Editor’s Note: I recently compared a few different remote connection solutions, and found that I preferred Instant Housecall over the others. While IHC does a lot of things well, connecting to a client’s Mac can be a bit challenging if you’re not familiar with the platform. Here, Doctor Dave walks us through the process to connect smoothly with a client on an Apple computer.
Instant Housecall lets you remotely control a client’s Mac or PC. If you’re not familiar with the Mac version, you could have trouble supporting your clients. Matt and I took the time to walk through the steps of the client experience and we found some suggestions along the way.
Downloading the Client
Just like a PC, direct your customer to your customized website and have them click Download. The tricky part is clients don’t always know where the downloads are on a Mac. Most Mac users use Safari and Safari puts its downloads in the Downloads folder. In Safari, go to the View Menu, then Show Downloads.
If your customer has trouble finding the downloads, they can use Apple’s Spotlight to find it. In the upper right hand corner is the magnifying glass for Spotlight. When the customer clicks that icon, they can type your business name with -Mac on the end. In this case, it’s Jiffy-PC-Mac They should be able to find the download as a top result.
Installing the Client
After your customer locates the downloaded file, they’ll need to open it. Mac programs use the .dmg format for installers instead of an .exe or .msi. After your customer opens the .dmg file, they’ll see a disk on the desktop called Instant Housecall.
The instructions say to drag it to the Applications icon. The program works without dragging it to the Applications icon, but it won’t be there when you reboot the computer.
If they follow the instructions, the customer will need to double click on the Applications icon and then double click Instant Housecall from the Applications folder.
A Scary Warning
When they open the program, they may get a warning that they downloaded this program from the Internet. Some clients might get worried about that. Assure them it’s fine. If they click “Don’t warn me when opening applications on this disk image” they won’t get that warning again. If they properly install it into the Applications icon, they shouldn’t get that warning again either.
Unlike the PC version, you don’t have many control options here. You can reboot the system and chat, but that’s about it. When I remote into a Mac, I’ll often do this with the Terminal app. In a remote session, mouse clicks and screen redraws slow down the process. Typing commands from a command prompt gets the job done quicker.
Different Reboot Process
Even when you start a reboot from Instant Housecall, the user may still have to type their password at startup. This isn’t a glitch in Instant Housecall, but part of Apple’s FileVault 2 encryption strategy. Think of it like a BIOS password.
Fortunately if you use terminal and the client has 10.8 or higher, there’s an easy way around it. When you’re ready to reboot, from the Terminal app type:
sudo fdesetup authrestart
That will immediately restart the Mac and bypass the initial startup password. I’d recommend rebooting this way so the client won’t have to type a password on restart.
Customizing the App
In the Mac OS, it’s easy to customize the icon and name of an application. Before you disconnect from the client, create an alias of the app. Go to the File Menu –> Make Alias. Drag that alias to the desktop. Name it with your business such as DoctorDave Remote Support. I suggest changing the icon too. Select the alias you just made and go back to the File menu and pick Get Info. That’s where you change the icon. Copy your business logo to the clipboard (I copy it from my website) and then select the icon up at the top of the Get Info Window for the alias. Then paste the icon in. Now the client always remembers you are there to support them.
Instant Housecall is a powerful cross-platform support tool, but is designed primarily for Windows. If you occasionally support Macs, this guide should help you understand what your customer is seeing on the other end.