Our very own James Potter recently reviewed Screens for iPad and gave a great breakdown of how the iPad can be used to remotely control a Mac or PC. However, I wanted to quickly post on how Screens — and its companion desktop app, Screens Connect — has helped me.
A few months ago, I had invited a really techy friend of mine to help me set up port forwarding on my home router so that I could VNC into my Mac from my iPad. He walked me through how to forward port 5900 for VNC to my Mac, and we also set up port 22 for SSH. I’m still not crystal clear on the specifics, but it’s my understanding that establishing a remote desktop session over VNC is convenient, but doing VNC through an SSH tunnel is even more secure (so the latter was my real goal).
We then set up Remote Login and Screen Sharing within the System Preferences of my MacBook, at which point all was set to go for remotely controlling my MacBook from my iPad. Unlike James, I wasn’t really doing this for productivity’s sake. I just wanted to be able to wake up my Mac so that I could move songs into iTunes Match, or wake the Mac up in order to start streaming videos via AirVideo HD.
I then bought the cheapest and highest-rated VNC app I could find: Remoter VNC. My setup worked nicely when my iPad was on the home network, but I found it confusing when I tried to log in remotely over SSH. There were so many extra settings within the app and a number of in-app purchases that I didn’t totally understand, and so I was stumped for a few weeks. I would tinker with the VNC and SSH settings intermittently after work, but nothing seemed to work.
Then I remembered seeing Screens VNC on a MacStories post, so I reached out to Edovia to see if they could provide a cleaner solution. They got back to me a few days with a code for Screens on my iPad, and I then installed Edovia’s Screens Connect utility on my Mac. James mentioned that Screens makes remote desktop software easy for users without much networking experience, but I wanted to emphasize just how well it does that. All I had to do was make a Screens Connect login, tick a box saying that I wanted to login via an SSH tunnel, and that was it. I logged into Screens Connect on the iPad app, and everything just worked. I was able to login remotely over Wi-Fi from my parents’ house, and even from work while on LTE.
I was previously unsure of Screens and what it really offered for $20, but after seeing how confusing VNC and SSH tunnelling can be for me, I’d now very quickly recommend the Screens as a very big time and hassle saver. Screens is clean and easy to use, and Screens Connect takes all the difficulty out of setting your computers up for remote desktop connection.