LogMeIn: Access Your Mac Desktop From Anywhere

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to a destination and realizing that you have left an important file on your desktop at home with no way to access it.

Fortunately, there’s one method of avoiding this problem that can be used on your iPhone, iPad, or any web connected computer — and better yet, it’s free! It’s called LogMeIn, and not only is it available for a huge range of different platforms, it works amazingly.

Today we’ll be taking a look at how LogMeIn works, and also mentioning a few other ways to achieve similar functionality.

The Installation Process

Begin by going to LogMeIn.com and setting up an account. There are varying levels of support, but there is a free option that does all the basics.

Once you’re signed up, download the program on the computer you want to access remotely, then install it on the computer. You can do this with multiple Macs if you like, and even on a Windows machine if you have one. Once that’s done, you’re ready to continue.

Setting Up LogMeIn

Setting Up LogMeIn

Fire up the program on your computer and a window pops up that shows you all of your options. You can initiate desktop sharing if you have a friend or coworker who needs access to your computer, upgrade to a paid account, or just tweak various preferences.

There’s also a little icon that will appear in the menu bar on your Mac as well, allowing you to make changes quickly, or even turn the service off entirely.

Accessing Your Mac Via the Web

Most times that you’re stuck without access to your computer, your options are limited to whatever beige box you can get your hands on.

To access to your computer from another, go to LogMeIn.com and sign in. Next, you’ll see all the computers you’ve installed LogMeIn onto listed on the screen.

Click on the remote control option and after a little bit of Java loading, you’ll see your Mac desktop appear.

Registered Machines

Registered Machines

From here you can access your computer in its entirety, just as if you are in front of it. The speed can be a touch slow since it’s determined by the internet connection available on both ends, but it works in a pinch.

Mouse around and open programs like you would if you were there, and when you’re done, just close the browser window. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Mobile Access Options

There are mobile variations of the program as well, available for Windows phones, Android, and of course, the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone. It’s known as LogMeIn Ignition, and although it’s a bit pricey at $29.99, the good news is that it’s a universal app for all iOS devices.

A Remote Connection Example

A Remote Connection Example

The process works the same across the board: Tap the LogMeIn Ignition icon, and then the program fires up. Log in and navigate to the computer you want to control, and just like that, it’s there.

I’ve personally done this dozens of times on my iPhone, and it comes in really handy when you forget something or want to check if an automated process has completed.

That said, the extra real estate on the iPad makes it substantially easier to work with, because even with zooming in on the screen it can still be difficult to work on the iPhone.

Limitations

As with any free program, there are some caveats. LogMeIn works great for accessing your computer, but you can’t do file transfers from the remote computer to the one you’re working on without upgrading to LogMeIn Pro.

With the upgrade you can also listen to iTunes, print documents, and do more advanced IT functions than you can with the free version.

Connecting Through a Browser

Connecting Through a Browser

All that said, there are some workarounds. If you want to transfer a file, just open up your e-mail and send the file as an attachment. You can edit an image in Photoshop, just know it’s going to be slow and laggy depending on the connection. And if you have a file sharing program such as Dropbox, you can just drag and drop the file into that and access it via the web on your other computer.

The Alternatives


Want another way of doing the same thing? Here’s a few other options:

  • Remote Desktop Connection for Mac 2 – Comes with every copy of Office 2011 (meaning it’s not free), and only works to connect your Mac to PCs
  • Apple Remote Desktop 3 – This comes in at $299 – so it’s not cheap – and is really tailored for the IT crowd with lots of server specific features. It does, however, have a fantastic icon.
  • Bonjour Screen Sharing – Free (included with OS X) and allows you to share the screen or desktop of any computer in your Bonjour network that you have the login and password to. This works remotely if you’re a MobileMe subscriber, and is called “Back to My Mac”.
  • CoRD – Free, and allows you to access a Windows desktop remotely.

The Verdict

Not everybody needs a way to access their files remotely, but when that first occasion comes up, it really is nice to know that you have a way to do so. In my case, I’ve used LogMeIn to grab photos I forgot to bring with me, check on the status of running programs, and even to work on a program that I didn’t have access to on the road.

For me, I find the best option is to have LogMeIn with me always, because I never know when it will come in handy. I don’t use it often, but the few times I have it’s really saved me from a major problem — and that’s worth its weight in gold.


Summary

LogMeIn gives you a simple way to access your Mac desktop from any other internet connected computer, or iOS device. It's free for the basic version, and come in really handy when you least expect it!

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