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How to Share Screens Remotely on Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Mac OS X Snow Leopard offers screen sharing, which lets you watch (or even remotely control) the display on another person’s Mac across any broadband Internet or local network connection! Sharing screens is useful if you want to help someone who is having trouble with an application but is not in the same room.

Screen sharing must be turned on for you to send or receive sharing invites. Choose Video→Screen Sharing Enabled. A check mark appears next to the menu item when the feature is enabled.

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If a Buddy invites you to share a screen, you receive a prompt that lets you accept or decline. If you accept the sharing invitation, iChat automatically initiates an audio chat (so that you can gab away to each other while things are happening on-screen). Suddenly, you’re seeing the Desktop and applications that your Buddy is running, and you can both control the cursor and left- or right-click the mouse.

Throughout the screen-sharing session, iChat maintains a semi-opaque panel on your screen that has three buttons:

  • End the Shared Screen Session: Click this button to exit shared screen mode.

  • Switch Desktops: Click this button to swap between your Mac’s screen and the remote Mac’s screen. (Those Mac owners who have enabled Fast User Switching will recognize the cool screen swap animation.)

  • Mute Audio: Click this button to mute the audio during the screen-sharing session.

To invite a Buddy to share your screen, choose Buddies→Share My Screen.

Anyone with shared screen access can perform most of the same actions as you can, just as if that person were sitting in front of your Mac. Granted, most of the truly devastating things would require you to type your admin password, but a malicious individual could still delete files or wreak havoc any number of ways on your system. Be careful with whom you share your screen!

But wait . . . What if you don’t want to control someone else’s Mac? Perhaps you just want to share a document. For example, you could show off some photos or a movie you’ve just finished. That’s the idea behind iChat Theater, where you can share a document or video and hold a conversation while viewing the content! iChat Theater falls in between Screen Sharing and a simple file download.

To select one or more items for your Theater show, choose File→ Share iPhoto with iChat Theater (to share images from your iPhoto library) or File→Share a File with iChat Theater (to share movies and other documents). iChat displays a standard Open dialog, in which you can select one or more items. When you’re ready to begin your Theater presentation, click Share. If you’re using a video camera, your video appears as a thumbnail, while your content gets center stage.

iChat Theater works with anything that can be displayed in Quick Look or located with Spotlight, including slideshows from iPhoto, a Keynote presentation, or a QuickTime movie.

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