remote mac control
May 24, 2006 12:22 PM   Subscribe

How do I turn off my home email client when I am away from the (macintosh) computer?

Sometimes I forget to log out of my home Mac's email, and it is set to check every 10 minutes so consequently when I want to check my Web-based version of my home email there is usually nothing there because the home mac has already picked it up. Is there a way for me to log into the Mac remotely? I use DSL and a switch. The Macs IP is given by the DSL router, so I know I can't get there using that number. (OSX-Tiger and Eudora if that helps.)
posted by Gungho to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
You can configure Eudora to leave copies of mail on the server for precisely this reason.
posted by pmbuko at 12:28 PM on May 24, 2006

Instead of 'turning off' your home email why not just have it leave things on the server when it checks for mail...that would leave new messages accessible to you when you check via the web. An auto expiration set to even 1 day could alleviate the problem you're having. Unless you're receiving huge attachments and filling up your mailbox this should solve the problem. I assume you're using POP mail, you should also check to see if your host supports IMAP. This would leave your mail on the server at all times, accessible from any computer via a mail reader or the web access.

If you do want to access your mac from the outside it's possible even with a dynamic IP via a service like You can have your computer or (better option) router talk to their servers and give your dynamic IP, which they can translate to an address you can rely on. It just involves forwarding some ports to your local machine and having some kind of control client like Apple remote desktop or one of the free alternatives.
posted by bcnarc at 12:30 PM on May 24, 2006

You could using VNC (free), Timbuktu or Apple Remote Desktop (both $$$). You'd have to port forward the specific outside requests to your mac's internal IP using your router's software.

It's kind of a pain to setup, but once you figure out the port number your remote client uses and your internal IP, you just run the server on your home machine, then connect to your home computer at work using the IP your router grabbed. If you want to go the extra mile, sign up for dynamic dns, so you have a name that is easier to remember than the IP, which can change (like your home IP would be and you could connect from anywhere.
posted by mathowie at 12:31 PM on May 24, 2006

Ditto. Just set your client to leave copies of the mail on the server for x days, or until it's deleted, or whatever suits you best.

Otherwise you're talking about setting up a script to kill the email client when you send it a certain message, or a whole remote desktop solution for something that doesn't really need that much work.

If you really want the remote dekstop solution, you can probably tunnel VNC through to your desktop, depending on the switch/router in question.
posted by tiamat at 12:31 PM on May 24, 2006

Another option: You should be able to set some power-saving settings (sorry, I can't tell you the exact steps for a Mac) so that the computer "hibernates" (essentially turns off, but when you wake it up everything is the way you left it) after 30 minutes (for example) of inactivity. While the computer is in this powered-down state, it won't be downloading e-mail.
posted by winston at 12:39 PM on May 24, 2006

The easiest thing is to just leave the mail on the server for a day or whatever. You can set this up in too (preferences/accounts/advanced).

If you're set on the idea of quitting your mail client when you aren't present, and have a Bluetooth phone, you could use Salling Clicker to trigger a "quit my mail client" script when you (or more precisely, your phone) goes out of range. But that's really taking the long way 'round.
posted by adamrice at 12:49 PM on May 24, 2006

Check out the macosxhints' tip Perform tasks on sleep with AppleScript. You'd need to tweak the schedule of the cron job, but it'll quit email if you're idle. Just set it to run every 15 minutes or so.
posted by revgeorge at 1:13 PM on May 24, 2006

I've used the trick of buffering mail on a POP server by setting my clients to leave it there for 3-4 days. I use IMAP these days so I don't have to worry about this kind of thing, plus I have access to all my mail folders (sent, drafts, etc) from anywhere.

One thing you could do in a pinch is change your mailserver password so the home machine can no longer retrive messages.
posted by Good Brain at 1:18 PM on May 24, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks to all. I guess it is easiest to leave it on the POP server.
posted by Gungho at 1:51 PM on May 24, 2006

Switch to IMAP. It'll be much easier in the long run. For the time being, yeah, you can set to leave mail on the server... but IMAP will save you many, many headaches.
posted by devilsbrigade at 3:46 PM on May 24, 2006

The problem with IMAP is that you never really have your e-mail. You're at the whim of whoever runs your e-mail server as to whether you'll be able to search, how it's backed up, etc. If your ISP goes out of business or has a server crash you might lose everything. Additionally, if you change e-mail providers at some point there's no way to move mail from one IMAP server to another. So you'll want to periodically download your mail with POP anyway, so you actually have it on your computer and none of these scenarios will affect you.

I suggest using both. My home client downloads with POP (leaving the messages on the server 3 days, and I have a schedule to turn off POP connections during the day so that new mail still shows up as new elsewhere) but I check it at work and on my laptop with IMAP.
posted by kindall at 5:02 PM on May 24, 2006

One last one. You could remotely telnet to your mac.

Then type the unix command killall

Which would kill (quit) mail.

But totally, the simple solution is to leave the mail on the server.
posted by filmgeek at 7:16 PM on May 24, 2006

One little quibble with the past comment: you would want to SSH in to kill, not telnet. The word "telnet" may have been used in the generic sense, but we don't want to suggest that using telnet is a good idea. Cleartext passwords and such.
posted by dammitjim at 10:48 PM on May 24, 2006

The trouble with leaving mail on the server is that your mailbox fills up. The trouble with deleting mail to stop your mailbox filling up is that then it's only accessible on your POP3 client.

To resolve this dilemma, I use Gmail. I get at my Gmail account with POP3, and I tell Gmail to archive mails that have been accessed with POP3. I also use Gmail's SMTP service for all my outgoing mails.

I'm never going to fill up a 2.7GB-and-growing Gmail mailbox, so my mailbox isn't going to fill up; anything accessed via POP3 neatly removes itself from my web-interface Inbox; and I can still get to every mail I've ever received or sent via All Mail.

Drop me a line via the email in my profile if you need an account invitation.
posted by flabdablet at 11:17 PM on May 24, 2006

Then type the unix command killall

I'd suggest: osascript -e 'tell application "Mail" to quit'

The reason being, this will probably clean up things much more nicely than simply killing the application.
posted by kindall at 12:08 AM on May 25, 2006

kindall, when you sync with the IMAP server (with the right settings) it'll download copies of every email. in many email clients there's an option to ignore server-delete messages and keep the local copy.
posted by devilsbrigade at 12:49 AM on June 4, 2006

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