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Take Control of Back to My Mac
Feb 04, 2010

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!

This ebook is no longer for sale. However, you can read about the iCloud version of Back to My Mac in Take Control of iCloud.

More Info

Read this book to learn the answers to questions like:

  • What can I do with remote file sharing and screen sharing?
  • How do I configure a Linksys router for Back to My Mac?
  • What smoke and mirrors does Apple use to make Back to My Mac work?
  • Help! I’m double-NATted, and it’s really bugging me! What should I do?
  • How do I erase all traces of my Back to My Mac info from a public computer?
  • How do I use Back to My Mac to access files on a drive attached to my AirPort Extreme base station or Time Capsule?
What's New

What’s New in Version 1.2

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:

  • Snow Leopard didn’t change how Back to My Mac works, but many cosmetic details in the interface are different. This version makes those changes clear.
  • Back to My Mac was added as a so-called MobileMe feature in the AirPort Extreme Base Station and Time Capsule so you can Access Base Station Hard Drives.
  • In Snow Leopard, Apple added a new Wake on Demand feature, which—if you have the right hardware—makes it easy to wake up a sleeping Mac for remote access. See Enable Wake on Demand in Snow Leopard for details.
  • I’ve enhanced my discussion of how to Revoke Certificates via

What Was New in Version 1.1

Here is a list of the most important changes:

  • The book now refers only to MobileMe, the service from Apple that replaced .Mac in July 2008.
  • I added brief information about revoking digital certificates.
  • Version 1.0 claimed you could make Back to My Mac work with manual port mapping or default host exposure. Unfortunately, despite some success in testing, I’ve been unable to make these techniques work consistently, and Apple doesn’t officially support anything but public IP addresses and automatic port mapping. I removed all references to these options.

Do I need a MobileMe account to set up Back to My Mac?

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.

Which versions of Mac OS X does this ebook cover?

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Does this ebook cover Back-to-My-Mac access to drives attached to an AirPort/Time Capsule base station? Or how to configure a base station via a remote Back-to-My-Mac connection?

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.

Can I connect with Back to My Mac to a network through an AirPort base station from before 2003?

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."

What if I want to know about screen sharing through other methods, like iChat?

Check out Take Control of Screen Sharing in Snow Leopard.

Update Plans

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.

Posted by Tonya Engst

  1. A Caveat about Back to My Mac in Lion

    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.

    Posted by Michael Cohen (Permalink)

  2. MobileMe Will Be Replaced by iCloud

    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:

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  3. Minor Revision to Back to My Mac Tab in System Preferences

    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.

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

The Author

Glenn Fleishman is a veteran technology writer who has contributed to dozens of publications across his career, including Macworld, the New York Times, Wired, the Atlantic, and the Economist. He has also written dozens of editions of books in the Take Control series. Glenn lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.