Which is better Splashtop or LogMeIn

Remote Access: The best remote solutions for Mac and iOS

Stephan Wiesend

Remote control software enables the Mac to be accessed via iPhone or the parents' computer to be repaired. We show what solutions are available for Mac and iPhone in addition to ARD and Teamviewer.

EnlargeRemote solutions such as ARD enable remote access to other devices

It used to be common for companies to send their support staff to customers, or for colleagues or family members to solve PC problems on site. Problems are being solved more and more often via remote software, as the company saves a lot of expenses. In the face of home office and Corona, remote solutions have continued to gain popularity. Remote solutions such as Teamviewer and Anydesk are by far not only suitable for IT supporters. Remote maintenance software is also extremely useful if you want to start an update on your Mac Mini hanging on the TV or if you want to solve the software problem of a family member or colleague. The connection from the Mac to the PC or iPad to the Linux computer is no problem either.

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For access to its own system, Apple previously offered its own system called "Back to My Mac" or "Access to my Mac". Recently, however, Apple discontinued the service and removed it from OS 10.14.

As an alternative, Apple recommends its fee-based Remote Desktop solution, but this 90-euro solution is tailored to system administrators. However, there are countless other remote control solutions such as Team Viewer, Splash Desktop, and numerous open source solutions. There are integrated solutions for the Mac, but interesting programs such as Teamviewer and Any Desk for cross-platform access. The latter are not only suitable for individual users, but also for companies. We show some of the possibilities for Mac and iOS.

If you install one of the solutions on your iPad or iPhone, the apps also enable the use of desktop programs or media files, and Teamviewer even offers access to an iOS device, albeit with restrictions.

Apple Screen Sharing: Pre-installed and free

All newer Mac versions have a useful entry called “Screen Sharing” under the “Shares” system setting. If this option is active on a computer in the same network, you can very easily connect to this remote Mac. If you want to access the Mac in question, you open a Finder window and see the Mac to be controlled in the "Network" or "Places" entry. If you click once on the Mac, you can now see the "Screen Share" button in the upper right corner of the Finder window.

The utility of the same name can alternatively call up the computer by entering the host name or Apple ID; operation is simple and self-explanatory. With a good network connection, the computer can be operated comfortably; data can be exchanged with the remote computer using drag-and-drop or the clipboard.

EnlargeTo start the connection, click on the "Screen sharing" button.

If a colleague or family member has a Mac problem, you can also start remote access via the chat program Messages. For example, you can use the "Details" button for screen access to ask a chat partner for access to the Mac. A connection with a Windows computer is not possible, however, and remote control of a Mac via iPad or iPhone is also not possible.

EnlargeYou can share your Mac screen via chat.

In our experience, solutions such as Team Viewer are more reliable and easier to configure for access via the Internet.

Team Viewer: specialist in IT support

Team Viewer has become an indispensable part of everyday IT life in Germany; most support staff use the convenient solution. The simple installation and operation of the client software is particularly ideal for telephone support: the user with problems only needs to load and start the client program; the ID number and password are displayed in the start window. If he passes on the ID and password, the support employee can connect immediately. Additional functions such as chat and video chat are also geared towards this task. One reason for its widespread use: private users can use the software with up to 5 devices free of charge.

EnlargeThe installation has become a bit more complicated on a current Mac, the user must first allow the control of the Mac.

The company version is comparatively expensive, however, for commercial use the fee starts at 335 euros per year and user. An iOS and Android app are also available, which can be used to access desktop computers via smartphone or tablet - for support or the use of a desktop application. As with the other solutions from third-party manufacturers, Team Viewer uses its own protocol instead of the VNC protocol, which compresses the transmitted data. The installation has become a bit more complicated on a current Mac, the user must first allow the control of the Mac via the "Security" system setting.

You even have limited access to an iOS device: if you install the Teamviewer Quick Support app on your iPad or iPhone, you can share your iOS screen with iOS 11 or later. The remote support employee cannot control the iOS device but can see the screen. You can show him a problem like that. In addition, there is the upcoming Teamviewer Pilot mobile solution, in which a customer with a smartphone allows the helper to access his smartphone camera in order to solve a more complex problem. Access to an Android mobile phone is also possible via the Quick Support app.

EnlargeTeamviewer's strength is its simple configuration.

Splashtop: Well-engineered solution for companies and private individuals

Splashtop Personal can also be used free of charge by private users, but use is then limited to the home network. The so-called streamer, which has to run on the remote Mac, is available for Macs from OS 10.7; a free online account is required to use it. Remote access - for example from the iPhone while on the move - is only possible after paying an additional fee of US $ 17 per year. But here, too, you are limited to private use, the company license is significantly more expensive and costs from $ 60 per year.

One of the strengths of the mature and widespread solution is its first-class performance. An HD video that we played on a local WLAN network as a test runs a bit jerkily, but is far more usable than with Apple's screen sharing.

There are a few other special solutions: There is the SOS solution especially for IT supporters (from 200 dollars per year). The Mirroring 360 solution from the same company is aimed more at educational institutions. This solution is specially designed for presentations and lessons in schools and companies and costs from $ 12 (one-time).

EnlargeYou can even play HD videos via remote software, but the CPU load on the client increases significantly.

AnyDesk: alternative to Team Viewer

The German solution AnyDesk from Stuttgart has been available since 2014 - also free of charge for private users. According to the manufacturer, the specialty of Any Desk is its particularly good performance, which should enable programs such as CAD or video editors to be operated smoothly - a task at which most remote control solutions fail. The remote solution uses, among other things, particularly fast video compression with its own video codec DeskRT. According to our own measurements, the solution achieves up to three times higher frame rates than the competitor Teamviewer and is also clearly superior to RDP or Splashtop. In our tests, the solution makes a very high-performance impression.

The iOS app is free. To establish a connection, you have to enter the device name of the remote Mac, the other manufacturers offer more elegant solutions such as a central web service. However, under the enhanced security settings of macOS 10.14, the user must first enable access via the "Security" system setting.

An iOS version is available, commercial use costs from 99 euros per year with the lite version. The Pro version costs twice as much, but there are also functions for advanced users such as the REST interface, your own namespace and address book. Remote control from Android computers is also possible.

EnlargeAny Desktop offers many options, but we had problems with the sound transmission.

Microsoft Remote Desktop: Control your PC from your Mac

What is often overlooked in addition to the team viewer and screen sharing: Microsoft's remote access solution Microsoft Remote Desktop is available for both iOS and Mac. The solution is inconspicuous, but works stably and reliably. However, it can only be used to access Windows computers, not Mac clients. With older home versions of Windows Remote Desktop is also not available, only with the company versions Windows Professional, Enterprise and Windows Server.

EnlargeRemote Desktop is also available as an iOS version.

Parallels Access: Control Mac from iOS device

Parallels Access actually focuses less on support than on remote access to a Mac: If you use your iPad for work, you often come up against the limits of the iOS system. In such cases Parallels Access should help, which allows access to Mac and PC from the iPad or iPhone. There are dozens of solutions for this in the App Store, and the solutions already presented are ideal. The specialty of Parallels Access, however, is a web service and Mac software that make it easier to establish a connection - and an excellent range of functions. The convenient and reliable solution from Parallels is also suitable for company users; it costs individual users from 18 euros per year of use. Android is also supported.

Parallels Access is one of the fastest solutions we know for this task. In our tests we can easily access a remote Mac from an iPad Pro and can use Excel, Photoshop and Word almost like on a desktop. It is also possible to play HD videos in a WLAN network. Remote access can be achieved from PC and Mac alike via any HTML5 browser - for example, to access the workstation on a third-party computer. To do this, you log in to your Parallels account and you can access your computer without installing any software. This works very well, but a little more functions are available when accessing via app. The iOS app also has its own program overview and sophisticated file management. The sharing of files is also possible, as is the integration of cloud services. Transferring the clipboard between Mac and iPad, however, is not supported. From version 6 there is also a new remote help: You can send a user a special link that enables access to his Mac or PC.

EnlargeThe solution from Stuttgart should offer particularly good connection quality.

LogMeIN

The company LogMeIn was founded 17 years ago, which is mainly known in the USA and offers numerous solutions: With LogMeIn Rescue there is a special solution for IT supporters and help desks, GotoMeeting is a special solution for video conferences that is for individual users the solution Pro thought. A free version is no longer available, the remote software from Pro by LogMeIN ​​now costs from $ 350 per year - 1TB of storage and a full version of the password management software Last Pass are included. It also offers advanced functions such as remote printing and displaying multiple monitors. Versions for Android and iOS are also available.

EnlargeThe LogMeIn solution can also be used with an iPhone.

Apple Remote Desktop: For system administrators

Apple's 90 Euro app ARD looks like a simple remote control solution at first glance, as you can easily call up the screen of a remote Mac with it. The program is primarily intended for admins who manage dozens of company Macs. The strengths are the many integrated administration functions: You can install programs on dozens of Macs with ARD, computers that cannot be reached can be updated later on request. In order not to show too much to the user during sensitive actions, there is even a "curtain mode". For the management of the Mac inventory, ARD offers asset management functions which, in addition to the hardware and software equipment, can even evaluate software usage. Automation of tasks is possible with Automator, Unix scripts can also be used. Access to PCs and Linux computers is possible using the VNC protocol and there is no iOS version.

However, the app was last fundamentally updated in 2017, here the app got touchbar support, an auxiliary pointer for markings, improved security and compatibility mode for clients from OS X 10.8 to OS X 10.10.

EnlargeApple Remote Desktop offers unique management capabilities.

NoMachine: Open Source

The NoMachine or NX solution was previously only known in Linux circles and uses its own proprietary protocol. However, there have long been clients for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, even if the developers are obviously focusing on the Linux platform. The solution, which can be used free of charge, is more interesting for experienced users or companies; operation and configuration are significantly less convenient than with the competition. The ratings of the iOS app in the App Store are also rather mediocre.

However, it offers a good range of functions and high speed. For corporate customers there is support and a server license from 3500 dollars per year.

Jump Desktop: Good VNC client

Jump Desktop is less of a complete solution than a top notch and sophisticated remote client. The two standard protocols VNC and RDP provided by Apple and Microsoft are supported, but with its own new "Fluid" protocol, the software achieves better image quality and performance than Apple's screen sharing functions. There is no Windows client, but access is possible via VNC or RDP. The app has good encryption and a good range of functions. So you can automatically use Mac key commands when controlling a Windows computer. The Mac app costs 15 euros, and versions for iOS and Android are available. There is also a new solution for teams.

EnlargeJump Desktop is a mature Mac solution.