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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: Screen share with anybody via Apple ID

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Remote troubleshooting in this day and age is all the more important, but it can definitely be tricky at times. The other day I learned a handy tip that might save you some grief: you can request to share the screen of anybody whose Apple ID you know.

Messages on the Mac builds in screen sharing support.

Now, yes, it’s possible to request screen sharing via Messages on the Mac (which I always forget, but Allison Sheridan kindly reminded me on our most recent episode of Clockwise), by clicking on the Details link and clicking the screen share button to the left of the FaceTime button.

However, if you launch macOS’s hidden Screen Sharing app1—which you can do via Spotlight by entering “Screen Sharing”—you’ll be prompted to either enter a computer hostname or an Apple ID. Type in the Apple ID of your friend or family member, and it will issue a screen sharing request directly to them, without requiring you to venture into Messages.

Screen Sharing on the Mac
You can launch the hidden Screen Sharing app via Spotlight.

This can be pretty useful when, say, the person whose screen you want to access doesn’t use Messages, or when you’re on the phone with someone and don’t want to start an iMessage conversation with them just to get access to screen sharing.2

I really do wish Apple would extend some screen sharing features onto the mobile side of its business. It would be incredibly useful to be able to share the screen of my iPhone or iPad without having to record a video and send it over3, or to see (and possibly even control?) the screen of someone else’s device to help walk them through a process, without using a workaround like connecting that device to a Mac and then using screen sharing there. Add that to the Wish List, right next to “display a grid in Group FaceTime.”

  1. I refer to it as “hidden” because it’s not in the Applications folder, but /System/ Library/ CoreServices/ Applications along with a few other handy utilities. 
  2. It was also very handy the other day when the Bluetooth module on my mom’s iMac died. I couldn’t request screen sharing from her, because with no Bluetooth mouse or keyboard, she couldn’t accept the request. But I could screen share into my dad’s laptop using this tip, and then use screen sharing to log into my mom’s iMac on the local network, authenticating with her username and password. Voila! 
  3. There is a way to broadcast your iPhone/iPad’s screen to an app like Twitch or Skype, which works in a pinch, but this is less helpful if you’re trying to help someone else. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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