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How to control your Mac Mini

I found a great solution as to how to control a MacMini with no keyboard or mouse today.

To review, I have a MacMini fitted, alongside a flatscreen TV, to my bedroom wall as a media center. The great thing about the MacMini is the neat little remote control, and integrated IR receiver – making it just about viable to use as a media center without any other controls. Just a tiny 6-button remote – that’s it!

However – last night, the Mac went into auto-shutdown (something I had set up), and it’s not possible to confirm or disable the dialogue box with the Mac remote. Since there is no keyboard or mouse plugged into my wall-mounted media center, I was stuck. I don’t want to plug in any HID, and I don’t really want to buy a dedicated bluetooth mouse/keyboard, just for the occasional time when I want to control it directly.

Enter the Sony Ericsson K610i – in fact, many SE phones. These have a built-in Bluetooth HID (keyboard/mouse) Profile driver, originally intended for presentations. Since it registers under a standard Bluetooth HID, rather than using PC-side software like many presentation remote-control programs, there are no special drivers needed whatsoever on the Mac; it’s just like registering a keyboard. It’s a standard feature on my phone, so free. And it involves no extra hardware, and I often have my phone by my bedside at night.

The great thing is SE also produce PC software for building your own remote-control profiles – assigning key combinations to the phone keypad. Right now I just use Desktop, which turns the joystick into a mouse. My next step is to create a custom profile to provide Dashboard, Safari, etc. shortcuts. I need never have to find and connect a USB mouse just to press one button again.

BTW – another neat solution is MacOSX Voice Control, to give commands and run programs with no keyboard/mouse. I’ve tried playing with it on the Macbook and found it almost useless, but I’ll try it on the Mini with a small external microphone, and see how it goes.

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Categories: Computing
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