Remotely Control Your Mac — for Free, No Less!

Virtual network computing (available for many platforms) is a nice application that enables you to remotely control a computer from pretty much any place that has an Internet connection. VNC is easy to install and configure, and it runs on many platforms, ranging from Windows 7 and 8 and Unix on desktop computers and servers to iPhones, iPads, and Windows 8 on tablets.

Wrap your mind around this: You could be at a friend’s house on her wireless network and use your iPhone to remotely control your Mac at home over the Internet. Pure, undiluted sassy!

In a nutshell, VNC takes the graphical interface on your monitor, turns it into data, and sends it to the device that you’re using to remotely control it. The remote device sends keyboard presses, mouse movements, and clicks to your computer, acting just the same way as it would if you were sitting right in front of it.

Some networks have proxies and firewalls that might interfere with VNC’s operation. You can remotely control a computer that’s behind a firewall, cable router, or DSL router, but the firewall or router needs to be configured properly. Because the process varies from one manufacturer to the next, check your cable or DSL router manual for instructions on how to allow for a secure VNC connection.

You can use the Screen Sharing feature in Messages to make a remote connection from another Mac to your Mac. However, you’re not limited to using just another Mac using Mavericks and Screen Sharing in Messages. You can control your Mac from a Windows PC or from an older version of OS X as well.

If you’ve already enabled screen sharing in the System Preferences Sharing pane, follow these steps to enable any VNC connection:

  1. Click the System Preferences icon on the Dock.

  2. Click the Sharing icon to open the Sharing Preferences pane.

  3. Click the Screen Sharing entry.

  4. Click the Computer Settings button.

  5. Select the VNC Viewers May Control Screen with Password check box.

  6. Click in the password text box and enter a password for VNC applications.

  7. Click OK to exit the Computer Settings sheet, and then close the System Preferences window to save the changes.

Make doggone sure that you set up the password access correctly for VNC, or don’t run it! Just think how much fun a hacker would have with free remote control over your OS X Desktop.

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