Mac Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts in easy steps (2015)
Networking causes confusion, especially in the Windows world. Mac OS X makes networking very straightforward and in this chapter you will learn how to connect to your Mac from anywhere, connect easily to Wi-Fi networks, share wireless connections, and other networking tricks.
Access your Mac anywhere
This works for PCs too but is more straightforward on the Mac. If you have a Mac at home and one at work you can connect one to the other to view files, drag-and-drop files from one to the other and, if you want to, you can even see the Desktop on the remote Mac and run programs on it.
Using Back to My Mac
This is the easiest method to use. You need to ensure Back to My Mac is enabled on both the local and the remote Macs.
Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > iCloud
Scroll down until you see Back to My Mac and make sure the check box is checked
Viewing folders and files on the remote Mac
If you only want to look at folders and files (rather than view the screen):
Open a Finder window
Look down the Sidebar and you should see the remote Mac listed under Shared
Click on your remote Mac and you will see various folders
Click the one you want to connect to
You can then browse folders and files
Copying folders or files to your local Desktop
Simply drag from the remote window to your local Mac and the files will copy across to the local Desktop. You can drag files the other way too, from the local Mac to the remote Mac.
The remote folder you are browsing will be shown on the Desktop like this:
Viewing Remote Desktop
If you want to see the actual Desktop of your remote Mac, rather than just the folders and files, it’s very easy to do.
Click on the remote Mac in the Sidebar
When the window opens click Share Screen...
The Screen-sharing app will open and you will see the login screen of the remote Mac
Enter your usual password and the Desktop will then be visible
The login screen of the remote Mac
Connect using an iPad or iPhone
You don’t need another Mac or PC to connect to your Mac – you can use a VNC (Virtual Network Computing) app on your iOS or other handheld device to connect to a remote Mac or PC. There are various VNC apps available – search for “VNC” on the App Store. The example used here uses Screens.
Usually you need to know the IP address that your local Mac uses (www.whatismyipaddress.com). Once you know that, you can enter those details into your VNC app and connect to the Mac.
Open the VNC app on the mobile device
Enter the IP address of the remote machine
At the login screen enter your admin password to control the remote Mac or PC
A fixed IP makes screen sharing easier, although Back to My Mac pretty much helps to solve this.
Login screen of the remote Mac
Waiting for password to be entered
Once logged in you can use the remote Mac as if it were the local Mac.
Google has recently developed Chrome Remote Desktop which makes connecting two Macs very easy. You can even connect to your Mac using a mobile phone or tablet. Search for Chrome Remote Desktop on your mobile device app store.
Connect to Wi-Fi
Connecting to Wi-Fi using a Mac is very easy. Use the Wi-Fi tool on the menu bar and a dropdown menu will appear listing all those wireless networks available. If a network is open there will be no padlock, and if secure a padlock icon will be shown.
All available Wi-Fi networks near you will show up in the list.
Choose the one you want to connect to
If the Wi-Fi is secure you will be prompted for the password.
Enter the password set for your Wi-Fi network
If Wi-Fi misbehaves
Sometimes things go wrong and the Wi-Fi does not behave normally. Simply switch Wi-Fi off and leave for 15 seconds then switch on and reconnect. That usually solves the problem.
Get Online using Mobile Phone
Some mobile phone tariffs include tethering or Personal Hotspot which means you can use your phone’s 3G/4G connection for your laptop. The phone broadcasts its 3G/4G and the laptop joins this, after which you can browse the Web, send and receive emails, etc. But beware; if you have a fixed data allowance in your contract you may use up your whole allowance. This is best only used in an emergency!
Set up Personal Hotspot
In the Settings app of the iPhone go to Personal Hotspot and activate this
You will be shown the password for the Hotspot. When you look for the phone’s Hotspot in your Wi-Fi settings on the laptop, you will need to enter this password to get online
Share your Wi-Fi Connection
ISPs don’t like this trick much, since it involves you picking up their network then broadcasting it for others to use. Why would you want to use this? Sometimes you have a connection in a hotel which is wired, and you have a laptop and a mobile device, or two of you have laptops but only one can be connected to Ethernet. Sharing your Wi-Fi connection enables one of you to be hard-wired to the network and broadcast a wireless signal so the other laptop can get online!
This is much easier to do on a Mac than a PC. On the PC side you will be setting up an ad hoc network.
On a Mac
Click on the Wi-Fi icon on the menu bar
Select Create Network
A window opens showing the network name (you can change the name)
Choose 40-bit WEP protection (requires a five-character password)
Once set up, on the unconnected Mac go to Wi-Fi on the menu bar and look for that network. Enter the password and join the network
Sometimes you want to surf the web without leaving the usual traces of your activities. There are apps you can buy that will hide your IP address and provide a false one (e.g. Netshade). But you can surf anonymously using most web browsers.
Click Safari > File > New Private Window
Now when you browse, no history will be left behind.
Open Google Chrome
Select File > New Incognito Window
You will find this app in the Utilities folder. This lets you monitor network activity, “Finger” people, “Ping” websites, and many other fancy networking tricks.
“Finger” is one of the easiest forms of status updates. It’s hardly used any more but you can use Finger to check if your friends are online and more.
“Ping” is a tool to check if an internet address is working.