With all the talk lately of easier file-sharing with cloud services, one of the more useful sharing option I still use is screen-sharing within my local network. This option in OS X Leopard enables me to not just see, but also control, the screen of another computer in my home. Having teenagers, I just can’t beat its usefulness.
To set up the computers so that they can share screens, open up “System Preferences” and find the “Sharing” option in the Internet and Wireless row.
This brings me to a screen listing all the options for sharing. There are some really useful ones on here, such as File Sharing, Printer Sharing, and even DVD or CD Sharing. There’s even a Remote Login so that you can log in to another computer in your network. Yet still, the one I use the most is Screen Sharing.
Clicking on the option for Screen Sharing brings up a dialogue box for “Computer Settings.” If you click this, it brings up two options, “Anyone may request permission to control screen” and “VNC viewers may control screen with password.” I leave both blank, as I don’t want anyone else to somehow happen into my network and be able to view the screens. With neither of these options checked, it forces someone wanting to share my screen into knowing my login information, and I know all the login info to all the computers in my home, so I don’t need that extra help.
Once these options are set up and you open a Finder window, everything available in your network is listed in “Shared.” I not only have my second MacBook that my kids use listed, but I also have my printer. Also listed are all the public folders of the users on that second MacBook. If I highlight that second MacBook and click on “Share Screen,” it takes me to a dialogue box where I input my admin password for that second MacBook, and that signs me into Screen Sharing.
Once Screen Sharing is turned on, it opens up a window that gives me the entire screen of the second MacBook. In the interest of space here, I didn’t include the entire screenshot, but you can see I have two docks in the picture below. That’s because I have the one from my MacBook, and the one from the other. When I accessed that, I saw that it was asking if I wanted to update my software on that second MacBook. I was able to do that remotely. I installed all that software on that second MacBook by controlling the screen on my MacBook.
But still, my most useful application for Screen Sharing is watching what my teenagers are doing. I can log onto their screen, and aside from playing practical jokes and controlling their mouse when they least expect it, I can view what they’re viewing, see who they’re talking to on Facebook, see what sites they’re visiting, etc. I don’t even have to do it that often, as they know I can and will, making them less likely to take that chance.
What Apple needs to do next is make these same type of options avaiable between OS X and iOS. Currently I’m using an iPad as my main working “computer,” but find I still have to reference things on my MacBook, as I did for this article. I can’t share a screen between my iPad and my MacBook, but that seems to be the most logical next step.