Inquiring minds want to know. Coworkers often ask me how they can connect from a Mac in the office to a Mac at home. It’s either easy or a pain in the neck (or, your body part inserted here).
When it works, it’s point and click simple, and takes minutes. When it doesn’t work, the process of figuring out why can chew up a chunk of the day. Here’s an easy way app that’s easy. When it works.
Slinky, Slick, Sloppy Setup, Or Slink?
Slink is the name of an elegant Mac app that gives you the option of connecting a remote Mac to a home Mac (or, another Mac parked somewhere else on the internet).
If you’ve ever connected two Macs at home (or the office) then Slick works much the same way.
Slink is a network app that connects using Bonjour, Apple’s network connection protocol. Once connected from office to home Mac, all the basic Mac shared services will appear on the remote Mac.
That includes the Finder, iPhoto, iTunes, and other apps. Slink takes care of the behind-the-scenes connection difficulties, so you can avoid using a dictionary to figure out what NAT or Dynamic IP or Static IP address means.
Slink is an app that runs on your remote Mac, and Slink is a Preference Pane that installs on your home Mac so the two can connect. Apple’s Back To My Mac service works, too, but comes with the annual MobileMe price tag. Slink is far less expensive.
Firewalls can slow down the setup and connection process for many users, so Slink builds in a Connection Doctor and Firewall Buster functions for those tricky network connections and settings.
Slink sets up in a minute on both Macs. Preferences are minimal. Once set up there’s not much to do except connect.
You can choose to run Slink when you start up your Mac, run Slink as an app or from the Menubar.
Network connection settings are kept to a minimum. Growl notification services are built in so your Mac can tell you wants happening when connecting, when disconnecting, or when a connection has failed.
My preference has been to run Slink from the Mac’s Menubar.
When Slink connects to your home Mac from your remote Mac, all the Bonjour services you choose will be available on the remote Mac and show up in a Finder-like window.
All you’ll need to get logged in is the Slink ID and a username.
You’ll be able to run iTunes, iPhoto and other apps and services.
The biggest advantage to using Slink (instead of MobileMe and Apple’s Back To My Mac service is the lower cost. Otherwise, you can screen share the Mac at home on the remote Mac at the office or on the road.
The biggest disadvantage to any kind of remote connection between office Mac and home Mac will be what happens when the connection doesn’t work. This is the complaint and problem I hear the most, and it’s usually not Slink’s fault.
Some home and office network connection setups have multiple layers. Slink usually manages each layer appropriately, but if you have a cable modem or DSL modem and an Apple Airport Extreme or any other network layer, connecting can become troublesome.
Under the right network setup, Slink installs on both Macs with ease, logging in and connecting is a couple of clicks, and what you can end up with is complete screen sharing of the home Mac from a remote Mac.