Telecommuting with OS X Part III – Online Tools

We’ve discussed how to get into your company network and deal with office documents and email. Now, we must deal with proprietary business applications that most likely don’t have an OS X version. We’ll also get into web based online collaboration and project management tools that can be used anywhere, regardless of platform.

Remote Access
With remote access, you basically control another computer from your computer over a network connection. Think of it like controlling another computer by remote control. When you remote in, a screen will pop up and you will see the desktop of the other computer which you then use as if you were sitting in front of it. This is an easy way to deal with those applications that must be run only on your work machine.

There’s a few methods of using Remote Access. One is to use the Microsoft Windows Remote Desktop to remote into Windows machines. On the other side of the coin, there is Apple Remote Desktop to remote into OS X machines. There’s the open VNC standard and various commercial software such as GoToMyPC, LogMeIn, PCAnywhere, or the shareware VNC Viewer/Server.

Windows Remote Desktop:
This is an easy way to get in to your desktop at work, you VPN in to the network and then run Windows Remote Desktop to log in to your PC. The latest version is as of this writing, still a beta but it is stable and usable. You can download it from Microsoft here.

To set up your PC for remote access:
– You will need either Windows XP Professional, Vista Business, Enterprise or Ultimate.
– Your workplace network needs to permit Remote Desktop Connections.
– You will need administrator rights (contact IT for assistance) to set this up.

Note: This will not work with Vista or XP Home editions.

Step 1. Go to the Control Panel.

Step 2. Select System and click on the Remote tab at the top.

Step 3. Check the checkbox next to “Allow users to connect remotely to this computer”.

Enabling Windows Remote Desktop

Step 4. Make sure the Windows firewall (or any other firewall software) will allow remote connections.

Step 5. Go to the Control Panel and select Security Center.

Step 6. Choose Windows firewall.

Step 7. Make sure the “Don’t allow exceptions” box is unchecked.

Step 8. At the top, click on the Exceptions tab.

Step 9. Make sure the exception for Remote Desktop is checked.

Enabling Windows Remote Desktop

Step 10. Go back to the Control Panel and choose System again.

Step 11. Click on the “Computer Name” tab at the top.

Step 12. Write down the computer’s name.

Step 13. Close the Control Panel and leave the computer running and locked. (or log off)
Note: If your company has an environmental awareness policy (and they should), have them set the computer so it will automatically turn on in the morning and then shut down at night. Or, enable wake on LAN, so if it is sleeping, when you remote in it will wake up.

To connect:
Step 1. Make sure you are connected to the company network via VPN.

Step 2. Open the OS X Microsoft Remote Desktop client.

Step 3. Type the name of the computer in the address field.

Windows Remote Desktop OS X Client

Step 4. Click on connect.

Step 5. Enter your name and password.

Step 6. The screen will open up and you will see your desktop.

Next Page: Apple Remote Desktop.

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