Remote Desktop Options for OS X

September 7, 2011, By Christian Cawley

What do you do when a friend or relative needs help using their Mac – but you’re not able to talk them through the problem or drop by to give a demonstration?

The sensible answer is to make use of one of the many remote desktop applications (rather than tell your friend to turn their computer off and back on again!) to view their problem from across the Internet.

Remote Desktop Options for OS X

A few years ago this would have sounded like a fantastical notion but in 2011 remote desktop applications are everywhere. Rather than pay over the odds for such an app, however, you should focus on the low-cost alternatives such as the web-based LogMeIn which offers free service for home users wanting to connect to a limited number of devices or even the native OS X tool iChat which features a remote desktop option.

Let’s take a look at these two options, and how they can be used with your Mac.

iChat Rather than Apple Remote Desktop?

Before we do take a look at iChat and LogMeIn, however, a quick work about Apple Remote Desktop, a feature that is clearly the intended utility for remote desktopping in Mac OS X. Although it is a useful option it requires some configuration, something that might not be easily achieved on the remote computer. Unless you think that you can talk your friend or family member through forwarding ports on their router, stick with iChat or LogMeIn!

Remote Desktop with iChat

It may come as some surprise to find that there is a remote desktop option in iChat, but in fairness the Mac OS X designers have probably put it in the right place. From Mac OS X 10.5 it is possible to initiate a screen-sharing session, and this can be done in any direction, enabling easy remote support!

To share a screen in iChat, select the username of your friend and then select Ask to share; alternatively you might prefer to have someone dialing into your computer for support reasons, in which case select Share My Screen.

Various other tools are available when screen saving; to begin with you will have an open voice channel to discuss what you’re doing with the friend or relative, you can easily swap data between devices simply by dragging and you will be able to open folders and create documents as needed. CONTROL+ESCAPE will end the session.

Why Not LogMeIn?

Alternatively you can use the popular remote desktop solution LogMeIn, which you will need your friend or relative to sign up to at Once this has been done, then can then download and install the client application and then share their login details with you. Remind them to change the password after you’re done!

All you need to do then is visit the LogMeIn website, sign in, select the computer that you wish to remote connect to an in a few moments this will be setup, ready for you to resolve the problem!

© 2008-2012 - All rights reserved | Privacy Policy