As a network technician, I found myself in a unique position when it came to my Mac. How far could I take the task of administering my LAN’s user profiles and machines using my MacBook Pro? Turns out it is possible.

My Mac is on the same network as all the Dells on campus. It’s my job to remotely unlock user accounts, add new computers to the network, and manage the files on the four servers. Here’s what I’ve found:

1. Use OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

I know there are still those out there who love Tiger. Trust me, I’m one of them. But the fact of the matter is that Apple didn’t really incorporate the tools necessary for working on PC networks until OS X 10.5 Leopard. Snow Leopard improved upon those tools, such as notifying me when my network password is about to expire. In general, Snow Leopard is more stable.

2. Download CoRD

CoRD is a free download that will let you open Windows servers on your Mac. What’s great about this program is that it will open the server up in a window on your desktop. No restarting or logging off, or anything like that. Move your mouse around the server window, and you’re controlling the server’s interface. From here, you can easily get in to Active Directory to manage user accounts, or access any of the other tools on the server.


3. Use command+k to access the server folders

Browsing through folders on the server is no problem at all, though you may not see them initially. Open Finder and select Go > Connect to Server (command+k). From there, type in smb://YourServerName.YourDomainName

You’ll need to authenticate with your credentials, but after that you’re good to go.

If there are other Macs on the network, make sure to log on to them as an administrator. In Sharing under System Preferences, make sure to select Remote Management. That way you’ll be able to share the screens of the client Macs after authenticating. It’s not Apple Remote Desktop, but it can at least show you what’s going on with the user.

With the dawning of the Age of Intel, Macs have become better and better with working along side PCs. Being an administrator with a MacBook Pro hasn’t hindered me a bit.

If anything, I have to remind myself that Expose is not an option for me when I do use a PC. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve jammed the cursor into the corner, expecting something to happen.

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