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Take Control of Back to My Mac
Gain secure remote access to all your Internet-connected Macs with the MobileMe version of Back to My Mac!
Time to look at other titles! This ebook won't be updated again, because Back to My Mac on its own under the new world order of iCloud is not sufficiently full-featured (or difficult to set up) to justify an entire Take Control ebook. However, you can already read about the iCloud version of Back to My Mac in Take Control of iCloud, and a new ebook, Take Control of Screen Sharing in Lion covers how to turn on Back to My Mac and the screen-sharing features within Back to My Mac.
If you are using the MobileMe version of Back to My Mac and want help with it even though Apple will be discontinuing the service in June 2012, you can read this ebook to learn how to connect securely from one of your Macs to another for file and screen sharing, making it possible to snag a forgotten document or control your Mac Pro from your MacBook while on a trip. Or at least that's the theory, since in practice, people have had trouble with getting Back to My Mac working. In this ebook from networking expert Glenn Fleishman, you'll find essential details on configuring common routers to work with Back to My Mac, learn about the security implications of Back to My Mac, and discover how to wake up a remote Mac. The ebook covers the MobileMe version of Back to My Mac in both Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard.
Read this book to learn the answers to questions like:
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About the Author
Glenn Fleishman is editor and publisher of The Magazine, an electronic periodical for curious people with a technical bent, and he hosts The New Disruptors, a podcast about fundamental changes in the economy of making art and making things. He also writes for the Economist’s Babbage blog and the publication’s print edition, plus he is a contributing editor at TidBITS, where he built the content management software.
Table of Contents
Read Me First
This book will help you master Back to My Mac, a feature introduced in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard that lets you remotely access files and remotely control the screens of multiple Macs that you manage or own. This book was written by Glenn Fleishman, edited by Tonya Engst and Dan Frakes, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
If you thought this book title was interesting, then you probably own more than one computer, and your computers are likely located in different places—whether just down the hall or halfway around the world from each other.
I’m no mind reader, and you can easily determine how I predicted your computer ownership. It’s increasingly the case that when we’re on one computer, we find that we need files from or need control of another computer. Fortunately, starting with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Apple added a significant tool to our arsenal that can reach out over a local network or the Internet: Back to My Mac.
Back to My Mac uses a host of industry standards and Apple-developed protocols to create an intertwined web (as in a woven web, not the World Wide Web) of services. It uses these services to create a connection between Macs for the purposes of extending the power and convenience of a local Bonjour network to any other computers under your control—even if those computers are located across the Internet. This includes file sharing and screen control. The “key” to this connection, so to speak, is a shared MobileMe account.
Mac OS X uses MobileMe as a way to figure out where on the Internet computers are without requiring manual router configuration or know- ing fixed names or IP addresses for those devices. MobileMe “tunnels” can reach through home and office wireless and broadband gateways and past network obstructions.
Apple would like to say that one or two clicks turns on these services. However, as with any set of tools that relies on the Internet, there’s more beneath the surface.
In this book, I show you not only how to set up your network and your connected Macintoshes for the best results with Back to My Mac, but also how to troubleshoot problems, determine whether Back to My Mac can even work for you, and overcome stumbling blocks.
This book shows you how to use Back to My Mac, including configuring your router, and it teaches you to troubleshoot problems that prevent the service from working reliably.
This version contains updates for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (but still covers 10.5 Leopard), and it documents the addition of Back to My Mac support for drives inside or attached to Apple base stations:
Here is a list of the most important changes:
For the purposes of this ebook, the answer is yes. MobileMe, however, will be discontinued in June 2012. So, you might be better off going with the iCloud version of MobileMe and an iCloud account. This ebook does not cover iCloud.
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard.
Yes, we added that in version 1.2.
Note that although you can access remote USB-attached (or internal on the Time Capsule) drives via Back to My Mac, you can't make Time Machine backups to them using a Back-to-My-Mac connection. Also note that the Back-to-My-Mac option is only for 802.11n AirPort base stations, and that you can't attach a drive to the AirPort Express.
Glenn suggests that you not try. Specifically, Glenn says, "If you have a pre-2003 AirPort Base Station, any of the two 802.11b gateways (with the alien ship design) that Apple produced from 1999 to 2002, your best bet is to upgrade. You won't get the performance or features you need from it, and you're using outdated security, to boot. A used 2003 AirPort Extreme Base Station with the latest firmware—always a free update from Apple—is better than any of the pre-2003 models."
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November 2011 -- This ebook isn't going to be updated again, because Back to My Mac on its own under the new world order of iCloud is not sufficiently full-featured (or difficult to set up) to need an entire Take Control ebook worth of info. However, you can already read about the iCloud version of Back to My Mac in Take Control of iCloud, and we are preparing a new ebook, Take Control of Screen Sharing in Lion, that will cover how to turn on Back to My Mac and the screen-sharing features within Back to My Mac.
November 2, 2011 --
A quick note regarding the implementation of the iCloud version of Back to My Mac. According to Apple's support article, Mac OS X: Using and troubleshooting Back to My Mac with your iCloud account on OS X Lion, Back to My Mac under iCloud can connect only between Macs running Mac OS X Lion (and 10.7.2 or later). This means, for example, that you can't use it from a Lion-ized Mac to control a Snow Leopard Mac, nor vice versa. Also, according to the support article, What happens to Back to My Mac after I move to iCloud?, you cannot use iCloud's Back to My Mac to access Time Capsule nor AirPort disks remotely.
—Michael E. Cohen
June 8, 2011 --
On June 6, 2011, Apple announced a new service called iCloud that will appear at some point later in 2011 ("fall" in the northern hemisphere), and will replace MobileMe from Apple's perspective. Until then, MobileMe continues unchanged, except that Apple is no longer selling subscriptions or charging for renewals; all current members automatically have their accounts extended through the end of June 2012.
When iCloud becomes available, existing MobileMe members will be able to migrate to the new service, which will be free (albeit with optional paid features, such as iTunes Match and additional storage). So far, Apple hasn't released details about the fate of iDisk (including file sharing and iWeb publishing); MobileMe Gallery; Back to My Mac; the Backup application; Web-based access to Mail, Contacts, and Calendars; or Mac-to-Mac syncing of things like preferences and keychains.
In the meantime, you can learn more about iCloud and what it might mean for MobileMe users in the following places:
November 24, 2010 --
Apple has made a minor revision in the MobileMe preference pane's Back to My Mac tab in Mac OS X 10.6.5. Previously, that tab showed a status dot in red, yellow, or green, along with an explanatory text message, to indicate whether MobileMe was active and communicating correctly with Apple's servers. In this revision, two additional status dots and text messages are added for File Sharing and Screen Sharing. A green dot indicates the service is on; red, off. Putting status about those two items in this tab means you don't have to switch to the Sharing pane to check whether either of those services is active.
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