Set up and use Back to My Mac

With Back to My Mac, you can connect to your other Macs securely over the Internet.

Back to My Mac is an iCloud feature that lets you set up a network of Mac computers that you can access remotely. Here’s what you can do with Back to My Mac:

  • File sharing: Find files and folders on your remote Mac and drag them to your local Mac.
  • Screen sharing: Use your remote Mac just like you were sitting in front of it. You can use your local mouse and keyboard to open applications and edit documents on your remote Mac.

Starting with macOS Mojave, Back to My Mac is no longer available. Learn how to use Cloud Drive, screen sharing, and Apple Remote Desktop instead.

What you need

To set up and use Back to My Mac, you need these things:

  • Two or more Mac computers using OS X Lion v10.7.5 or later, but no later than macOS High Sierra. Each computer must be signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID.
  • An AirPort Time Capsule, AirPort Extreme, or AirPort Express Base Station or other Internet router that supports UPnP or NAT-PMP, with the latest available firmware. AirPort base stations require firmware version 7.6.1 or later for and AirPort Utility 6.3 or later.
  • For screen sharing, a 300 Kbps (or faster) bi-directional (up/down) Internet connection between computers. You might be able to use file sharing with slower connections. If file sharing isn't working like you expect, check your settings and connections.
  • A firewall that allows remote connections. Some firewalls might prevent certain Back to My Mac connections. For example, when you're at home, you might not be able to connect to your Mac at work. But when you're at work, you might be able to connect to your Mac at home. If you aren't sure whether the firewall will allow Back to My Mac connections, check with your organization's network administrator. 

To use an AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule to access files on an external hard drive, you need a USB hard drive formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled). When you use it with Back to My Mac, your hard drive will appear as the base station under Shared in the Finder sidebar.

Set up Back to My Mac

To get started, you need to set up Back to My Mac on each Mac that you want to use: 

  1. Choose Apple () menu > System Preferences, then click iCloud.
  2. If you aren't already signed in to iCloud, enter the Apple ID you use with iCloud and click Sign In.
  3. Select Back to My Mac.
  4. Follow any setup instructions that you see next to Back to My Mac.
  5. Set up security options.

If you want to access files on a hard drive connected to an AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule, follow these steps to set up Back to My Mac on your base station:

  1. Make sure you're on the same local area network (LAN) as the AirPort base station that you want to set up.
  2. Open AirPort Utility, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  3. Select the AirPort base station that you want to use with Back to My Mac, then click Edit. If you don't see the base station, click Other Wi-Fi Devices to see a list of available base stations. You might need to choose a different Network Interface from the pop-up menu.
  4. Enter the base station password. This password is different from your iCloud password.
  5. Click the Base Station tab.
  6. In the Back to my Mac section, click the Add (+) button and enter the Apple ID and password you use with Back to My Mac. You should see a green status indicator showing that Back to My Mac is turned on.
  7. Click Update to save your changes.

Connect to a remote Mac or AirPort base station in your Back to My Mac network

After you set up each Mac or AirPort base station, you can connect to it remotely:

  1. From the menu bar in the Finder, choose Finder > Preferences, then click the Sidebar tab.
  2. In the Shared section, select Back to My Mac. 
  3. Open a Finder window, and look for the Shared section in the sidebar. If you don’t see any shared computers or base stations, move the pointer over the word Shared and click Show.
  4. Select the remote computer or base station that you want to access and click Connect As. (To share a screen with your remote Mac, select the Mac and click Share Screen.) If you don't see the Mac or base station that you're looking for, click All to see a list of available Mac computers and base stations.

Remove a Mac or AirPort base station from your Back to My Mac network

You can turn off Back to My Mac whenever you want. When you do, you'll remove that Mac or AirPort base station from your Back to My Mac network.

On the Mac that you want to remove, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Apple () menu > System Preferences, then click iCloud.
  2. Deselect Back to My Mac to turn it off. Or click Sign Out to sign out of iCloud completely.

To remove a base station, follow these steps:

  1. Open AirPort Utility, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  2. Select the AirPort base station that you don't want to use anymore, then click Edit. If you don't see the base station, click Other Wi-Fi Devices to see a list of available base stations. You might need to choose a different Network Interface from the pop-up menu.
  3. Enter the base station password. This password is different from your iCloud password.
  4. Select the Base Station tab.
  5. In the Back to My Mac section, click the Remove (–) button and enter the Apple ID you use with Back to My Mac. The green status indicator should disappear, showing that Back to My Mac is turned off.
  6. Click Update to save your changes.

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