ChronoAgent synchronise your Mac and/or access files remotely with your iPad/iPhone

When I reviewed ChronoSync earlier this year, I saw another app on the Econ Technologies website that puzzled me. It’s a small app – more a Preference panel than an app – that allows you to remotely access a Mac from anywhere in the world. It’s quite powerful, secure (encrypted traffic) and is a boon if you regularly work on your iPad even when you’ near the Mac.

ChronoAgent is an invisible application that runs in the background on a Mac and provides ChronoSync or InterConneX a direct connection to a remote Mac. That’s the main and major reason for ChronoAgent’s existence. There’s more to ChronoAgent than meets the eye, though. For starters, it provides a much more secure, reliable and indeed faster connection than standard file sharing. And if you’re using ChronoSync to synchronise files between two machines, ChronoAgent is far better at keeping a connection alive than standard macOS remote file sharing.

When you install ChronoAgent, you’ll get a new entry in the System Preferences. The new module comes with a number of parameters you can set, including one that manages security and WAN access (Internet!). Without any configuration, ChronoAgent worked on my local network of two Macs. A bit tweaking and finding out how to allow access over the Internet lets you access your ChronoAgent Mac from anywhere else in the world.

The reason why you would want to access a Mac from wherever you are is obvious, but even if you only use it within the LAN, ChronoAgent allows you wo use any other Mac on your network that is running ChronoSync to have full access to the ChronoAgent Mac’s file system. This means you can use ChronoSync to synchronise files with every ChronoAgent Mac or backup to/from any ChronoAgent Mac. Not having the agent on your computer means you can only synchronise/backup when other Macs’ shared disk/folders are mounted.

In addition to it providing a direct, unrestricted connection, ChronoAgent is safer, faster, and more reliable than macOS’s built-in file sharing. I didn’t try it, but Econ Technologies claims you can even create bootable backups over a network to another Mac.

But now for the even better part. ChronoAgent allows any iOS device on your network to have full access to the ChronoAgent Mac’s file system. It allows you to access files on your Mac from an iDevice. Should I repeat that? When I saw my iMac’s Home directory appear within seconds after loading the InterConnex app you need on the iOS device, I was almost jumping up and down across my room.

However, I quickly felt disappointment when I got the distinct feeling this was just a glorified file browser. That feeling even more quickly disappeared when I discovered that I could send my iMac’s files to whatever app is on my iPad through the standard iOS Share extension.

It’s almost like magic: InterConneX app on your iOS device ChronoAgent on your Mac = using your Mac files with your iOS device, not on your iOS device as with Handoff and what else have you got. And of course, you can repeat this trick, even if you’re away from home. It simply is a direct connection with no cloud required.

In fact, the only time you will want to copy those files to your iOS device is when you know you won’t have access to the Internet, e.g. when you’re dead slow moving towards the light in a crippled Chunnel at 30km/hour and WiFi connections are as dead as a doornail.

For those occasions, the InterConneX browser gives you the chance to copy a file to your iPad/iPhone and work locally on the iOS device. In fact, if you want to, you can perform all kinds of file management tasks with your iOS thingy on the Mac.

For its many tricks and the way it has been implemented and made as secure as possible, ChronoAgent deserves an award. The only thing that I personally was a bit less enthusiastic about was that the connection does not automatically synchronise the document you’re working on. You need to go back and forth between the InterConneX browser and the app you use to edit the document – that is on your Mac – to refresh the Mac’s version. But that is a small sacrifice for otherwise great functionality in my opinion.

ChronoAgent is only 14.99 USD, while InterConneX is a free download.