Apple has long touted the benefits of its ecosystem, and to that end, the company has done a great job. Everything from AirDrop, iCloud to Handoff makes syncing between iOS and macOS a little bit easier. One benefit is the opportunity to use your iPhone as a remote control for Apple TV and Apple Music. Native support exists, but with the release of macOS Catalina, it’s a new world for remote functionality. Let’s take a look at what your iPhone can do as a remote, and how to set it up as a remote.
Why Use the iPhone as a Remote?
Do we need any other reason than it is just cool? That’s a fun reason. The more practical reason is that it makes perfect sense to use the iPhone as a remote so you are not forced to always use the mouse. As many macOS users connect their computers to large monitors, this allows a chance to sit away from the computer and still view media content. In that regard, having the iPhone act as a remote makes complete and total sense. Of course, there are a few other reasons, but that one is likely the most reasonable.
The Native Route
If this was one year ago, the native way of using your iPhone as a remote for macOS would have been completely different. For better or worse, macOS Mojave was the last Mac software release to use the program everyone loves to hate, iTunes. With the launch of macOS Catalina, Apple removed iTunes and replaced it with Apple Music and Apple TV. The good news is that using your iPhone natively as a remote isn’t gone. It just behaves a little differently than before. So how do you do it?
Before jumping into the steps, it’s important that if you wish to go the native route, you should use the same Apple ID on all of your devices. This step matters, as you will need to activate “Home Sharing” and that only works if all of the devices are on the same network and using the same Apple ID. If this is not an issue, then you should be able to set things up to control music, movies and TV shows with your iPhone.
Setting Things Up on the Mac
Unlike previous macOS systems, the Home Sharing feature has been moved to System Preferences. To get there, you need to go to the upper-left corner of your screen and click on the “Apple” logo. Select the “System Preferences” option. When the system preferences menu appears, toward the bottom row of your preferences options is “Sharing.” It resembles a blue folder with a yellow warning symbol logo.
When you open that preference, you are now faced with a series of services you can enable/disable. For our purposes, select “Media Sharing” on the left side and then “Home Sharing.” After clicking on Home Sharing, a menu prompt will open asking you to fill in your Apple ID. It’s critical that the Apple ID you enter here is the same as your Apple ID on your iPhone. Once you have entered that, click on “Turn On Home Sharing.”
Setting Up the iPhone
Apple’s “Remote” app is pretty simplistic, but you are now at the point that you should have downloaded the app to move forward. When you open the app for the first time, click on Settings near the top right. For Music control, go to “Settings -> Music.” To control the music on the computer, the Apple Music app must be open. The same goes for media.
To control any media you have in Apple TV, whether purchased or your own content, head to “Settings -> Accounts -> Home Sharing.” Again, the same rule applies, as the Apple TV app must be open on the computer to work.
It’s Remote Time
Once both of these apps are enabled, you are now free to use the iPhone as a remote control. When you open the app each time, you are presented with a music icon or the TV icon which will take you to either library. From there, you can pause, play, start and select any of your existing content to watch or listen. It’s that simple.
Apple’s Remote app is pretty basic, all things being equal. There are several third-party remote options that enable dramatically more features and services. There are even apps that enable the iPhone screen as a mouse in the place of an actual physical mouse that connects over Bluetooth or USB. Even if it only supports basic services, Apple’s Remote feature is reliable and offers plenty of use cases. Do you use your iPhone as a remote control? Let us know in the comments below.