How to share presentations in Messages


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Reader Keith White has a concern regarding remote presentations. He writes:

I’m giving a presentation to a remote group next week and, as in the past, I was going to use Messages to do that. Now that I’m running Mavericks it doesn’t seem to work. What am I doing wrong?

The glib answer is “You’re running Mavericks.” The less glib answer is that Messages’ iChat Theater feature is gone in the Mavericks version.

For the “Wait, what?” crowd, allow me to explain. In iChat and then later in Messages prior to Mavericks, you could share a Keynote presentation simply by having a copy of Keynote on your Mac, engaging in a video chat (both parties had to be on the same service—AIM, Jabber, Bonjour, but not iCloud), and then dragging a Keynote file into the bottom half of the video chat window. This would cause the presentation to appear on the other person’s Mac, with a small video window of the presenter. Under Mavericks if you attempt to do this you’ll see that you have the option to only send the file to the person on the other end.

My hope is that this is a feature that Apple simply hasn’t gotten around to reinstating but intends to, as I’ve found it very useful when conducting remote presentations of my own.

Given that, what are your alternatives? If you really like doing this kind of thing through Messages then I’d suggest that you install a copy of Mountain Lion and Keynote on another drive connected to your Mac. Boot from that drive and use Messages as you once did. The person on the other end doesn’t also have to be running Mountain Lion. If they’re using Mavericks they’ll still see your shared presentation.

If you’re not fully committed to Messages I’d suggest that you take a look at Zoom, an online meeting service that’s free for up to 25 participants. (Group meetings are limited to 40 minutes per meeting, but one-to-one meetings, which is likely what you’re doing, can run for an unlimited amount of time.) Zoom is not only free, but it allows you to share a specific window on your screen (which would be your open Keynote window) and, like iChat Theater, displays your video image as you talk. To use it you must register your free account and allow Zoom to install an app that lets you use the service. You then invite others to your meeting. When they click the meeting’s link their default web browser will launch and they too must download and run a copy of the Zoom app (though they’re not required to have an account).

The paid-for version of GoToMeeting does this too, but not the free version. Both Google Hangouts and Skype are options as well, as they let you share your screen but won’t display your video image at the same time.

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