Apple’s iChat has a handy screen-sharing feature that allows you to view – and even control – the screen of another Mac over the internet. It’s a useful way of sharing files or even fixing Mac problems that a friend or colleague is having. However, iChat does have its limitations – the key ones being that it only works with Macs, and the screen-sharing option is limited to just two people at a time.
A more versatile alternative is join.me, a new service that allows you to share your screen online with multiple Mac and PC users. The basic version of join.me is completely free, although there is also a Pro version available for $29 (£19) per month or $299 (£192) per year.
You can set up an online screen-sharing session simply by going to the join.me site.
You can use Safari or Firefox on a Mac or PC, but join.me also requires Adobe’s Flash Player, so you can’t use an iPad or iPhone. To start a screen-sharing session you simply press the ‘Share’ button on the web page. Your browser will then download a small program that displays a toolbar at the top of the screen that allows you to control access to the session.
Other people – up to 250 people, in fact – can join your screen-sharing session by going to the join.me website and pressing the Join button. They can then view your computer desktop displayed within their own web browser. There’s a text chat option available for participants and, like iChat, join.me also allows one other person to temporarily take control of your computer. The Pro version of join.me provides additional features, such as personalised links for joining sessions (such as join.me/macworldstaff).
You’ll need to spend a little time browsing the online FAQs before setting up your first screen-sharing session, but join.me is easy to use. Performance will depend on the speed of your internet connection, of course, but as a simple option for sharing and presenting information to friends or colleagues, join.me is hard to fault – especially if you just use the free version.