ShareTool full review

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to access data and media hosted on a machine that I’m not near - I use Dropbox, LogMeIn, Timbuktu Pro, and Back to My Mac. But now I must add one more tool to my arsenal: Yazsoft’s ShareTool.

ShareTool lets you securely share, over the Internet, all the services on a particular computer, as well as all the services that computer can reach on its local network.

To make this trick work, Yazsoft relies on - and extends—Bonjour, Apple’s protocol for “advertising” a device’s services over a local network. Such services include OS X’s own printing, screen sharing, iTunes Sharing, and iPhoto Sharing, as well as third-party services from sources as varied as Skype and BusyCal - if software advertises its services using Bonjour, ShareTool can make them available over the Internet.

(More accurately, ShareTool makes the computer attempting to access content and services appear as if it’s actually on the same local network with the computer providing the content and services.)

You need at least two copies of ShareTool: one installed on the computer providing access to services and local resources, and one copy on each remote computer from which you want to access those services and resources.

On the computer sharing resources, you launch ShareTool and click the Share button. ShareTool automatically opens a port - a kind of individually numbered door - attached to the router’s IP address to allow outside access. You can choose to limit which services to offer, or to offer up everything.

You can limit which Bonjour services are shared.

(Like other remote-access services, including Back to My Mac, your router must have a publicly reachable IP address. Ideally, it will also use NAT-PMP or UPnP to open up access to the outside world, although you can manually configure access using instructions in ShareTool’s manual and on the Yazsoft Website. For more about NAT-PMP and UPnP, see Troubleshooting Back to My Mac.)

ShareTool on the sharing computer displays the router’s publicly reachable IP address and the ShareTool port. You can click a button to create an email message with the connection details, or configure ShareTool to email you automatically every time settings change, including whenever sharing is enabled.

If you’d prefer a hostname rather than an IP address, an option in ShareTool lets you enable dynamic DNS via one of three major DDNS services; ShareTool will automatically pair your desired hostname - for example, - with the router’s IP address.

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