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Connect Remotely to Your Mac with Back to My Mac

Suppose that you’re using a Mac laptop from your hotel room to prepare a presentation and want to retrieve a picture from the hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD) of your machine at home. As an iCloud member, you can exploit Back to My Mac, a feature that lets you remotely connect to your computer from another Mac running one of these versions of OS X.

Some prep work is involved. Choose iCloud in System Preferences and select the Back to My Mac check box to ensure that the feature is enabled. You also have to turn on screen sharing on the Share pane in System Preferences.

Repeat this procedure on all the machines you want to access; they must use the same iCloud account. You may have to open ports in your firewall for Back to My Mac to work in all its remote computing glory.

Indeed, for Back to My Mac to work, you need a router that supports something called NAT Port Mapping Protocol (NAT-PMP) or Universal Plug and Play (UPnP). If you’re not sure whether your router stacks up, check the documentation that came with your router, or consult the router company’s online support. Don’t feel bad if you have your doubts, because the router companies typically don’t make this information easily accessible.

Then, to locate the file you want to lift off the home computer, select that home machine in the Shared section of the Finder Sidebar, and browse its drive for the file you need. Drag the file to the Desktop of the computer you’re using for remote access.

You can also share and control your home screen remotely by selecting the Share Screen button on the physical Mac in your possession. After you select the Mac that you’re hoping to access remotely in the Finder sidebar on the Mac you’ve got with you, you will see the aforementioned Share Screen button in the upper right hand corner of the Finder window.

It’s adjacent to a Connect As button you can select separately if you want to peek at files on the remote computer. (Before you leave on your trip, remember to select the Screen Sharing option, located on the Sharing pane of System Preferences. It sure beats lugging a desktop computer on your travels.)

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