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> Select Macs or Groups from the main list (1) and click Observe (2) to start the spying. Or select one Mac and click Control or Curtain to connect to it and take over.
> Use these buttons (3) to send files, packages, or Unix commands to selected clients.
> Select a task from the Active Tasks list (4) and view its progress here (5).
> Run reports (6) to find out exactly what your worker rats have been doing on their Macs while the cat's away.
WHAT YOU NEED
> Apple Remote Desktop 3.1 ($299 or $499)
> More than one Mac running Mac OS 10.3.9 or later in dire need of your admin skills
Every aspiring Mac geek has at least occasional self-aggrandizing fantasies about joining the IT department to become the hero of befuddled end users everywhere. (Or is that just us?) If you're the one your family, friends, or coworkers look to with deer-in-the-headlights eyes when their Macs misbehave, promote yourself to system administrator. With that beefy title, you'll feel better about dropping $300 to $500 on Apple's Remote Desktop (known henceforth as ARD). But once you're rocking all of the networked Macs from your own desktop, you'll wonder how you ever got along without this app. Install ARD on the Mac you want to use to manage the others and follow along as we show you how to set it up and micromanage a gaggle of client Macs on your local network or over the Internet at large: running reports, updating software, and performing routine maintenance. Oh, and taking control of users' Macs while they're trying to work. That's the fun part.
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BONUS TIP #1: Try the Free Way
Remote Desktop is slick, but if it seems like overkill for your remote-access needs, consider trying a VNC (virtual network computing) app such as Chicken of the VNC (free). If you set up other Macs as we describe in the first part of this how-to, go to System Preferences > Sharing, highlight Apple Remote Desktop, and click Access Privileges. On the next screen, check the box labeled "VNC viewers may control screen with password" and supply a password. VNC isn't nearly as full-featured as ARD, but it's way more free.