Keyboards & Mice
How you control your Mac mini depends largely on the scope of what you will be doing, who will be using the computer and personal aesthetics. Since ‘couch computing’ has become more previlant over the last few years there are numerous devices with exactly that in mind. Because of the wide variety of solutions available, there is a good chance that you may already have everything you need to control your Mac from afar. Then again, if you really want to add some polish to your Media Center setup, there are products that are available to do that as well. Below are some tried and true methods of controlling your Media Center that we highly recommend. If you have a keyboard that you think is worth adding to the list, let us know!
Logitech diNovo Mini
To me, this is the best keyboard and mouse combination for the simple fact that it looks like neither and does the job of both incredibly well. Coming in at slightly larger than an iPhone, this Bluetooth device features a reasonably full keyboard as well as a trackpad that works very well with just your thumb. Best of all, it’s clamshell design means that when it isn’t in use it is unobtrusive and doesn’t scream “there is a computer somewhere in the room!” It also features two large ‘page up’ & ‘page down’ buttons which are useful when browsing the web. The battery life (which is rechargable) is outstanding, and frequently lasts for days without a recharge (and I use it constantly).
The small downside is that it was designed for PC users, right down to the Windows button on the bottom right of the device. Don’t get confused, it works perfectly out of the box, but if it were a Mac keyboard it would look slightly different. I have gone ahead and actually designed a keymap ‘cheat sheet’ of all the Mac specific keys that are switched around (click the download button below). Just trust me, after a day or so of playing with it you’ll be a pro.
Apple Bluetooth Keyboard & Mouse Combo
If you are going through all the trouble of making your Mac the hub of all your media, it only makes sense that you would want to continue that theme with the Apple bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Since you aren’t going to be calculating your taxes on your television (or are you?) I suggest you go with the ‘short’ keyboard which lacks the number pad. I have it and trust me, you won’t miss it. Plus it makes everything that much smaller. You will have to use your leg or couch cushion as a mouse pad, but the mouse performs so well that it really isn’t a problem.
Screen Sharing, Using another Mac
Built into OSX is the ability to take control of any other Apple Computer on your network that has been enabled to do so. While it might seem slightly extravagant to use one computer to control another, it actually has serious benefits. Not to mention that if you already have a extra computer floating around it is essentially free and works amazingly well!
One of the main reasons why Screen Sharing works well is because it is as if you are working on the very computer that you are controlling. The screen is in front of you and you have a full keyboard & trackpad (or mouse)… what else could you want! Also, assuming your Media Center computer is in Living Room, you could access it and move files around without having to physically be in the same room. Follow the two steps below and you will be in business!
How to Enable Screen Sharing on your Media Center Computer:
1. On your Media Center Computer, go to the Apple Menu and select System Preferences.
2. Select ‘Sharing’ from the ‘Internet & Wireless’ section.
3. Click the checkbox for ‘Screen Sharing’ so that it is ON.
How to Access your Media Center Computer from Another Computer:
1. Make sure that you are on the same Wi-Fi network as the Media Center Computer.
2. While in the ‘Finder,’ click the ‘Go’ menu and then select ‘Computer.’ A window should opened up.
3. On the left side of that window in the side bar under ‘Shared,’ you should see your Media Center Computer.
4. Select your computer (single click). On the right side of the window you should see a ‘Share Screen’ button.
5. Click the ‘Share Screen’ button and be prepared to enter the Login/Password for the Media Center Computer.
6. That should be it!