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I use Messages' Ask to Share Screen feature all the time to remotely debug problems on my contacts' Macs.

It's a very easy way to initiate a Screen Sharing session, does not require port forwarding, and does not require a local network / works over the internet: Does screen sharing work when not on the same local network?

Messages > select a Conversation > Details > Screen Sharing button > Ask to Share Screen

This generates a notification on the remote Mac, asking for permission: "NAME would like to view your screen".

NAME would like to view your screen

And until that notification is accepted, your Mac will be "Waiting for response from NAME".

Waiting for response from NAME

This works fine, and is secure, when you are remotely helping a contact who is in front of their Mac. They can decide to share their screen, and accept/decline your request.

But I would like to use the same mechanism to control my own Macs remotely. No one is sitting in front of the screen to press "Accept", so it will never connect.

How can I initiate Screen Sharing remotely via Apple ID?

  • Is there any "official" way to Screen Share across networks with two Macs that are using the same Apple ID?
  • Can the above notification be scripted via Apple Script or similar to automatically accept Screen Sharing requests?
  • If I am able to script an automatic accept, can such Screen Sharing requests be limited by Apple ID? What other security measures should be considered?
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    It seems natural if one Mac is registered to my Apple ID it’d allow another Mac registered to the same ID to access screen without an extra prompt. It could be a boon for remote dev if it worked that way, but as it is it seems impossible without giving someone else access to the first Mac in order to accept the prompt. In your situation, if your Macs are on the same network (mine aren’t), it could be possible to initiate by entering username/hostname/credentials in VNC format, as opposed to entering Apple ID. Jan 10, 2021 at 6:40
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    Also, Apple’s own ARD may allow to achieve something like that, but it costs (and probably comes with a bunch of unnecessary enterprise admin features). Jan 10, 2021 at 6:57
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    ARD reviews show it's pretty much dying on the vine at this point. In your shoes if you don't get other answers, you might just go with TeamViewer or Splashtop for remote access to your personal systems. Jan 11, 2021 at 2:49

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You can get permissionless access using VNC protocol from another Mac. I've enabled this for our home iMac and my son's MacBook both to do remote management and to quickly check that he's on task or help him with access issues during remote learning days. It does require that you have the target computer's IP address and that port forwarding is enabled if you are attempting to access remotely rather than on the same network. (In my case, the iMac can be accessed remotely, but I don't port forward for my son's computer, so I can only access it when I am at home.)

In preferences (General -> Sharing -> Screen Sharing), make sure the specific local user account you want to use to connect is added to screen sharing. Ensure "Anyone may request permission to control screen" is enabled in Computer Settings. Connect from Finder (Go -> Connect to Server -> enter vnc://[target computer IP]:5900). If this is an access you will use repeatedly, click the + button at bottom of popup window to save it to your list for convenience.

When login prompt appears, enter the local user name and password you enabled under Sharing. The local user will get a notice (at least under macOS Ventura) that the computer is being controlled remotely; they will have the option to disconnect you. But no permission response is required, at least in my testing. Users not explicitly included in Screen Sharing access will likely still require permission prior to allowing you to connect.

If logging in using an admin account, and a different user is logged on, you may be asked whether you want to log on as the user you entered when connecting, or share the screen of the currently logged in user. If you select the latter, again, permission will likely be required.

It's a bit muddled as more recent macOS versions have made this slightly more difficult to initially set up, in the name of privacy, but once you have gotten it to work (and saved the connection) you should be good in future. Worst case scenario, you'd have to determine whether the $80 Apple Remote Desktop program is worth it to you for your intended use case.

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I tried this and after login no screenshare appears, also it wouldn't work without port forwarding set in the router. I also discovered that if you use the ip address rather than the apple id to login in with apples standard screenshare app it offers you username and password login anyway and logs in with no attendance at the other end. Tested on 2013 Mac Pro Monterey both ends one in Thailand and the other UK.

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