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Back to My Mac Master Class

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Back to My Mac is one of the most powerful features in iCloud. It allows you to quickly and easily connect to any of your Macs, regardless of where they are in the world. If you have ever run into a situation where the files you need are at home, but you away on business, then this tutorial is for you!

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to:

  • Set up both your operating Mac and the receiving Mac
  • Share files between two Macs
  • Control one Mac from another
  • Setup and access files from a Time Capsule using Back to My Mac

Set Up Back to My Mac

Sign into iCloud to enable Back to My Mac
Sign into iCloud to enable Back to My Mac

To enable Back to My Mac, launch System Preferences and click on iCloud. If you aren't already signed into iCloud, do so now.  Scroll to the bottom of the panel and enable Back to My Mac.

Enable Back to My 

You also need to make sure your Mac is prepared to do file/screen sharing with authorized connections. Click Back to System Preferences. Then click on Sharing. Enable File Sharing and Remote Management. While enabling file sharing be sure to set the read/write preferences to your personal comfort level.

Enable file and screen sharing
Enable file and screen sharing

NOTE: You will need to repeat this process on all of the computers you would like to connect to and from.

Sharing Files

Now that all of your computers are connected and ready to share over iCloud, I will show you how to transfer files between two computers.

Launch Finder. On the sidebar under the category of Shared, you will now see any computers you are connected to via Back to My Mac. Choose the computer you wish to connect to.

You may be prompted to either connect as a Guest, Registered User, or Using an Apple ID. User the same Apple ID you used to set up iCloud.

Connecting your computers via Back to My Mac
Connecting your computers via Back to My Mac

Once connected, you will be presented will a Finder window showing all of the available files on your remote computer. Drag and Drop any file you need from your remote computer to the computer you are currently using. The file will begin to transfer.

Control a Mac Remotely

To share the screen, mouse, and keyboard on one of your Back to My Mac connected machines, launch FinderChoose the Mac you would like to control, then click Share Screen in the top right.

You will be instantly shown a real time image of your remote machine. You will also be able to control the keyboard and mouse of that screen. Navigate around the remote computer as much as needed. When you are done, simply close the window to kill the connection.

Screen sharing using Back to My Mac
Screen sharing using Back to My Mac

Access Files From a Time Capsule

A Time Capsules is a combination of super-fast Wi‑Fi base station and very large hard drive. Time Capsules are also the preferred device of Time Machine backups. So, as you may imagine, many important files are stored there. Accessing those files via Back to My Mac is very simple!

To enable Back to My Mac on your Time Capsule, launch AirPort Utility. Then click on your Airport. Click Edit to bring up the options menu. Click the + at the bottom of the Base Station Tab underneath all of the info regarding Back to My Mac. Enter your iCloud credentials, then click Sign In.

Accessing your Time Capsules options menu
Accessing your Time Capsule's options menu

Once you have added your Time Capsule to iCloud, you will be able to access it just as you did with your other connected computers. It will be listed on the left side of all future Finder windows under the category of Shared. Click on it to connect and transfer files as needed.

Adding iCloud credentials to your Time Capsule
Adding iCloud credentials to your Time Capsule

Conclusion

Back to My Mac is one of the best, most underused features in iCloud. Understanding the setup and use of it can save you countless hours of frustration or worry. 

When it comes to files, you no longer need to worry about where to store a file, or which Mac you may need to access it from later. Just save the file on the computer you are working with and, if needed, use Back to My Mac to retrieve it.

When it comes to remote desktop services, you no longer need to rush out and buy expensive RDP or VNC software. iCloud has you covered.

BONUS: If you are feeling extra creative, you could even turn your Mac into a sort-of Dropcam by enabling the built in webcam, then accessing the screen sharing feature to see what that computer sees on screen anytime you like!  

The possibilities are truly remarkable.  What will you use Back to My Mac for most?  Tell me in the comments section below.

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