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With a handy network feature Built into OS X and supported by most modern Macs, you can remotely wake a Mac from sleep with an iPhone (or iPod touch, iPad and Android too). This is done using something called Wake On LAN (WOL), and it’s easy to set up up in Mac OS X and use from a smartphone using a free app. The result is actually the opposite of remote sleeping tricks we’ve covered it before, and instead of putting a remote machine to sleep, you can instead wake it up remotely so the Mac is ready for general network access or just faster use. Let’s move on how to set this up up.
First set Up the Mac for Wake On LAN support
Enabling Wake On LAN support on supported Macs is easy:
- Make sure the Mac is connected to a network
- Open System Preferences from the Apple menu and go to the “Energy Saver” control panel
- Go to the “Power Adapter” tab and check the box for “Wake for Wi-Fi network access” (can be “Wake for network access” if the device has multiple network options) – this allows Wake On LAN in OS X
- Now go back to the primary System Preferences window and choose ‘Network’
- Select ‘Wi-Fi’ from the sidebar and note the machine’s IP address on the right
If you don’t see the ‘Wake up for network access’ option in the Energy Saver control panel, your Mac probably supports the feature.
It is also possible to get the IP address of the Mac from the Sharing Control Panel or the command line, you will need this to match the ID of the respective Mac during setup up WOL from iOS in an instant.
Second, configure the iPhone app to wake up the Mac
Now you’ll want to preconfigure the iOS app (or Android app, more on that below) to have the Mac’s network information handy for remote waking trick to be used:
- Download an iOS app with WOL (Wake On LAN) support – Fing is multi-functional and free, that’s what we’ll cover here (we like it for other uses too), but Mocha WOL is also free and does the job, or you can use a paid app like NetStatus
- Connect to the same Wi-Fi network as the Mac, then run Fing and tap Refresh button to scan the network and locate the Mac you want to wake up from sleep up
- Select the Mac based on its IP address and give it a name, such as “Wake On LAN.” Home”
- Scroll down and tap “Wake On Lan” (yes, do this even if the Mac isn’t sleeping yet) – now the Mac should be saved in the list based on the hardware MAC address, even if the IP address changes
You should be ready to go now, so let’s test it and make sure everything works.
Wake up the Sleeping Mac with WOL from iPhone
With everything configured, it’s easy to run a quick test to confirm that WOL is working:
- On the Mac, open the Apple menu and choose “Sleep” as usual, give the machine a minute or so to make sure it actually sleeps, or watch the pulsing indicator light if the Mac has one
- Now open the Fing app on the iPhone, find the “Wake On LAN Home(Or whatever you call it) machine you configured in the second set of steps, and choose “Wake On Lan” again – this time it will wake the sleeping Mac up
This is easiest to test if you have another machine or device that you can ping on to detect the WOL Mac has been woken up up via network access, but it is not necessary. This is because using the WOL protocol to wake a Mac from sleep in this manner does not necessarily wake the devices screen with the default locked login screen that greets a Mac user when they are on a sleeping Macs spacebar. Instead, the screen usually stays black, but the hardware is awake and active, able to receive network connections, pings, and anything else you want to do with the machine.
Now that it is configured and confirmed to work, you can wake up remotely up the sleeping Mac with just the Fing app on the iPhone, as long as you’re on the same Wi-Fi network. This is great for situations such as arriving on home your Mac can be awake and waiting for you when you walk in the door, or to wake up up a remote computer for an SSH connection, or to wake up up your work computer when you enter the office door or, assuming Wi-Fi goes far enough, when you are in the parking lot.
Troubleshooting iOS to OS X Wake On LAN
If you have problems setting this up up or to make it work, you can try a few different things:
- Double check if the Mac and version of OS X support Wake On LAN and if it is enabled (older machines and versions not)
- Make sure the iPhone (or other iOS device) is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the Mac
- Verify that the IP addresses are correct, and more importantly, that the correct MAC hardware address is being detected and used
- Consider setting a static IP address on the Mac instead of using any DHCP assigned IP address
- Try another app on the iOS side: if you were using Fing and it didn’t work then try Mocha WOL … if you don’t mind paying for the app you can also use NetStatus which allows you to hardware for WOL add based on MAC address instead of just IP address
- Make sure there are no network IP conflicts
You may also want to go through the setup process again and make sure you don’t miss any steps.
Can you use WOL from an Android smartphone to wake up a Mac or PC?
Yes, Android phones can also wake up Macs (or Windows PCs) using the same Wake On LAN protocol, so if you don’t have an iPhone, don’t worry. The initial setup on the OS X side is the same, but of course you’ll need to use an Android app to wake up the Mac and complete the second set of steps. The Fing app is actually also available for free to Android users, downloadable from the Google Play Store, which would make the installation almost identical to the steps above, or you can use something called Mafro WakeOnLan, and it’s free too using a slightly different interface.
And with the optional setting available through the NetStatus app, you can use Wake On LAN over the wider internet, meaning you don’t have to be on the same Wi-Fi network for it to work beyond the initial setup. This is done by configuring the router’s IP address and an open port that forwards to the Mac with WOL support – this too is optional, and other free WOL apps may support the feature also, but you should check it yourself. Since this sometimes requires router configuration, it really is beyond the scope of this article.
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