Apple Remote Desktop: It’s Awesome!

The last couple of weeks I started using Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) in a whole new way. I used ARD only to take control over a computer and preform a quick fix for a client. But ARD is so much more than just a simple “screen sharing program.”

Everybody knows the standard features of this application. I want to write about how I use ARD in the everyday-to-day work flow of a system administrator.

For example, the report feature is awesome. I use this a lot when I’m with a client who would like to know which computers should be upgraded. Especially when they are planning a software upgrade it’s necessary to know if their computers are able to run this software. So with a simple click of the mouse you’re able to get a report on all the computers hardware and software. I don’t have to run around the office and look at every computer myself. This saves loads of time.

This brings me to another great feature which is the ability to generate a report on what software people are using. It gives you the so much more control on what your clients have installed on their computer. And it’s especially convenient when the users have administrator rights on their computers and thus are able to install almost everything on their computers. This report feature gives you just a bit more insight in what the users have installed and it makes it a more manageable…

What I do when I’m visiting, for example, a client every week on Thursday I schedule ARD to boot up every computer on 09.00 am. This saves me a lot of time. It makes it easy for me to do maintenance on the computers and don’t have to manual put them on. When you’re working in a big building this is something you really appreciate! When I’m done for the day I have another schedule which shuts down all the computers at 8.00 pm.

The other big “Time Saver” is the ability to copy files to multiple computers. I use this often with settings like the custom.printer.plist. It’s very nice to have all the settings for your printers exactly the same on all computers . With a couple of clicks in ARD you got the plist installed on all the computers in the network.

The other thing I like very much is “Curtain Mode”. This lets you do “your thing” without the user watching over your shoulder. Besides that, when the user is not on his workplace it still looks weird for the people walking around that the mouse is moving and screens are flashing while there is nobody behind the computer. So I also use this feature a lot!

I think that ARD is a tool every Apple system administrator should use every day. This is not a promotion thing but it just saves you a lot of time!