their desktops and move things around. I’d make notes like “I know what you did last summer” pop up on their screens.
My experiment had absolutely nothing to do with Apple’s intentions for Remote Desktop, but, man, was it fun. And it also showed me just how powerful and useful the software package could be.
Apple Remote Desktop works well over AirPort networks because only the keyboard input, mouse movement, and display output data are transmitted across the network. However, a high-speed Ethernet network is recommended for maximum screen sharing and file copy performance, or for copying files to more than one computer at a time.
Before my current career as a journalist, I was a teacher (seven years) and would love to have had Apple Remote Desktop and a room full of Macs for use with my students.
As Apple points out, with Apple Remote Desktop, teachers can monitor students’ computer screens, perform group demonstrations and help individuals. After my first, prankish use of Remote Desktop at home, I’ve used it for more constructive purposes with Matt and Katie. Namely, I’ve helped them on various school reports. By sharing screens, I can proof read their work, make writing suggestions, etc.
You can also work from home or another school by using Apple Remote Desktop to access your files and applications remotely. I did this with my iBook while visiting my parents one weekend. I used my laptop to access some word processing files on my home office iMac. It worked well, although a bit slowly when using a 56k modem connection. I probably won’t use this feature very much. But if you’re a hardcore road warrior with a home or business system and a laptop, you’ll want Apple Remote Desktop on your notebook.
If you’re a system administrator, the software can provide remote assistance, get comprehensive system profiles, reconfigure system settings and distribute software applications across lots of computers. You can rename systems, verify and repair hard disks, get reports on software that’s changed, and delete old software applications — all remotely.
You can also tackle administrative tasks remotely. You can schedule tasks you want performed daily, and leave the rest to Apple Remote Desktop.
Apple Remote Desktop supports multiple levels of administrator access, each with its own password. This offers a secure way for teachers or department-level administrators (or dads helping teenagers) to assist users while restricting privileges for deleting items or changing system settings. Teachers and administrators can also remotely control computers by locking screens, starting, restarting, sleeping or waking computers on an individual basis or for an entire workgroup or computer lab.
Though Apple says that Remote Desktop represents the next generation of Apple Network Assistant, it can’t manage Apple Network Assistant clients. It’s necessary to install the Apple Remote Desktop client software on any computer you plan to manage through Apple Remote Desktop. Nor can a Mac system be administered from both Apple Remote Desktop and Apple Network Assistant. Existing Apple Network Assistant client software will be deactivated when Apple Remote Desktop client software is installed.
Apple Remote Desktop is available now through the
Apple Store, at Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of US $299 for the 10-client edition (the version I test drove) and $499 for the unlimited client version. Special education pricing can be found at the
Apple Education Store.
The 10-client edition allows you to install the Apple Remote Desktop client software on up to 10 computers at a single location. The unlimited-client edition allows you to install the client software on an unlimited number of computers at a single location and to manage up to 5000 computers at a time. Both licenses permit only one copy of the Apple Remote Desktop administration software to be used at a time. Apple Remote Desktop 1.0 supports English-language systems only. An update will be available in the future to support French, German and Japanese systems.
The administration and client system for Apple Remote Desktop is designed to run on all Power Mac G4 and G3 computers and requires an Ethernet or AirPort network connection. The administration system runs on Mac OS X version 10.1, or later; the client version supports Mac OS 8.1 through Mac OS 9.2, and Mac OS X v10.1 and later.