Apple switches off Back to My Mac remote access for all users

Posted:
in General Discussion
As promised, now that July has arrived, Apple has not just removed Back to My Mac from the current Mojave and Catalina, it has disabled it for all versions of macOS.




Months after Apple first announced that it was dropping Back to My Mac, the service was officially switched off on July 1, 2019. Introduced back in 2007 as a major part of Mac OS X Leopard, it was a way for users to remotely access their Macs across the internet.

The ability to share the screen of a Mac across the same network remains, and Apple does still offer a way to control Macs over the internet with the Apple Remote Desktop app. However, while Apple recommends that users switch to this administration tool, it costs $80, hasn't been updated for two years, and is generally unreliable.

In an updated support document, Apple divides the previous functions of Back to My Mac into three categories and then has recommendations for each.

Apple recommends macOS's Screen Sharing for viewing other machines.

"Screen sharing lets you use one Mac to view and control your other Mac remotely," says the support document. "This means you can open, move and close files and windows, and use apps -- even if you're in another location -- so you can always get what you need."

Despite that wording, though, Apple's Screen Sharing is only meant for Macs on the same network.

Similarly, Apple suggests using iCloud Drive as an alternative to Back to My Mac's ability to access and exchange documents. However, that limits access to only those documents that are stored within iCloud Drive, whereas Back to My Mac let users retrieve any document on their computer.






Apple initially announced that Back to My Mac would not be supported in macOS Mojave, but this was later amended to say that the service was being dropped entirely. As of July 1, 2019, it is no longer available to Mac users on any version of macOS.

There are many third-party alternatives, however, which range in features, price and ease of use, but which also match or exceed the benefits of Apple's Back to My Mac.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 607member
    ...does the 'incentive' to Apple's servers continue, while features that made the mac great are dropped...?

    I'm getting increasing app dowload errors in iTunes 12.6.3.6 as well, starting with iBooks, presumably making use of the reprortedly less capable 'configurator' the surrogate, or bandwidth using direct download tracked to each iOS device...?

    edited July 2
  • Reply 2 of 18
    matrix077matrix077 Posts: 753member
    Is this because of security reason? I can’t think of any other.
    edited July 2 coolfactor
  • Reply 3 of 18
    djames4242djames4242 Posts: 554member
    matrix077 said:
    Is this because of security reason? I can’t think of any other.
    More likely because it never worked reliably.
    matrix077StrangeDayslongpath
  • Reply 4 of 18
    PTSD PTSD Posts: 3unconfirmed, member
    "Despite that wording, though, Apple's Screen Sharing is only meant for Macs on the same network. " This has never been true. I use it nearly on a daily basis with clients all over the USA.
    coolfactor
  • Reply 5 of 18
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,534member

    Despite that wording, though, Apple's Screen Sharing is only meant for Macs on the same network. 

    This is entirely NOT true!

    I use Screen Sharing every week to control a Mac 500 kms away. My retail store staff sometimes have problems and I need to assist them. Just open Screen Sharing and enter the Apple ID of the remote user, and once they approve, you are connected. You can be in view-only mode or control mode.


    matrix077
  • Reply 6 of 18
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,272member
    PTSD said:
    "Despite that wording, though, Apple's Screen Sharing is only meant for Macs on the same network. " This has never been true. I use it nearly on a daily basis with clients all over the USA.

    Despite that wording, though, Apple's Screen Sharing is only meant for Macs on the same network. 
    This is entirely NOT true!

    I use Screen Sharing every week to control a Mac 500 kms away. My retail store staff sometimes have problems and I need to assist them. Just open Screen Sharing and enter the Apple ID of the remote user, and once they approve, you are connected. You can be in view-only mode or control mode.
    Are you two talking about the same thing as the article? I don't think I've ever seen anything in Screen Sharing.app for connecting over the internet. Back to My Mac as a service facilitated using the Screen Sharing app and they do offer VNC in their Screen Sharing section of the Sharing pane in System Preferences.

    Regardless, while I do miss the zero-setup with Back to My Mac and found it to work well, I do find that Team Viewer is considerably faster. Even of the Internet I find that it connects and reacts faster than using Screen Sharing over my WLAN.
    edited July 2
  • Reply 7 of 18
    Back to my Mac was never reliable for me. Gave up on it years ago. Jump Desktop has been the best alternative I have found cost/reliability wise. I don't use it often enough to be paying monthly for a service.
  • Reply 8 of 18
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 366member
    Back to my Mac was never reliable for me. Gave up on it years ago. Jump Desktop has been the best alternative I have found cost/reliability wise. I don't use it often enough to be paying monthly for a service.
    I'll have to take a look at that one.

    TeamViewer has ended connections to older versions for free users - I have one client who needs it maybe once every two months and can't justify paying $49US a month for the full version. Their system needs to run an older MacOS requiring Teamviewer 11 at the latest.
  • Reply 9 of 18
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 169member
    My current solution is to use the Screens app to connect to my Mac Pro over the internet. It has a cloud feature that will work like Back To My Mac and can find your Mac and connect remotely. Once I have connected with Screens, I can open and forward ports on my AirPort router to connect to any of the sharing options like remote disks. I don’t have a static IP but since Screens can always reach the machine, I can just get the current IP and update the connection as needed (not needed very often.)

    Mostly though, Screens is enough for my regular uses. Screens has a server application on my Mac and client software on iOS and macOS. It is relatively inexpensive and has been completely reliable in the last couple of years that I’ve been using it. Highly recommended. 

    As an aside, if you use an iPad Pro to connect to your Mac you might also want to look into SwitchResX to change the size of your remote desktop screen to fit comfortably on your iPad screen,. I have a 12.9” iPad Pro and find that a resolution of 1366x960 works great with Screens. You do have to fiddle around with turning off System Integrity Protection while setting up custom screen sizes but once the setup is done, you can turn SIP back on without any additional problems.
    edited July 2
  • Reply 10 of 18
    puggslypuggsly Posts: 26member
    I take issue with almost everyone out here. 1) Yes, you can use messages to request someone share their screen with you but it requires someone at the other end. This is not equal to back to my mac. 2) Yes, you can use a service to keep track of your external IP and open ports (for everyone) to allow for connections but this is not equal to the VPN tunnel that back to my mac created. 3) Back to my mac was not unreliable! It was not perfect and some routers would not allow the protocol to pass through but this is like complaining that Gmail is not reliable because corporate firewalls block it. Back to my mac was an amazing service that Apple killed without giving us any good reasons. The core technology is still running on Apple's servers which is how HomeKit remote access works. This is a service that Apple should have double'd down on and expanded to iPads and iPhones and given easier ways to approve other users but they killed it and I'm not happy!
    Solimanfred zornfastasleepFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 11 of 18
    jonrojonro Posts: 50member
    I've been using Parallels Access for remote access to my systems. I don't use it very often, but I've been very happy with the performance when I do. It's worth checking out.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    FaslaneFaslane Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    It never worked worth a crap anyways and TeamViewer is far better, same features and then some. One less thing to bloat my Mac that I used ONCE years ago. Good riddance.
  • Reply 13 of 18
    FaslaneFaslane Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    mknelson said:
    Back to my Mac was never reliable for me. Gave up on it years ago. Jump Desktop has been the best alternative I have found cost/reliability wise. I don't use it often enough to be paying monthly for a service.
    I'll have to take a look at that one.

    TeamViewer has ended connections to older versions for free users - I have one client who needs it maybe once every two months and can't justify paying $49US a month for the full version. Their system needs to run an older MacOS requiring Teamviewer 11 at the latest.
    You better check that. I've been using it for YEARS and literally just this am. Nothing has ever been charged to me or even asked. It's an honor system app. When you install select personal use. It has the exact same features as a paid/commercial version.
  • Reply 14 of 18
    longpathlongpath Posts: 226member
    matrix077 said:
    Is this because of security reason? I can’t think of any other.
    In my own case, it was impossible to use through the corporate firewall at my workplace, so I could not access my home machine. This might be solely an issue for my business, or it might have been a common occurrence. For what it's worth, I can't get Apple Remote Desktop to connect to my home Mac from work, either.
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Using iCloud Drive is definitely NOT an alternative for what I used Back to My Mac for. Although I have to agree that it wasn't always reliable as the local network you're connected to at the times would have to be set up to port port forward automatically and even then it sometimes just refused to work, it offered a solution to access my NAS from my home network outside of my house, and I use that NAS for my Time Machine backups, so if I ever were to lose or need something from way back, I could just connect to my NAS at home and start up Time Machine, without having to constantly save the non-static IP of my home network and setting my NAS open to the whole of the internet, since this was all handled by iCloud and your AppleID. I truly hope Apple will look into a similar solution to bring your home network with you everywhere you go, but I doubt they will since they just want to sell iCloud Drive space.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,881administrator

    Despite that wording, though, Apple's Screen Sharing is only meant for Macs on the same network. 

    This is entirely NOT true!

    I use Screen Sharing every week to control a Mac 500 kms away. My retail store staff sometimes have problems and I need to assist them. Just open Screen Sharing and enter the Apple ID of the remote user, and once they approve, you are connected. You can be in view-only mode or control mode.


    You're not talking about the same thing that we are. BTTM didn't require a person on the other end.
    edited July 2 djames4242
  • Reply 17 of 18
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,171member
    jdb8167 said:
    My current solution is to use the Screens app to connect to my Mac Pro over the internet. It has a cloud feature that will work like Back To My Mac and can find your Mac and connect remotely. Once I have connected with Screens, I can open and forward ports on my AirPort router to connect to any of the sharing options like remote disks. I don’t have a static IP but since Screens can always reach the machine, I can just get the current IP and update the connection as needed (not needed very often.)

    Mostly though, Screens is enough for my regular uses. Screens has a server application on my Mac and client software on iOS and macOS. It is relatively inexpensive and has been completely reliable in the last couple of years that I’ve been using it. Highly recommended. 

    As an aside, if you use an iPad Pro to connect to your Mac you might also want to look into SwitchResX to change the size of your remote desktop screen to fit comfortably on your iPad screen,. I have a 12.9” iPad Pro and find that a resolution of 1366x960 works great with Screens. You do have to fiddle around with turning off System Integrity Protection while setting up custom screen sizes but once the setup is done, you can turn SIP back on without any additional problems.
    Screens is great. However, it doesn't work to connect to my mini at home that's always on a shared-IP VPN. BTMM could, which was magic. RIP BTMM.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    This phase out makes a lot of sense. I don’t think the product has ever worked reliably for a large number of users. For it to work 100% reliably, it depended on being able to talk to your router and setup the permissions through the firewall. I never had a problem because I use an Apple AirPort Extreme Gen 2, but, experienced issues with other brands of networking equipment or on corporate networks. One time I called AppleCare, and they said that Back to my Mac was a common issue that people called about.

    As an alternative I would like to suggest AnyDesk. I started using it when the free version of TeamViewer kept flagging my installs as commercial even though they weren’t. Nothing is going to work as nicely as BTMM did when it was actually working, but AnyDesk does a good job for the price (free).
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