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Back to My Mac functions without .Mac

updated 10:55 am EDT, Wed March 12, 2008

Back to My Mac, no .Mac

The Back to My Mac remote networking option, normally only available with a paid subscription to Apple's .Mac service, can in fact be imitated for free, writes one columnist. Users begin by enabling File and Screen Sharing under System Preferences, and then clicking the Options button to expand file sharing to FTP. After some router configuration, users must run the distant computer's Screen Sharing app, located under "System/Library/CoreServices" in Leopard, and enter the external Internet address of the home/work computer.

Browsing files is said to be more complicated, as while connecting Finder to the home system's FTP port allows use of Leopard browsing features, a native FTP client is said to be more efficient. It is also recommended that users give their computer a static IP, and possibly a domain name, making connections far simpler. To save power by leaving the home computer in Sleep mode most of the time, users can check "Wake for Ethernet network administrator access" under the Options tab in the Energy Saver Preference window.

by MacNN Staff



  1. dscottbuch

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not back to my mac

    This is NOT BTMM. This approach, called port forwarding, has been available for years. BTMM is far more comprehensive, for example allowing multiple computers on the remote network (your home) to be accessed though TCP tunnelling along with wide-area bonjour discovery. I love you every reference to .Mac is lackluster (in the linked article) but only talks about 1 or 2 features. The total value of .mac, in one integrated place, has easily reached the value of $8.33/month.

  1. driven

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I agree. This is NOT the same thing. These are "similar" (but different) features.

  1. OS2Guy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MacNN again, why?

    Here's another innocuous story running at MacNN. The method they describe is and has been available for quite sometime and comes no where near the capability of BTMM - yet MacNN runs it as though it were a most important scoop and one their readers should care about. Stop NN, you're readers are tired of these kinds of faux stories.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: macnn again, why?

    I disagree. Now that BTMM is available, I think MacNN is doing a good service reminding users that another solution is available, albeit more complicated.

    I do agree they, and the article author, make the mistake of labelling this as just like Back To My Mac - it clearly is not.

  1. Doktorfaust

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Missing the point?

    Hold on -- isn't the whole point of BTMM that you do *not* need a static IP? That Apple's servers track your changing IP for you? If I knew my IP address all the time, of course I'd be able to connect back to my machine...

  1. lmhaffner

    Joined: Dec 1969


    dynamic ip tracking...

    Use dyndns or a similar free dynamic IP tracking service. I've used this kind of setup for years and have had access to my home machine from anywhere without explicitly knowing its current IP address.

    BTMM is certainly easier than dealing with port forwarding for a novice user, though. I like to keep things secure and do all my forwarding over ssh so I only need one port forwarded through the front-line router.

  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Key difference

    They key difference here is that it requires port forwarding if you are behind a NAT router. That means you can only connect to ONE machine behind that router.

    If you want to get back to our mac at the office, that configuration would get you back to ONE of the macs. You better be friends with the IT guy because nobody else would be able to get in.

    Now, if you create a VPN, you can make it like you're on the internal network, but that's a whole different story.

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