You got your Mac in my iPhone! Oh wait, that’s actually pretty handy.
Difficulty Level: Medium
What You Need:
>> An iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch)
>> A Mac with LogMeIn Free installed on it (free, logmein.com)
>> LogMeIn ignition ($29.99, logmein.com)
I recently had a breakthrough moment that made me realize how dramatically the technology world has improved since the introduction of the iPhone. I was sitting in a taxi in New York City when my mom called me with an urgent Mac problem that needed to be solved immediately. Now, talking someone through a solution over the phone can quickly become an exercise in frustration. But not this time around.
With my mom on speakerphone, I simultaneously logged in to her Mac remotely and fixed the problem for her. All within seconds. From the backseat of a cab. Using AT&T’s 3G network. I didn’t even have to hang up on our phone conversation.
How did I accomplish this bit of 21st-century magic? With an ingenious and well-designed app called LogMeIn Ignition that lets you remotely control an unlimited number of Macs from your iPhone. Once you start using LogMeIn Ignition, you’ll come up with all sorts of reasons for remotely connecting to your Mac (or other people’s Macs) while you’re on the go. And the one-time setup couldn’t be easier.
1. Create an Account
When creating your new LogMeIn account, choose the top option. The bottom option only works on PCs for now.
Go to logmein.com and create an account for yourself. Check your email and click on the verification link that was emailed to you to finish creating your account.
2. Download the Installer
Click “Add this computer.”
Using the Mac you want to control remotely, log in to logmein.com and click the green button that says “Add this computer.” The “Add a different computer” button requires a $299 annual subscription to LogMeIn Central, a premium service that’s great for IT pros but not needed for this how-to. On the next screen, click the Download Now button, and the LogMeIn installer will download to your Mac.
3. Name It
Name your Mac something straightforward.
Run the installation program that you just downloaded. The installer will ask you to assign a name to your Mac. Use something descriptive to distinguish this Mac from any other Macs you might want to control in the future.
4. Link Up
Link this Mac to your LogMeIn account.
The installer will also ask you to type in your LogMeIn email address and password, which links this Mac to your LogMeIn account. You can add an unlimited number of Macs to your account for free, but only one LogMeIn account can control any particular Mac for free. If you want to add unlimited LogMeIn accounts that can control any subset of your Macs that you authorize, you’ll need to upgrade your account to LogMeIn Central for $299 per year. For IT professionals like myself, this annual subscription is worth every penny because it offers dozens of additional features, all explained on the LogMeIn website.
5. Keep It Free
Compare LogMeIn Free and LogMeIn Pro here. For this how-to, Free is all we need.
Finish the installation process by following the prompts. After installation, the LogMeIn application will launch on your Mac. Note that LogMeIn automatically enrolls your Mac with a free 30-day trial of LogMeIn Pro ($69.95 per year), but this professional subscription isn’t required. It’ll give you extra features when controlling your Mac from another Mac, but doesn’t add anything when you’re controlling your Mac from your iPhone.
You can switch this Mac to LogMeIn Free (which is, as the name implies, free) by clicking the About button in the left margin. Then, click on the “Switch Account or Subscription” button, sign in to your account, and switch the Available Subscriptions dropdown to LogMeIn Free.
6. Keep It Awake
If you plan on accessing this Mac remotely while it’s unattended, set your computer to never sleep.
Quit the LogMeIn application. LogMeIn places an icon in your menu bar to let you know that it is always running in the background, even if you log out of your Mac’s user account. However, LogMeIn can’t currently wake up any sleeping Mac, even if that Mac is plugged in via Ethernet to your network. So if you’ll want to control an unattended Mac, make sure that it can’t fall asleep–the setting is in System Preferences > Energy Saver.
7. Grab the App
This is what the LogMeIn Ignition app looks like when you launch it.
Your Mac is all set up–now it’s time to turn to your iPhone. Purchase LogMeIn Ignition ($29.99) from the App Store. It’s a Universal app, meaning it runs natively on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Launch the app and log in to your LogMeIn account.
8. Find Your Mac
There’s the computer I named in Step 3.
You will see a list of all the computers that you have added to your LogMeIn account. Touch the one that you want to remotely control. In the screenshot, I’ve only added one computer to my LogMeIn account so far, but I can add an unlimited number by repeating Steps 2 through 6 from my other machines.
9. Log Yourself In
LogMeIn Ignition can save this username and password if you’d like it to.
Log in to your Mac by using an administrator’s username and password that exists on that Mac. Flip the “Remember login” switch to On if you want LogMeIn Ignition to remember it next time.
10. Learn to Right-Click
Everything that you can do on your Mac, you can do from your iPhone.
You will be surprised at how quickly LogMeIn connects to your remote Mac, even over a 3G network. A handy screen of tips comes up on your iPhone to help you control your remote Mac. Read over these tips carefully to learn how to do important things like right-clicking, dragging items, and switching monitors. Click the green “Continue to Computer” button to begin the fun!
11. Take It Away
Believe it or not, you now have total control of your Mac from your iPhone.
You’re now successfully controlling your Mac remotely from your iPhone! Feel free to launch applications, open documents, check on your backups–anything you would normally do while sitting in front of your Mac. But this time around, you’re doing it all from the palm of your hand.