Working from home

Let’s not panic. Be informed not alarmed I think is the well worn phrase.

A lot of people have been asking me about working from home and hurriedly wanting to set up Skype, Zoom or FaceTime in order to work or stay in contact with family and friends.

They are also letting gormless looking technicians into their homes in order to have their Macs fixed, so I thought I would give you some ideas on how best to protect them… and you.

Well I think the first piece of advice I have would be to have plenty of wine on hand. Believe me when I tell you – it makes everything better.

Secondly… let us talk about letting people into your home.

If someone is happy to visit you it probably means that they are pretty relaxed with you and the situation in general. That said, a few basic steps wouldn’t go astray during these, frankly, weird times.

Sanitise your mouse and keyboard before they arrive. Don’t worry about the screen too much. To be honest, if the technician starts licking your screen they probably shouldn’t be walking the streets anyway.

Have them wash their hands when they arrive and wash their hands when they leave.

No hugging. Obviously.

Working from home

Working from home can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.

For some it means nothing more than a phone and access to their email.

To others it means a Remote Desktop connection to their workstation at the office or a Citrix connection or a VPN or all three!

In any case, the first step will be to consult with your work place IT. All these facilities might have already been setup for a select few but you might not be on their list. And for any of this to work you’ll need to be added. They will also give you all the settings, user names, passwords and what have you to get it working on your Mac.

Armed with this information you can then call your local friendly (not forgetting gormless looking) tech to come in and install it all.

What about contacting other people?

This is generally a two way street. You need (usually) the same software as them, a username of your own and you need to know their username as well. Regardless of the method, this is generally the way it works.

Facetime. This is probably the easiest… and the most restrictive because it is Apple only.

If the person you wish to contact is in your Contacts already, just launch the Contacts app, find the contact and a FaceTime option will be right there. 

If they are new, launch the FaceTime app (its in your Applications folder) and type their phone number or AppleID into the Search field and hit Return. Don’t worry, if they have an account you will be offered both Audio and Video.

Zoom. This is a very popular application that is free with a restriction of 40 minute meetings and, I am told, reliable and works well. Your intended victim (err, friend or client) will have to have installed and created a Zoom account in order for this to work. So if they need too, feel free to send them this article. Happily this works on Mac and Windows.

Here is how to get started with Zoom.

  1. Head over to
  2. Type in your email address.
  3. Click on the Sign Up, its free button.
  4. You’ll be sent an email to confirm your email address.
  5. Open your email client, find the email (it might be in junk), open it and click on Activate Account button.
  6. Type in your Name and choose a password.
  7. Click Continue
  8. Straight away you’ll be asked to invite your colleagues. If you are the maverick here, go right ahead and put in their email addresses and get them invited. If you’d rather they fend for themselves (or they already have an account); click on Skip this step.
  9. From here click on Go to My Account.
  10. You will arrive at a page with a whole heap of guff on it. You might choose to finesse this stuff with a photo but really all you need to do is click on Resources  (top right hand corner) and choose Download Zoom client.
  11. Once downloaded, open it, type in your user name and password.
  12. From here you can start a meeting by clicking on New Meeting and choose a contact or email address (assuming the other person as set up their account already). Or you can choose Join to jump into a meeting. You’ll need to and enter the Meeting ID that the other person has, doubtlessly, already emailed to you.

Skype is a mess and it has been ever since Microsoft bought and ruined it.

  1. Head over to
  2. Click on Downloads and download the application
  3. If you don’t have a Skype account (or Microsoft account), create one.
  4. Once setup sign in and you’ll be asked to grant access to your Contacts. This is usually a waste of time so click on Skip it and instead click in the search field and type in the Skype user name they have already sent you. Then click on the video camera icon to start a video chat.

I hope this helped a little bit and I hope that you don’t end up being cooped up too long.

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    • Helen Disney on March 19, 2020 at 9:43 AM
    • Reply

    Thanks Renny

    • Trish Roberts on March 19, 2020 at 9:47 AM
    • Reply

    Thanks, Renny! Good that you’ve reached out with some sensible advice. I tried to download Skype but the computer wouldn’t accept it, anyway. For the session I have in mind, I can speak to the person by phone, and sort out some other kind of option after this madness has passed.
    Thanks again,

    • Garrie Mallon on March 19, 2020 at 10:22 AM
    • Reply

    Thanks Renny. Very useful. Appreciate you taking the time!

    • Liz on March 19, 2020 at 10:30 AM
    • Reply

    Hi Rennie,

    Thanks for this great article.

    I remember about a year ago there was a FaceTime bug. Am I right that this has been resolved now? Or are there still security issues with FaceTime?

    • Jenny Sheehan on March 19, 2020 at 10:37 AM
    • Reply

    Thank you Renny,

    I’m lucky to have all this set up by work but even so, for us non-techies, the simple fact of needing to ‘Allow’ access from the Security & Privacy system preference wasn’t known and caused lots of angst while my Mac spent all night trying to connect. Unfortunately, techies seem to think we have what they see as ‘basic knowledge’ and we obviously don’t.
    I rarely reply to your emails but wanted you to know they are always read and the info contained is very much appreciated.

    Cheers (tho a little bit early in the day to be clicking wine glasses)
    Thank you

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