The Messages app is pretty sweet. It lets you send iMessages and SMS messages from a Mac, it lets you share your location, it even has those cool Animoji things that everybody used for about a day and a half when iPhone X was first released. But did you know you can use it for remote access? It’s one of the most powerful troubleshooting tools in your arsenal, and we’re going to show you how to use it.
In order to share screens with a Mac, you first have to be using a Mac yourself. That makes sense, considering the whole process is done through the Mac-only Messages application. So go ahead and open that app up.
- First, select the person you want to share with in the Messages sidebar, then click Details. If the person isn’t in the sidebar, send them a message first.
- Click the Screen Share button , then do one of the following.
- To share your screen, choose “Invite to share my screen.”
- To view your the other person’s screen: Choose “Ask to share screen.”
When the request is accepted, the Screen Sharing app will automatically open. To stop screen sharing, do one of the following:
- If you’re sharing your screen: Click in the menu bar, then choose End Screen Sharing. (If you’re not ready to stop yet, choose Pause Screen Sharing; choose it again to resume sharing.)
- If you’re viewing someone else’s screen: Choose Screen Sharing > Quit, or click the red close button in the screen-sharing window.
Just sharing a screen not enough? If you need to take control of another computer, that’s just as simple! When the initial screen sharing request comes in, the recipient is prompted to allow either observation or control. Switch the selection to control, and the other party can now control the computer as if it were their own.
It works in reverse, as well. If the screen sharing initiator would like to provide access to the other person, just click in the menu bar, then choose “Allow [name] to control my screen” so there’s a checkmark next to it. To take back control of your screen—but still let the other person view it—click in the menu bar, then choose “Allow [name] to control my screen” to remove the checkmark.
Don’t want someone to send you screen-sharing invitations? When you receive an invitation from them, hold the pointer over the Decline button, click , then click Block. And this goes without saying, but be sure to only ever give screen sharing (and particularly screen control) permissions to those you trust.
Now you know how to perform remote access troubleshooting on a Mac without the need to download any third-party software whatsoever. But wait, there’s more! Need to diagnose an issue on an iOS device? No problem! With some help from everybody’s friend, QuickTime, that’s possible as well.
For starters, have the problematic iOS device connected to the Mac via a Lightning-to-USB cable. Then open up QuickTime Player on the Mac. Don’t worry, it’s preinstalled as well. From the menu bar, choose File>New Movie Recording.
In the resulting window, click the arrow next to the record button and select the iOS device from the dropdown menu.
A screen recording of the connected iOS device will appear on the Mac display, and you can begin troubleshooting via dictated steps to the person handling the device.
Now the next time your Mac-illiterate friend (or, let’s be honest – parent) needs help figuring out iTunes, you can just tell them “here, let me do it myself” even if you’re halfway across the world! Isn’t technology great?