1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

How to Use iChat to Share Your Mac's Screen

Share Your Mac Desktop With a Friend Using iChat

By

iChat Screen Sharing - How to Use iChat to Share Your Mac's Screen

Select Buddies, Share My Screen With (your buddy's name). Or select Buddies, Ask to Share (your buddy's name) Screen.

iChat Screen Sharing - How to Use iChat to Share Your Mac's Screen

A request will be sent to your buddy asking for permission to share his or her screen.

iChat Screen Sharing - How to Use iChat to Share Your Mac's Screen

If they accept the request, your desktop will shrink to a thumbnail view, and your buddy's desktop will open in a large central window.

iChat, Apple's instant messaging client, has a unique feature that allows you to share your Mac desktop with an iChat buddy. iChat screen sharing lets you show off your desktop or ask a buddy for help with a problem. It also allows you to take control of a buddy's desktop to help him or her out with a problem.

This co-operative screen sharing is a great way to troubleshoot issues with a friend. It also provides a unique way for you to teach others how to use a Mac application. When you're sharing someone's screen, it's just like you're sitting down at his or her computer. You can take control and work with files, folders, and applications, anything that is available on the shared Mac's system. You can also allow someone to share your screen.

Before you can ask someone to share your Mac's screen, you must first set up Mac screen sharing. The process is pretty straightforward; you can find instructions here:

Mac Screen Sharing - Share Your Mac's Screen on Your Network

Once you have screen sharing enabled, you can use iChat to allow others to view your Mac, or to view someone else's Mac.

Why Use iChat For Screen Sharing?

iChat doesn't actually perform the screen sharing; instead, the process uses the built-in VNC (Virtual Network Computing) clients and servers in your Mac. So, why use iChat to initiate the screen sharing?

By using iChat, you can share your Mac's screen over the Internet. Even better, you don't have to configure port forwarding, firewalls, or your router. If you can use iChat with your remote buddy, then screen sharing should work (assuming there's a fast enough network connection between the two of you).

iChat-based screen sharing can't be easily used for remote access to your own Mac, however. iChat screen sharing assumes that there's someone present at both machines to initiate and accept the screen sharing process. If you attempt to use iChat to log onto your Mac while you're on the road, there wouldn't be anyone at your Mac to accept the request to connect. So, save iChat for screen sharing between you and another individual; there are other screen sharing methods you can use when you want to remotely connect to your own Mac.

Share your Mac's Screen With an iChat Buddy

  1. If you haven't already done so, launch iChat.

  2. In the iChat list window, select one of your buddies. You don't need to have a chat in progress, but the buddy must be online and you must select him or her in the iChat list window.

  3. Select Buddies, Share My Screen With (your buddy's name).

  4. A screen sharing status window will open on your Mac, saying "Waiting for response from (your buddy)."

  5. Once your buddy accepts the request to share your screen, you will see a large banner on your desktop that says "Screen Sharing with (buddy's name)." After a few seconds, the banner will disappear, as your friend starts viewing your desktop remotely.

  6. Once someone starts sharing your desktop, they have the same access rights as you do. They can copy, move, and delete files, launch or quit applications, and change system preferences. You should only share your screen with someone you trust.

  7. To end screen sharing, select Buddies, End Screen Sharing.

View a Buddy's Screen Using iChat

  1. If you haven't already done so, launch iChat.

  2. In the iChat list window, select one of your buddies. You don't need to have a chat in progress, but the buddy must be online and you must select him or her in the iChat list window.

  3. Select Buddies, Ask to Share (your buddy's name) Screen.

  4. A request will be sent to your buddy asking for permission to share his or her screen.

  5. If they accept the request, your desktop will shrink to a thumbnail view, and your buddy's desktop will open in a large central window.

  6. You can work in your buddy's desktop just like it was your own Mac. Your buddy will see everything you do, including seeing the mouse moving around their screen. Likewise, you will see anything your buddy does; you can even get in a tug of war over the shared mouse pointer.

  7. You can switch between the two desktops, your buddy's and your own, by clicking in the window for whichever desktop you wish to work in. You can also drag and drop files between the two desktops.

  8. You can quit viewing your buddy's desktop by switching to your own desktop, then selecting Buddies, End Screen Sharing. You can also just click the close button on the thumbnail view of your buddy's desktop.
  1. About.com
  2. Technology
  3. Macs
  4. Using Your Mac
  5. Fantastic Tips and Fun-Filled Tricks
  6. How to Use iChat to Share Your Mac's Screen

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.