Screen sharing to support Mom -- on El Capitan

I have used TeamViewer for years to help my Mom (who lives 3000 miles away). It lets me see and control her screen. But TeamViewer stopped working (long story) and I am seeking a replacement. Her Mac is old (a 2007 iMac running El Capitan and not able to use anything more modern) but it’s otherwise perfect for her.

I tried using Messages but apparently that OS doesn’t support screen share via Messages. Apple Support was awesome and worked through getting Messages working (another long story) but we could not achieve the shared screen.

Now, I know even back then, there was built-in VNC in the OS but I don’t know how to make that work, especially since I have to talk my 87-year-old Mom through the installation on her end. She’s sweet but computers are not her jam.

Or, maybe there’s a third party app that does it more easily, through the browser or other magic?

I, too, have a 2007 iMac that cannot be updated beyond El Capitan.

There are at least two options:

  1. Screens

  2. Jump Desktop

The problem that you’re going to have with both is the initial installation of the helper app on her computer. Screens has Screens Connect and Jump Desktop has Jump Desktop Connect which deals with opening the port through her router, etc.

Someone would need to install the “helper” app and sign in to an account in order to let you connect to her computer.

I’m not sure if there are other options that might work.

1 Like

I have a similar use case with my mother.

Just FYI have found Screens to be a real disappointment compared to TeamViewer which is very good. Very slow and not that responsive in use.

There’s also LogMeIn which is good but I recall (perhaps incorrectly) that the free version is more restricted than TV.

Is there still a free version of LMI? I thought that went away and they are now on a $49/mo basic plan for one computer.


You are probably right, it’s been ages since I used it.

I’ve used Screens for a few years to access my own systems remotely and I’ve found it to be extremely reliable and I’ve never had a performance issue with it, and that includes when I’ve been remote in places with very slow internet speeds.

I am 94% certain that I was able to connect to a remote El Capitan iMac using the built in Screen Sharing tool (Found in the sort of weird location /System/Library/CoreServices/Applications )

The remote Mac has to have an Apple ID, and be able to click “ok”.

Have you tried this built-in tool and it failed, or what happened? If I recall, in later OS versions, this functionality merged into Messages, but in El Capitan you could access a Mac directly using the Screen Sharing app.

Oh, and for completeness, there is also a System Preference that has to be toggled on: System Preference / Sharing / Screen Sharing

1 Like

Seth, isn’t the problem with that approach though that often times the remote user will be behind some kind of firewall which is blocking port 5900 (and possibly 88?) so that without router shenanigans this only works over on the LAN? Or does OS X Screen Sharing open up those ports through zeroconf when enabled?

I am no expert, but the times I’ve used this method to connect to a remote Mac, I didn’t have to futz with any firewall settings, nor did my mom (nor did my friend with the El Capitan iMac). All I needed was knowledge of their Apple ID, and they toggled on “Allow Screen Sharing”, and accepted my request.

Again, I don’t know for certain if using the built in Screen Sharing app always works this easily, but it certainly did for me.

Might provide a solution for you? It does require a little nursemaiding for the initial setup (unless you’re doing it locally) but it provides a decent remote access ability.

1 Like

Have you tried Zoom from The Basic version is free and allows one to take keyboard/mouse control of the remote computer. Send a meeting invitation to your mom and when she clicks the link the app downloads and launches automatically. Pretty slick.

1 Like
1 Like

I’ve moved away from Teamviewer to RealVNC.

They have a free tier for friends & family support (5 computers): and

The apps work all the way back to Mac OS X 10.10 Mavericks currently:

Additionally, like Teamviewer Quick Support, they have an app, “Instant Support”:

I can’t tell if Instant Support is available for the free family “subscription”.

I’ve been very happy switching over-less issues and their support, when I’ve needed it has been good.