Friday Favorite: ShareTool
Another Friday Favorite, our weekly opportunity to get all sloppy over our most-loved applications.
If you have an always-on Mac at home, a decent upstream connection and another Mac anywhere outside of your home network, you might find ShareTool to be as useful as I do. It allows you -- with an amazing degree of simplicity -- to access your Bonjour services on a remote machine as if you were still within your home network. It does this over an SSH encrypted connection (and also automatically sets up a proxy for secure web-browsing over the tunnel). Yes, you can get some of these benefits with a simple SSH tunnel, or you could set up a VPN using HamachiX, but the simple fact that ShareTool "Just Works" makes it my favorite choice for everything from screen sharing to iTunes streaming.
I use ShareTool on a Mac Mini, with an Airport Extreme Base Station on a connection that gets about 800k average upload speed. iTunes streaming is flawless, and remote drive access is as good or better than just using SFTP. Setup is as simple as choosing a port (defaults to 22, the standard SSH port) to share on and hitting "Share" on your home Mac. After that, you can set it to start at login, and begin sharing on launch. Then, on your remote machine, you just need to enter an IP or domain and the port, and the rest is automatic. You can select which Bonjour services to enable or just go for broke and enable everything. I've got a static IP these days, but services like No-IP and DynDNS work great if you have a dynamic IP address. ShareTool can even handle updating the dynamic IP service for you, so you don't have to run any daemons.
ShareTool is provided by YazSoft, and a free trial is available for download on the main page. The pricing structure requires a license for every computer, and a pair of licenses costs $30USD (5 for $75USD). YazSoft provides free updates within a major version number (1.x customers get all 1.x updates for free). If you're looking for an easy way to keep your entire home network handy anywhere you go, it might be worth a try.
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