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Remotely control a Mac with Mac.remote for Android

Control music, videos, or a slide show on your Mac using an Android device.

Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Many of us rely on our computers as entertainment hubs for watching videos and listening to music. Having a remote control to manage simple functions like play/pause, fast-forward, and volume makes a lot of sense. Every now and then, you'll see a physical remote control included with a computer system, but they're pretty rare.

In the absence of an actual remote control, you can use an Android device with the Mac.remote app to control many multimedia applications on your Mac. You can even put your Mac to sleep, shut it down, and control the screen's brightness.

To connect your Android device to your Mac with Mac.remote, go to System Preferences > Sharing and make sure that the Remote Login service is turned on.

Next, launch the Mac.remote app, then enter your OS X username, password, and the IP address of your Mac in the Mac.remote app. The username is your short name in OS X, not your full name. If you're not sure what it is, launch the Terminal app and you should see your short name listed at the top of the window (and as part of the command prompt).

OS X Terminal with username
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Once you're logged in, you'll see the list of apps available to control on the left. By default, it's set up for iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, QuickTime Player, MPlayerX, VLC, Keynote, and iPhoto. After you've selected an app to control, you can play/pause, go back, go next, control the volume, and select "i" to see the title that's playing.

Mac.remote apps and player
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

You can also control some system functions by swiping the screen to the left. You'll see the controls for power, sleep, and screen brightness on the right side of the screen. To disconnect from your Mac or manage apps, tap on the Menu in the lower right-hand corner.

Mac.remote system controls and menu
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Mac.remote runs without ads for 5 days. After the initial 5 days, you can either use it with the ads or purchase the ad-free version. Alternatively, you can also try an app called Mac Remote that's very similar to Mac.remote.