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  1. Computer Skills
  2. OS X
Computers

How to Control Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect From a Mac

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:

The Internet of Things is putting the long promised dream of home automation at our fingertips, whereever we may be. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to control Nest Products from a Mac.

Control Your Home From Your Phone

Nest Labs—a company founded by Tony Fadell the former Senior Vice President of the iPod Division at Apple—is a home automation producer of programmable Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

Founded in 2010, Nest started with the learning thermostat, introduced in the US in 2011, later rolling out the Protect smoke detector—in 2013—then indoor and outdoor security cameras in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

Nest products communicate with each other and can be controlled from a Smartphone.

The Problem

For me, the problem is when I'm in the office and the room starts to get a bit chilly. 

My office is in the loft and it's a long way downstairs to go to adjust the thermostat a degree or two ...and, again, having to return to turn it down or off.

It might be that I do not have my smartphone to hand, perhaps it is charging elsewhere. I'd like a way to be able to control Nest devices from the Mac.

Available Solutions

Nest offers a number of apps for various devices in order to put home automation at your fingertips.

Smartphones

Nest produces apps for:

  • iPhone running iOS 8 or later
  • Android phone running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or later

Smart Watches

Nest produces apps for:

  • watchOS 2 with iOS 9 or later
  • Android Wear 5.1.1 and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or later

Tablets

Nest produces apps for:

  • iPhone running iOS 8 or later
  • Android tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or later

Desktop

Use the latest version of Safari, Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer / Edge browsers on the following operating systems.

  • Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks or later
  • macOS 10.12 Sierra or later
  • Windows 7 or later

Desktop Apps

Apart from using the Nest website in a browser, there is no dedicated Nest app for desktop operating systems.

Of course, it is easy enough to launch a web browser, navigate to https://home.nest.com/, find the account username and password, type them in, log in and adjust the temperature.

On the other hand, the convenience of a desktop app affords immediate control of the thermostat when desired.

And there are solutions for this.

In the Mac App Store, you'll find apps such as:

  • Thermobar, £1.49, two-star rating
  • Thessa, £2.29, three-and-a-half-star rating
  • Climate, £3.99, three-star rating

None are official Nest apps, and all have not been updated in some time. Specifically two, one and two years respectively at the time of writing.

The Envato Solution

Whilst some like having control from the menubar—others hate the additional clutter—it can be useful to have quick access from the desktop.

The solution that I propose is no cost, other than your time, and places an icon on the dock thus affording quick access when needed.

What You'll Need

  • A Mac running Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks or later, or
  • A Mac running macOS 10.12 Sierra or later
  • A Nest thermostat
  • A Nest account
  • A copy of Fluid app
  • A 1024x124px icon (optional)

The solution that I'm showing you essentially looks like an app and is created by using a site-specific browser, or SSB.

The solution that I'm showing you works on Macs. 

1. Download Fluid

Download the Fluid app from the developers website
Download the Fluid app from the developer's website

In a web browser, visit the Fluid app website at fluidapp.com and download and install the application.

2. Launch Fluid

Launching Fluid app
Launching Fluid app

Fluid is an application that allows for the creation of site-specific browsers, or SSBs, that just happens to be a great way of making webpages appear like apps on the Mac.

The advantage of this is that just one site resides in a SSB. The SSB can be pinned to the dock for easy access and the closing of a web browser will not close an SSB.

When configuring sites as separate apps in Fluid, you can choose to use the website favicon or create it with a custom icon.

3. Configure the Fluid App for Nest

In the URL: field, enter https://home.nest.com/

In the Name: field, enter Nest, or whatever name you'd like to call the app.

For the time being, leave the Icon: field as Use Website Favicon. You can change this later if you wish.

Click the Create button to create the Nest app.

Successful created of the Fluid Nest app
Successful created of the Fluid Nest app

When created, the app will be automatically placed in the Mac's Applications folder and display a message saying Success!

4. Launch the Nest App

The Nest app in the Applications folder on the Mac
The Nest app in the Applications folder on the Mac

From the Success! dialogue window, either click Launch Now or Reveal in Finder in order to launch the Nest app. The latter will show the Nest app in the Applications folder from where it may be launched.

Once launched, the Nest app appears as an icon in the dock. In this example it has taken the favicon of the Nest website.

Click on the icon to launch the Nest app.

5. Log In to Nest

Signing in to the Nest app
Signing in to the Nest app

Enter your Nest account Email address and Password into the field in the Nest app. This is just the Nest website wrapped into an app. 

Once you've signed in, it will not be necessary to sign in again each time you open the app. Your credentials will be remembered.

6. Test Nest

The Nest Thermostat interface in the Nest app
The Nest Thermostat interface in the Nest app

Once you've signed-in, you're able to control the temperature settings on your Nest thermostat without having to leave the Mac or reach for another device to control it.

Exploring the interface, you can check and amend the schedule, check the history of energy usage, and check your Nest account settings.

The Nest Thermostat Protect smoke detector interface in the Nest app
The Nest Thermostat Protect smoke detector interface in the Nest app

If you have other Nest devices, such as the Nest Protect smoke alarm shown here, you can monitor those and control them also.

7. Customisation

You can customise the Nest app with any icon you like 1024x1024px recommended
You can customise the Nest app with any icon you like, 1024x1024px recommended

In the screenshot above, you'll see that I have a Nest thermostat icon that looks more visually appealing that the blue and white Nest website favicon.

If you'd like this, too, create a 1024x1024px icon or download the one I've included with this tutorial.

With the Nest app open, from the menu bar go to Preferences > General to open the General Preferences window.

Fluid app General Preferences for configuring the app icon
Fluid app General Preferences for configuring the app icon

Nest to Application icon: click the Change... button and follow to upload a chosen 1024x1024px icon.

Quit and restart the Nest app to see the new icon.

You may wish to keep the Nest app icon in the dock for ease of access
You may wish to keep the Nest app icon in the dock for ease of access

If you wish, secondary-click on the app icon in the Dock, select Options then click Keep in Dock.

Conclusion

Fluid app is a handy little app for creating SSBs, or site-specific browsers, ideal for applications such as the Nest website.

I've previously shown you how to create a World Clock app in the Dock of a Mac.

Fluid is useful for all sorts of other sites that you'd like to run separately, and appear as an app in the Dock, from other web browser pages.


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