who watches the watchees?
December 28, 2006 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend easy to install, cross platform monitoring software for Mac OS X - that is, something that would allow a parent, employer or teacher to, from their PC, monitor the screen of a Macintosh? Will remote desktop do this? Is it relatively easy to install?
posted by luriete to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
10.3 and 10.4 have VNC built in- it's under System Preferences: Sharing: Apple Remote desktop.

Configure your VNC client of your choice on your surveillance outpost, point it to the proper machine, authenticate, and monitor.
posted by Steve3 at 12:35 PM on December 28, 2006

Yep, what Steve3 said. You can configure it to not actually take control of the keyboard, and mouse (the default settings), instead, you can set it to just show you what is happening. This would allow you to use your machine for other things without the cursor moving around and alerting anyone to your monitoring.
posted by quin at 12:43 PM on December 28, 2006

previously. This question was answered a day or two ago, and the answer there was VNC as well.

VNC is a remote management tool that runs on all OSes and is free. You need VNC server running on the computer to be monitored, and a VNC client running on the computer you want to use to monitor the computer. You'll need to know the IP addresses of each computer to be monitored.

Also, what exactly will this monitoring be for? If you just want to monitor what the Mac user is accessing, there are special tools that are specialized for this. So otherwise you'll just have to be watching these monitors constantly.

Also, using VNC may get in the way of the user on the Mac -- for sure, if you move the mouse, their mouse will move also. That can be incredibly annoying.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:49 PM on December 28, 2006

I should also add that as someone who used computers from an early age, it's much more important to develop a real level of trust with the student/child in question. If you do, you don't have to worry quite as much about what is on that screen. The child will respect you more and will (hopefully) work to earn that respect.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:51 PM on December 28, 2006

how do i know you're not a stalker? i think there's a moral component here that needs to be addressed before i would even cross the threshhold of helping you.
posted by bruce at 5:41 PM on December 28, 2006

melodrama, that was sarcasm right? Because I use VNC and Remote Desktop all the time. Not to monitor, but to log in to my home computer remotely from work, and vice versa. Hell, several of my machines don't even have monitors because I'll I ever do is log in remotely.

Just because the software can potentially used for something unsavory doesn't mean that the software itself is inherently bad.

And while I don't condone it, nor do I use it on my employees, it is well established that companies can track the usage of their employees computers to make sure that the hardware is not being used inappropriately. This is not a rape/murder/victimize scenario, this is basic corporate security.
posted by quin at 7:17 PM on December 28, 2006

quin, since i don't see a comment from "melodrama" here, i guessin you talkin to me, so i'll answer you in good faith.

first of all, i acknowledge your absolute right as an employer to use these tools on your employees. your time, your boxes, your nickel, no problem.

what struck me about the question was the way the alternatives were presented. an authentic parent, employer or teacher in this context would come right out and say so. the presentation of alternatives a, b and c in this context suggested to me that the actual relationship might be d. i don't know what d is, i have a general aversion to spies, and when i'm navigating in a dense fog of ignorance as to the facts, my natural sympathies rest with the spied upon, not the spies.
posted by bruce at 9:19 PM on December 28, 2006

squinting further at this question through the dense fog i referred to above, i notice that while the roles seem to be deliberately nonspecific, the platforms are very specific. a mac is gonna be monitoring a pc. weigh this specificity against the three proposed roles:

1) the boss is a mac man, but he populated his shop with pc's...why? to make it easier to synch home and shop ops? uhhhh...

2) the class is full of pc's, but teach is on a mac? if teach is at home, the kids are also at home, or somewhere where their privacy should be respected, right?

3) different platforms within the same family (the closest call). parents have so many different ways to monitor and control their kids' internet activities; if they're doing it from their own worksites, i hope their own bosses catch them by using this technology! if they're doing it surreptitiously from another room in their home, you can guess whose side i'm on.

sometimes, the answers (and just the willingness to answer) are more interesting than the question; two things come to mind, the stanley milgram psych experiment where volunteers were directed to administer electric shocks to "volunteers" (the volunteers mostly did so with aplomb) and the borat movie where borat walked into a gun store and asked the guy, what's the best gun to use for shooting jews, and the gun salesman came right back with a recommendation! i'm just a different breed from these folks, and i'm sorry if anyone's offended by this.
posted by bruce at 10:09 PM on December 28, 2006

on further review, pc gonna be monitoring mac, same points apply though. nighty-night!
posted by bruce at 10:18 PM on December 28, 2006

bruce : quin, since i don't see a comment from "melodrama" here, i guessin you talkin to me, so i'll answer you in good faith.

Not at all sir, your comment was perfectly normal and welcome paranoia (not a bad thing). I'm guessing the admins killed the comment that I was referring to; it was someone suggesting that all monitoring software was only used for the purposes of stalking someone to 'rape/murder/victimize' them.

On the other hand, your skepticism was well warranted, I tend to treat AskMe as a clearing house for information. Someone asks, I try to answer in the best technical way I can. I try not to evaluate on moral grounds, I just answer the query put in front of me.

I don't want to deal with those moral conundrums. I have technical knowledge and I'll provide it where I can. I assume that it will be used for good. Because if I doubted or suspected everyone or anyone here, I wouldn't ever answer questions. And I really like to answer.

...Your last answers fit my schema so all I can say is 'well said'


That said: a mac is gonna be monitoring a pc. the choices are this and this.
posted by quin at 11:31 PM on December 28, 2006

Response by poster: sorry, you have it backwards. The PC is going to be monitoring the Mac. Re-reading my question, I think I made that clear.

This is not for me, but for a family member to monitor their child's computer usage. The child has a history of misusing similar resources, and the monitoring will not be secret; the child will know the parent is watching them.

Sorry, I was trying to be general since I know answers here are not solely for the askee but for others in similar circumstances; I always try to be as general as possible for the benefit of others.
posted by luriete at 10:12 AM on December 29, 2006

Sorry luriete, I was quoting someone else and I didn't think to fact check: this is the server for OSX, and this is a client for Windows.
posted by quin at 10:35 AM on December 29, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks Quin!
posted by luriete at 12:42 PM on December 30, 2006

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