MacMost Now 77: Leopard Screen Sharing

Gary Rosenzweig takes a look at screen sharing in Leopard: how to set it up and some uses.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary, with another intentionally unscripted episode of MacMost now. Today let's take a look at one of the coolest features in Leopard-- screen sharing. So screen sharing is the ability of one Mac to control another Mac from across the internet. And it does this by putting the screen of the second Mac in a window on your computer and you can go ahead and click on icons and type on your keyboard and do all sorts of things. Let's take a look at how to set it up and what you can do with it.
Okay so the first step of the process is setting up screen sharing on the computer that you're going to be controlling. So you do this by going to the system preferences on that machine, going into the sharing options and turning on screen sharing. Now in the screen sharing options here, you can see a couple different things, one is 'allow all users', which means all the users that are set up on that machine. You can also add specific users, so you can create a new user and add them just for the purpose of screen sharing. You can also go ahead and set some things up, you can ask for anyone who has permission to control the screen or the viewer may control the screen with a special password. For most usage you're not even going to want to worry about these, you're just going to want to let the person controlling the machine control everything about the machine. Another thing you're going to want to note is the IP address of the machine you're going to control. Now of course this is a local IP address it's just valid within the network. If there's a static IP address that you have outside the network it will show that here. And that'll be very important for you take control of the other machine. Now this is the trickiest part of the whole thing, knowing the IP address of the other machine. Now there's actually two ways to get around it if you do not have a static IP address. One is to use port forwarding in your router to forward port 5900 to the Mac in question. So in other words if you have a static IP address but then your router and you're cable modem or dsl modem gives you a local IP address then you just use port forwarding to do that. And it varies in terms of router to router you have to check your documentation. And the easier way to do that is to use iChat, iChat, if you can establish an ichat between two Macs and they're both using leopard you can actually start screen sharing between the two Macs using ichat and it actually figures it all out for you. But if you just want to avoid iChat and just go directly to the other machine, it helps to use port forwarding, or to have a static IP address. One way to find out your IP address is to use a webpage that tells you your IP address. For instance, we've got one at MacMost, or you can go into your network settings and get the static IP address. Once you have an IP address you're ready to go. Let's take a look at what you do next.
Okay so in the other machine if you're not doing this with iChat all you need to do is connect (command k) or in finder 'go' and 'connect to server'. Then you type in 'vnc://' and the IP address of the server. In this case it's a local IP address, I'm connecting between two machines in the same office. And then you hit 'connect' what'll happen next is you'll get a connection window. And this window asks you to type your name and password. Now you'll need to type the nape and password that's accepted by that machine. So you can see here I've got the window inside of my Macintosh desktop and this is showing what's happening on the other computer, Even has the dock at the bottom of it as well. There I go. So now I can control this computer completely, open up files do whatever I need to do. Even go into system preferences and change things. It's very powerful so you want to be careful that somebody that you don't want gets your password and try to do this. But this is great for a lot of different things.
So here are three examples of how you could use this. Suppose you have a friend or relative that's always asking you for computer advice and you're always on the phone with them walking them through step by step how to do something. Well, instead you can actually do screen sharing and actually do it for them and show them at the same time. Another thing you can do is if you have a computer at home or at work and you're in the opposite place you can go ahead and control that other machine using screen sharing. You don't have to worry about setting up services like file sharing and things like that in advance, and having them not work quite right when you get to the other location. Just set up screen sharing, when you get to the other location you can turn screen sharing on and control the other computer that way. And another thing you can do is use this for security. Since screen sharing is completely secure, you can go ahead and log into your work machine while on the road and access some sensitive files that way, instead of doing something less secure like accessing those files directly. So it can come in handy for those sorts of things. And there's dozens of other uses as well. So give screen sharing a try and see if it's useful for you. It certainly is for me. Until next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost now.

Comments: 4 Responses to “MacMost Now 77: Leopard Screen Sharing”

    Jamie
    9/27/09 @ 12:47 pm

    HI, you seem to look like you know what you are doing, however, even after i enabled screen sharing in my system preferences i am unable to screen share, i can get the screen share to send, even to accept, however the connection only lasts for a min at most and i never actually am able to see my friends screen. Can you help?

      9/28/09 @ 9:26 am

      So it works, but cuts off after a minute? I’d suspect the network — could be your router, modem (DSL, Cable, whatever) your ISP, your friends’ modem, their router. That’s where I would think the problem would lie. If it was a Mac problem, you’d never connect in the first place. Unfortunately, if that is the problem it might be difficult or impossible to fix. The connection between the two of your is just not robust enough to support a direct connection.

    Kris Shacklette
    9/29/09 @ 11:30 am

    I have and Imac with snow Leopard, time machine and apple TV. Is there any way to set up screen sharing between my Imac and my Apple TV. I would love to play video from other places on my computer and show them on my TV.

      9/29/09 @ 11:40 am

      Screen sharing would be between two Macs, it wouldn’t make sense for an AppleTV. But you can certainly turn on iTunes sharing on your iMac and then play videos on your Apple TV that are in your iTunes library on your Mac — provided they are in a format that the AppleTV uses.

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