MobileMe 101: How to Set Up Back to My Mac

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Keeping your documents in the cloud sounds good at first, until you start to realize you’ve accumulated several terabytes of files over the years.  Most online storage plans are more expensive in terms of cost per gigabyte than internal or external drives in an at-home configuration. If you have MobileMe, however, you can access your home Mac (and all attached storage and installed apps) from wherever you happen to be. Here’s how.

Setting up the Router

Probably the most important step is configuring your router.  The router must support NAT Port Mapping Protocol (NAT-PMP) or Universal Plug and Play (UPnP).  Using Apple’s AirPort routers, the configuration is straightforward:

  1. Launch the AirPort Utility and click on Manual Setup.
  2. Click on the Internet icon.
  3. Make sure Share a public IP address is selected under Connection Sharing in the Internet Connection tab.
  4. Under the NAT tab, check the Enable NAT Port Mapping Protocol checkbox.
  5. Update to apply the changes you made.

Setting up a Shared Drive

Another great feature of the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule solutions is that they both support hosting connected drives over MobileMe.  This would include access to several external drives connected via a USB hub. This is a great solution if you don’t have multiple Macs, but do have home storage that you connect to when you are at home. Keep in mind that these instructions apply to Apple AirPort routers only:

  1. Launch the AirPort Utility and click on Manual Setup.
  2. Click on the Advanced icon and select the MobileMe tab.
  3. Enter your MobileMe credentials.
  4. Update to apply the changes you made.

Setting up the Host Mac (or Macs)

On the Macs you want to be able to access while you’re away, you’ll need to enable Back to My Mac using the following steps:

  1. From System Preferences, under Internet and Wireless, select MobileMe.
  2. On the Account tab, click on the Sign In button and enter your MobileMe credentials.
  3. Once signed in, choose the Back to My Mac tab, click on the Turn On Back to My Mac button.
  4. Then from System Preferences under Internet and Wireless, select Sharing.
  5. Turn on Screen and/or File Sharing.

For security purposes, it’s important to limit the users who can access these features.  Keep in mind this may also limit what files are accessible remotely. There’s also a Wake for network access feature configurable in the Energy Saver preferences if you’d rather your computer not be running constantly.

Accessing Your Mac Remotely

Now you can log on to and access any files on your Mac and attached drives from anywhere. All you need to do is the following on the remote Mac you’re accessing your home machine(s) from:

  1. From System Preferences, under Internet and Wireless, select MobileMe
  2. On the Account tab, click on the Sign In button and enter your MobileMe credentials
  3. On the Back to My Mac tab, click on the Turn On Back to My Mac button

From here, you use the finder to connect to your remote Mac.  Under the Shared section in the far left panel of your Finder, you should see the host name of your Mac, and the name of any Airport Extreme or Time Capsule for which you’ve enabled MobileMe access. If the computer you’re accessing from isn’t yours, remember to sign out of your MobileMe account under System Preferences when you’re through.

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