How to remotely access Mac devices
Arguably the essential tool for any tech team is remote controlling Macs. That’s right, remote access is an invaluable feature that’s only been made more necessary in recent years. As companies are adopting more of a remote-hybrid work model, it’s important for IT teams to be able to access Macs wherever they are in the world. Even if all of your computers are on-premises, it can save you so much time to remotely assist a user while sitting at your own desk.
This article dives into how to access a Mac remotely and what tools you’ll need, both native and third-party, to do it.
The 8 best remote access tools for Mac
There are a number of different ways to access Macs remotely. Everything from native and Apple-created solutions to standalone third-party apps made for just this purpose. Here’s a list of eight of the most commonly used options.
1. Apple Remote Desktop
Remote Desktop does exactly as its name promises. And as an app made by Apple, you can imagine just how easy it is to configure and get started. Once you have Apple Remote Desktop downloaded from the App Store, then you’re all set. The major perk of the app is that you don’t need anyone attending to the other computer to give you access.
Learn more about Apple Remote Desktop.
Probably the most popular third-party remote access tool is TeamViewer. A lot of IT teams like to use this because it’s cross-platform, meaning it works on Mac or Windows. Another huge perk is that you only need a license for TeamViewer on the computer you’re using, not the one you’re remoting into. And if you interface with client or partner computers that are not owned by your company, you can also set up a web portal that will allow outside users to grant you access to their machines.
Learn more about TeamViewer.
3. Device Management Software
If you're already using a device management platform, such as Jamf or Kandji, then you'll want to check to see what remote access tools are available to you. Since these platforms are designed to remotely push software and scripts to Macs, they can usually let you take control of another computer as well. As you're pushing out software updates and patches, you'll find this tool helpful to check on the status of those updates.
4. macOS Screen Sharing
For Macs on the same network, you can use the native Screen Sharing app if you're trying to access another Mac in the office. Once you open Screen Sharing, all you need is the computer's name you're trying to access or its IP address. The other computer will need to have Screen Sharing enabled, but that's easily done by going into System Preferences and then opening the Sharing page.
You can also use this app to connect to another computer via their Apple ID. But realistically, that’s more suited for helping your parents troubleshoot their printer issues and probably not something you’d want to use when supporting your CFO.
LogMeIn is another great third-party solution for IT teams to use for remote access. The thing this app does really well is that it comes in various versions based on what type of industry you’re supporting. So, if you’re in healthcare, there are added encryption policies to meet HIPAA compliance. Or, if you’re in accounting, there are extra integrations you can use with Quickbooks and more. LogMeIn is also cross-platform, so if you can support both Mac and Windows, making it another great option for you.
Learn more about LogMeIn.
6. Google Chrome Remote Desktop
For fans of the Google Chrome browser, here is another easy-to-use solution. It’s browser-based, so that means it’s cross-platform and works on both macOS and Windows. It does claim to give you full access to other computers, but that can be a minor hit or miss depending on the hardware of the actual machine. Google Chrome Remote Desktop—at its best — is a screen-sharing app.
Learn more about Google Chrome Remote Desktop.
Splashtop is truly cross-platform in that you can use it not only on macOS and Windows but also Google Android, iOS, and iPadOS. And if you're concerned about all of your computers having remote access enabled for security reasons, Splashtop comes in different versions with varying controls. For instance, you can go with a Business Access plan for your users to be able to remote into a workstation at the office. Or you can go with the SOS plan, which would give your IT team unattended remote access to troubleshoot and push software. Oh yeah, that's another thing about Splashtop, it can also double as a device and software management tool.
Learn more about Splashtop.
8. macOS Remote Login
Similar to Screen Sharing, Remote Login is another native macOS feature. But the biggest difference is that you don’t need to be on the same network as the Mac you’re trying to access. All you have to do is enable the feature in the Sharing page of System Preferences. It’s ideal for remotely accessing your work computer from home. But probably not as secure as it would be if you were using Apple Remote Desktop.
Remote access for Macs in the enterprise has always been somewhat of a nice-to-have. But it’s increasingly becoming a must-have for every IT team. Whether you’re letting users remote into their own workstations, or you just need access to help support them. Having a tool that will allow you to access Mac remotely is absolutely critical to keep your business running.