Messages App Screen Sharing

I am the tech go to guy in my family, especially for Mac and iOS stuff. That means once in a while I need to share someones screen on their Mac to do some troubleshooting. The easiest way to do that is using the Messages App in the macOS.

Sharing Screens

What actually happens when you use the Messages App to share someone else’s screen is that the Messages App uses the builtin Screen Sharing capabilities of the macOS. The Screen Sharing app is located in the System Library folder:

This is how this all works in the Messages App. Start off by texting the person in question to establish a link to their Apple ID in the Messages App. In this case I am texting myself so don’t let that throw you off:

Once you have the text link established, click on the “Details” link in the upper right corner of the Messages window. It will provide a drop down window. Just click on the little screen symbol and select “Ask to share screen”:

When you do that this is what appears on the other persons Mac:

When the other person clicks on “Accept” they get this window with the choice of either allowing you to Control or just Observe their screen:

Basically, they are in control the whole time. They do not have to allow you to control their screen and once they accept, they can still limit you to observing. Actually, sometimes observing is good enough if all you have to do is watch how someone does something to see what they are doing wrong.

Once they click “Accept” and allow you to control their Mac, their screen appears on your Mac Display:

I had to block out a little information here. If you look at the top of the screen you will see Screen Sharing controls. You can go back to just Observing, you can go full screen on your Mac and you can activate the clipboard. At this point you can go anywhere on their Mac, look at stuff and do stuff. However, it is always a good idea to have the other person present so they can enter their Mac password if it is needed for installs and other things. Also, sometimes it is helpful for them to watch what you do, kind of a training session so to speak.


The Messages Screen Sharing capability comes in pretty handy for helping other people on their Macs. If you haven’t tried it, connect with a friend and give it a test drive.1

  1. By the way, there are third party apps that do this sharing with more features. But, if you are not in the market for another app and can get by with the Messages app then you are good to go.