Networking Tricks - Mac Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts in easy steps (2015)

Mac Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts in easy steps (2015)


Networking Tricks

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.

imageGo to Apple Menu > System Preferences > iCloud

imageScroll 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):

imageOpen a Finder window

imageLook down the Sidebar and you should see the remote Mac listed under Shared

imageClick on your remote Mac and you will see various folders

imageClick the one you want to connect to

imageYou 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.

imageClick on the remote Mac in the Sidebar

imageWhen the window opens click Share Screen...


imageThe Screen-sharing app will open and you will see the login screen of the remote Mac

imageEnter 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 ( Once you know that, you can enter those details into your VNC app and connect to the Mac.

imageOpen the VNC app on the mobile device

imageEnter the IP address of the remote machine

imageAt 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.

imageChoose the one you want to connect to


If the Wi-Fi is secure you will be prompted for the password.

imageEnter 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

imageIn the Settings app of the iPhone go to Personal Hotspot and activate this


imageYou 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

imageClick on the Wi-Fi icon on the menu bar

imageSelect Create Network


imageA window opens showing the network name (you can change the name)

imageChoose 40-bit WEP protection (requires a five-character password)

imageOnce 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


Anonymous Surfing

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.


imageOpen Safari

imageClick Safari > File > New Private Window

Now when you browse, no history will be left behind.


Google Chrome

imageOpen Google Chrome

imageSelect File > New Incognito Window


Network Utility

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.