In this article you will become aware of some options regarding how you can access your Windows servers by using an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad device.

Let’s face facts: the Apple iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad were not designed for enterprise networks. The devices certainly were not intended to be integrated in Active Directory networks.

Nevertheless, Apple hardware is growing increasingly ubiquitous these days. The bottom line is that many Active Directory administrators carry iPhones instead of Android- or Windows Phone-based mobile phones.

Thus, we encounter the question: what iOS apps exist that can facilitate our management of Active Directory from our iPhones or iPads?

Before we list those apps, we need to understand some relevant Apple terminology. In Apple development nomenclature, an iOS device is a piece of Apple hardware that runs the iOS operating system. Examples of iOS-based devices include the iPhone, the iPod touch, and the iPad.

Furthermore, iOS applications can take one of three distinct forms:

  • iPhone (pretty rare these days)
  • iPad (these apps often have HD attached to their names and are designed to take advantage of the additional screen real estate offered by the iPad)
  • Universal (an app that runs natively on either an iPhone, an iPod touch, or an iPad)

Newcomers to iOS development ask the reasonable question, “How in the world can a Universal app dynamically change its appearance depending upon whether the host hardware is an iPhone or an iPad?” If you are interested, the answer can be found in the article “Creating a Universal App” at the Apple iOS Developer Library.

In this article we will approach our app overview by examining these tools from three different perspectives:

  • VNC, RDP, or SSH remote access clients
  • VM remote access clients
  • Dedicated admin tools

NOTE: All of the following iOS apps presume that your Apple device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the servers in your Active Directory environment.

VNC, RDP, or SSH remote access clients ^

Perhaps the most straightforward method for administering a Windows Server 2008 domain controller is to connect directly to the box by using a remote access protocol such as Virtual Network Computing (VNC), Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), or Secure Shell (SSH).

iPad -Active Directory - iTap RDP client for iPad

iTap RDP client for iPad

  • iTap Mobile RDP (Universal, $11.99): RDP client
  • Jump Desktop (Universal, $14.99): RDP client
  • iRemoteWin (iPad, $1.99): RDP client
  • WinAdmin (Universal, $7.99): RDP client
  • pTerm (Universal, $4.99): SSH and Telnet client
  • iSSH (Univeral, $9.99): SSH and VNC client
  • Screens (Universal, $19.99): VNC client
  • VNC Viewer (Universal, $9.99): VNC client
  • Mocha VNC (Universal, $5.99): VNC client
  • Ignition (Universal, $99.99): Multi-protocol remote access client

VM remote access clients ^

Your Active Directory forest may be virtualized either partially or fully. The good news is that the major virtualization vendors have published iOS apps that facilitate remote connection to those devices and infrastructures.

Dedicated Admin Tools

Now we turn our attention to iOS apps that were designed expressly for performing one or more specific Active Directory and/or server management tasks.

iPad Active Directory - AD Manager Mobile for iPhone

AD Manager Mobile for iPhone

  • AD HelpDesk (Universal, $7.99): Domain user account password reset tool
  • AD Manager Mobile (Universal, $4.99): Provides much of the functionality of Active Directory Users and Computers
  • Smash! User Manager (Universal, Free): Domain user account management
  • PC Monitor (Universal, Free): Hardware/software inventory management

Conclusion ^

Today we presented a summary of the most popular iOS apps for managing Active Directory from your Apple device. Have you used any of these tools to good effect in your environment? Have we missed an essential app? Please let us know in the comments portion of this post.

4 Comments
  1. John 10 years ago

    There is also a free version of AD HelpDesk. AD HelpDesk Lite, has almost all of the capabilities of the paid version, only it does not support the iPad form factor natively.

    I would also note that you can do much more than just reset AD passwords with AD HelpDesk. You can also edit most user attributes including modifying group memberships.

  2. Sam 9 years ago

    Check out "Active Directory Assist" for ios devices on

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/active-directory-assist/id528953910?mt=8

    The app is primarily aimed at Windows System Administrators to help them search and manage Active Directory Users, Computers, Groups and Contacts. It also provides quick reports to find "Locked Accounts", "Soon to expire password" and "Soon to expire accounts".

    The solution is completely agent less, with absolutely no software installation or changes required within the Enterprise Network.

  3. Jake Summers 9 years ago

    Alternatively, I found a solution that allows you to join your iOS device (iPad, iPhone) to Active Directory and from there you can do Group Policy mgmt of iPads and iPhones plus AD-based authentication/SSO from your iOS system. It is called Centrify Express for Mobile, and good news it is a free offering, so AD folks may appreciate this. URL is https://www.centrify.com/mobile/free-mobile-device-security-management.asp. Hope this helps.

  4. josh 9 years ago

    wyse pocket cloud let you rdp into your PC from you Ipad and from there you can control AD better than you can with citrix. It has been the best way I have seen yet. Only because you keep all the functionality of the ADUC. It is a bit slow but not too bad honestly.

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