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miniWOL v3 – Compact and easy to use Wake-on-LAN utility

miniWOL v3 – Compact and easy to use Wake-on-LAN utility
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miniWOL is a small and efficient macOS application designed to send Wake-on-LAN (WoL) signals, allowing users to remotely power up their network devices over the local network. Tailored for both home and professional environments, miniWOL provides a reliable solution for managing and controlling networked devices with ease. Well … I guess ChatGPT nailed that one pretty good 😊

Some may already be familiar with miniWOL, as previous versions have been downloaded approximately 50,000 times by the time that I’m releasing this version.

This is now version 3 of miniWOL, which I’m making available only through the Apple App Store as a learning exercise for myself.
Obviously this means that this is a macOS only version, completely fine tuned tuned, modified, and sandboxed, for macOS users, and meeting Apple’s security rules.

As with pervious miniWOL versions, it boasts an intuitive and straightforward interface, making it easy for users of all technical levels, to setup and wake up their network devices with just a few clicks, straight from the menubar of your Mac.

These days where everything has become very expensive, most of us become more and more conscious about the amount of electricity we use. This is where Wake-on-LAN comes in play as quite a few devices that are network connected, can be woken up, or resumed, remotely with the so called “Wake-on-LAN” feature – think of some of the obvious devices like a NAS or server, or printer-servers, but do not forget devices like a regular computer, media players etc.




Content Overview

What is Wake-on-LAN ?

Wake-on-LAN, or WoL, is an Ethernet standard that allows you to “wake up” (or even power up) computers or network devices, and is originally intended for use in a local network. Please be aware that sending a WoL over the Internet typically does not work, and keep in mind that not all devices support Wake-on-LAN.

WoL is probably most commonly used to wake up a servers, just before access to these machines is needed – for example a media server, which can sleep all day long until you want to watch a movie, or a backup NAS that only needs to be awake when doing an actual backup.
There can be several motivations to do this; save on power, save on wear-and-tear of your equipment, keep things cool, etc.

WoL also requires the network card of this device to listen to traffic, even when the device is sleeping, in order to detect a “magic packet” being send to the device. While the NIC (network interface controller) is listening, a lot of traffic will pass that might not even be intended for this network connection, so just listening to network traffic would keep your network device awake even when you don’t want it to be awake.

Issues with devices that do or do not support WoL … 

Not all devices or networks will support Wake-on-LAN, or support it in the same way.
Network devices where Wake-on-LAN may not work (not supported / not implemented):

  • WiFi can support WoL, however most devices do not support WoL over WiF.
  • Some switches may not support WoL and some only support WoL on port 1.
  • 10Gbps SFP+ NICs may not support WoL (eg. Intel NICs)
  • Some cards with multiple ports may support WoL on  only one port
  • Fiber connections may not support WoL
  • WoL over Internet typically does not work, as the infrastructure will filter out the magic packets.
  • Mac laptops quite often display issues when you try to wake them up (see also this forum topic).

Enabling Wake-on-LAN on your Network Device(s)

Before we can wake up a network device with WoL, you will need setup this device to do so.
Quite often you’d need to do some settings in the “BIOS” of your computer, and.or do some settings in the operating system as well.

Certain devices, like most NAS devices, make it a little easier by offering a simple “WoL ON/OFF” function.

Since this will be different for most devices, you can start by consult the manual of your device, or take a peek at my Wake-on-LAN article showing a few common devices and operating systems.

 

Can’t get Wake-on-LAN to wake up your Mac laptop? 

Check out my article (look for example 3) which explains how to login to SSH securely without a password, and wake up a MacBook Pro without even using a Wake-on-LAN application. To combine this with miniWOL, you can create a script, something like this:


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ssh username@ip-address-mac "caffeinate -u -t 1 || exit 1;"

Naturally: replace “username” with the username for your Mac, and “ip-address-mac” with the IP address of your Mac.

Save this script for example as “myscript.sh” and make the script executable (with chmod +x myscript.sh ).

Next add the script to the device definition in miniWOL and check the option “Execute Script after Wake-on-LAN“.
After sending a WoL, this script will connect to your Mac with SSH and use caffeinate to turn the display on.

Don’t forget to enable WoL on your Mac (System Preferences  Energy Saver (or: Battery)  Wake for network access), and don’t forget to enable “Remote Login” (System Preferences Sharing).

Note: if you’re targeting a laptop: your MacBook needs to be powered by a power brick, just running on battery may not work, and the lid may need to be open – see also this forum topic.

Wake-On-LAN local vs over the Internet 

miniWOL, and Wake-on-LAN in general, is intended to be used in a local network. Meaning: wake up a network device in the same network you are in (at home or in the office). To wake up a device at home, over the Internet (ie. you’re in the office or traveling), will require some trickery including, but not limited to, port forwarding. Not every modem/router can even do this. An example can be found here: DD-WRT.

So by default: use miniWOL for devices in your local network and do not expect it to work over the Interner!

For waking up devices over the Internet, you will need to do some extra leg work to get everything configured correctly.

 

miniWOL

The intend of miniWOL is to have a small icon in your Mac’s Menubar, so you’re just a click away from sending a Wake-on-LAN magic packet to a defined server. All this without dealing with all the in-depth details. So an easy few clicks and you should be up and running.

Download from the App Store

You can download miniWOL at the Apple App Store.

Download from the Apple App Store

 

Note that this is the first time that I’m providing an application through the Apple App Store, and not as a download from Tweaking4All.

The main reason for this is that this is an exercise for myself to see how complicated it is to place a Lazarus Pascal developed applications in the Apple App Store, and what the implications are for doing so. After all, Apple does have some requirements when it comes to safety, including but not limited to signing applications, setting etitlements, sandboxing etc.

An additional reason is to see if this would help me out with my website expenses, since sending me a cup of coffee does not seem to work … at all.
Advertisements are kind-a disgusting if you ask me, and have reached an all-time low as well, and referrals isn’t doing much either.

Note that I am super grateful for the few folks who did sent me a cup of coffee

As a little bonus for the small fee though; the often requested “auto update” is now fully automated (if you were to choose so) as well through the Apple App Store.

Versions

3.0.0 – Initial Apple App Store release

Features

miniWOL, as compact as it is, still packs a few neat features/options:

  1. Automatically start miniWOL when you login to your Mac
  2. At miniWOL startup, send WoL packets to devices that you configured as such
  3. When your Mac resumes from sleep, send WoL to the devices you’ve set to do so
  4. Execute a script or application once a network device successfully woke up through a WoL message
  5. Quit miniWOL right away after sending WoL to devices at startup (and running scripts or applications)
  6. Help find the MAC address of a network device based on its IP address, automatically or manually
  7. Test your WoL configuration before using it
  8. Do a PING to one of your devices to make sure the entered IP address can be reached
  9. Test a script before using it
  10. Use the default view with just a few options, or the more advanced view with more options

 

Getting Started

Quick Start for the impatient (like myself)

Adding a network device usually starts with at least these steps:

  1. click the Add button,
  2. enter the “Menu label” you’d like to see in the drop down menu,
  3. Click the Known IPs button, and select the IP address of your device (or enter it manually).

 

Note:
The MAC address will be auto detected if you have not changed the default settings. This works when the IP address is in the so called ARP cache of your Mac – typically a device in your local network, that is powered on, and connected to the network.

Brief tour with some screenshots

miniWOL - Dropdown menu

miniWOL – Dropdown menu

miniWOL - Standard view

miniWOL – Standard view

miniWOL - Advanced Options

miniWOL – Advanced Options

miniWOL - Indicators

miniWOL – Indicators

 

Indicators miniWOL
Indicator What does it indicate?
miniwol3 - Device is Enabled This Network Device is enabled
miniwol3 - Device is Disabled This Network Device is disabled
miniwol3 - WoL after login Send WoL when miniWOL starts
(for example when your Mac starts)
miniwol3 - WoL after sleep Send WoL when your Mac wakes up
(Your Mac resumes from sleep)
miniwol3 - Script after WoL Run application of script after WoL
miniwol3 - Active WoL task running A WoL task is running for this device
(can include waiting for the device to be awake)

 

Configuration

After having installed miniWOL through the Apple App Store, it is time to configure one or more network devices.

Note that miniWOL will never appear in the Dock – only in the menubar.

Add a Device

Adding a network device usually starts with at least these steps:

  1. click the Add button,
  2. enter the “Menu label” you’d like to see in the drop down menu,
  3. entering the “IP address” manually or with the Known IPs button, and
  4. entering the “MAC address” manually or do an attempt to detect with the Detect from IP button.

 

Note that Known IPs, Detect from IP and “Try auto detect MAC address” (advanced option, which is enabled by default) depend on information miniWOL found in the so called ARP cache of your Mac.

This does works quite often very well, but it is not guaranteed that miniWOL will find every IP address or MAC address in your network.
Obviously, the targeted device needs to be powered on, and connected to the network.
Even then your Mac may not know about it and a quick Test Ping may help (ping only works if you entered an IP address).

Automatically send WoL packets

Now in the default window (not the advanced view) you can see two additional options you can check:

  • Automatically send WoL when miniWOL starts

As you already guessed, this will send a WoL magic packet to this device when you start miniWOL. This will of course also work when miniWOL starts automatically when you Mac starts.

  • Automatically send WoL when Mac Resumes

This option, will automatically send a WoL magic packet to this device when your Mac wakes up or Resumes from sleep (assuming you have miniWOL running of course).

Advanced options

Next to the Quit button, you will see a checkbox where you can enable or disable “Show advanced options“.

Most user may not have a much use for the advanced options, or will set it only once, and hiding the advanced options will result in a much calmer window to look at.
Keep in mind though that advanced options remain active/functioning, even when hidden.

Network Device specific Advanced Options

The only network device specific advanced option is the option to “Execute script after WoL” which allows a script or applications to be executed after a network device woke up based on a WoL packet being sent by miniWOL.

This is how this works:

  1. miniWOL send a WoL magic packet to the device
  2. miniWOL will wait for a bit, max 30 seconds, to see if the device did wake up, based on pinging the device
  3. If the device is online, then  miniWOL will wait a number of seconds (“Execution delay“) to run the script or application.

Keep in mind that usually, a network device has an active network connection reasonably quick after having received a WoL packet.
However, the operating system of that device may need more time to become responsive.

As an example:
My NAS replies to a ping in a matter of seconds after waking up from sleep, and about 10 seconds more when powering on.
The OS however takes a minutes or so when waking up from sleep, and when powering on it even takes several minutes.

So this can either be a shell (Terminal) script, or a regular application, which you can select with the Select Script button.

The Test Script button allows you to test the script or application, which I strongly do recommend you do.
macOS may not permit all possible applications  or scripts to run due to sandbox and/or security limitations.

General Advanced Options

Advanced options does reveal a few advanced settings that affect miniWOL as a whole:

  • Try auto detect MAC address“, detect MAC address when an IP has been entered
  • Delete warnings“, show warnings when deleting device from the list
  • Show use hints“, show those little balloons explaining what certain items do
  • Notifications“, which makes miniWOL show notifications

Manage Devices

In the list of Network Devices (on the right), you can manage your device.
Either Add, Sort, Move them up   or down  , Delete a selected device or Clear the entire list.

Note that instead of removing a device, you can also simply disable them.
This way you have the info handy in case you need it in the future.

A device can be enabled/disabled using the toggle button, to the left of the device name in the list of Network Devices, or with the checkbox “Enabled” next to the Menu Label in the device details. A disabled device will be ignored in any automatic features, and will not be shown in the menu.

Copy Configuration files to other computers

To copy your settings from one Mac to another, we have to keep in mind that the application is distributed through the Apple App Store, and that the application is sandboxed. This means that the settings file can be found in a somewhat awkward location:


~/Library/Containers/com.Tweaking4All.miniWOL/Data/Library/Preferences/com.tweaking4all.miniWOL.ini

This location will have been created after you ran miniWOL at least one time on the Mac you’re looking at. So make sure to run miniWOL first.
Close the application on both computers and copy this file.
Make sure miniWOL is not running when copying the ini file.

Uninstalling miniWOL

Since this is an Apple App Store application without any weird things, you can simply drag miniWOL to the trashcan.

If you want to make sure everything has been removed, make sure to see if this directory i gone as well:


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~/Library/Containers/com.Tweaking4All.miniWOL

 

 

 

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Comments


There are 2 comments. You can read them below.
You can post your own comments by using the form below, or reply to existing comments by using the "Reply" button.

  • Jul 5, 2024 - 2:37 AM - John Comment Link

    Hans, you’ve done it again!

    Initially I was not too happy reading the news that I had to pay for it but then I realized that its just 2 bucks and for that I get a secure app that auto updates.

    Thank you again.

    Reply

    John

    • Jul 5, 2024 - 4:27 AM - Hans - Author: Comment Link

      Thanks John – always nice to see your appreciation!  

      Enjoy, and feel free to post comments (bugs, feature requests, etc).

      Reply

      Hans



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