If you want to control your Mac from your iOS device there are two very powerful solutions: FullControl ($1.99) and BetterTouchTool’s BTT Remote ($1.99).
We have reviewed useful VNC software that remotely display your Mac’s desktop directly on your iOS device, but FullControl and BTT Remote provide more direct actions for launching and quitting applications, controlling iTunes and the speaker volume, taking screenshots, and much more. Both of these solutions require some time setup, but if you want to control your Mac from the comforts of your sofa, recliner, or bed, then it’s worth the effort.
Both apps require that your iOS device and Mac share the same network, and both will usually automatically detect relevant ports and IP addresses for you. Don’t worry – you can also add password protection, if needed.
BTT Remote ($1.99)
BTT Remote, the companion iOS app for the free BetterTouchTool (reviewed here) is my go-to solution for controlling my Mac from across the room. I use it because it offers the same powerful Mac trackpad controls I use for controlling iTunes and the music streaming application, Rdio, as well as sleeping my Mac, maximizing and quitting windows, and even adding a five-star rating to a currently playing song.
I can’t count how many times I’ve used BTT Remote to put my iMac to sleep from the comforts of my bed when it awakes in the middle of the night and seems to take forever to go back to sleep.
The same basic and advanced Better Touch Tool controls you set up on your Mac can be accessed by BTT Remote on your iOS device.
Say I’m relaxing in my office recliner and I want to watch the latest episode of Cosmos on Amazon Instant Video. Being the automation geek that I am, I set up a simple action on BTT Remote that opens the Instant Video page on Amazon.
The setup involves selecting BTT Remote on the BTT desktop client, creating a new remote action by adding the predefined open URL action, and inserting the specified URL I want downloaded.
The action automatically shows up in the BTT Remote app on my iOS devices, and as I’m kicking back in my recliner, I simply tap the action and use the mini trackpad to click the episode button the downloaded webpage. Problem solved in the world of automation geekdom.
Naturally, this could apply to any number of your frequently accessed actions, and you can get as technical as you like. While other apps offer control of your Mac from afar, the combination of Better Touch Tool and BTT Remote provides some serious control.
FullControl ($1.99) may not win awards for user interface design, but it is win-win for controlling your Mac from your iOS device. FullControl doesn’t show your desktop screen on your iOS device, but it does let you control applications on your Mac – and we’re not just talking about novice Mac user actions like launching and quitting programs. To use the app you will first need to download FullControlHelper to run on your Mac.
So say you have a large 27 inch iMac that you want to control from across the room. FullControl allows you to navigate any application, control the volume, shutdown or sleep the computer, and lots more. In Safari, for example, you can open a new tab, navigate to one of your Top Sites, and enlarge the opened web page to view it better.
You can also open a mini keyboard and trackpad on FullControl and use them just as you were sitting at your computer.
All of the open applications in your dock appear in FullControl, and you can access any folder and their contents in the Finder.
You can also tap on an application in FullControl, and then tap on Tools > Edit [application] and select Online commands to download even more commands. Check out this tutorial for more information.
FullControl also includes a mini numeric pad for making a calculations, and numerous other functions, including brightness control, taking screenshots, and adding custom commands to applications.
Control at Your Fingertips
Which app you use is depends on your particular needs. With BTT Remote you will need to create most of your own actions, whereas FullControl already comes fully load with more actions than you probably will ever use. Considering the low price of both apps, I’d say download and use both.
Let us know what you think of BTT Remote and FullControl and how you’re using one or both of them for controlling your Mac desktop.