Remotely Solving a Windows Problem Using Two Macs

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My wife’s grandfather recently ran into a problem with his new laptop. At some point he had to restart his laptop but wasn’t able to login Windows (Windows 7 Home Edition). We’re not sure if someone changed the password without his knowledge or if he forgot that he had a passwords (it’s possible that he simply hadn’t restarted his computer since it was given to him).

The simple solution is to download a Windows password reset tool. There are many free tools available for download from the Web. In this case, I chose to use the Offline NT Password and Registry Editor.

However, the plan was to have his laptop for only a short window. My wife picked it up last Sunday and planned to return it the following Friday. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue, except I was out of town and my wife had not used this type of tool before.

Fortunately, we both have Macs. Specifically, MacBook Pro systems. By using FaceTime and Screen Sharing we were able to burn the tool to a pre-built ISO, run it on the laptop and successfully clear the password.

I used Screen Sharing to see and chat with my wife. I also used it to view the display of the Windows laptop (from the camera on her Mac) and inform my wife which options to select. Screen Sharing was useful because I could guide my wife through downloading and burning the ISO image for the tool.

You certainly don’t have to use Macs to remotely diagnose and provide assistance. Combinations of devices, such as an iPhone and an iPad or even a mix of Windows and Macs can be used, though Windows to Mac setups will require cross-platform tools to replace FaceTime and Screen Sharing.

The point of this article is simple to serve as a reminder that remote diagnosis of a computer can often be done using built-in or free tools.

Blank Screen in OS X Remote Desktop Connection

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Recently I started having a problem when connecting to a Windows 7 system from OS X Snow Leopard using Remote Desktop Connection (2.1.0). RDC appeared to connect properly but I could only see a blank screen.

Testing the same version of RDC from another computer seemed to work just fine.

I don’t know why the problem occurred but the solution was simple. I had to change the RDC Preferences for the Display/Color setting from Thousands to Millions. After changing the color depth I could see and interact with the Windows desktop again.

Once I was able to establish a connection I was then able to set the color depth back to Thousands and connect again. I’m not sure what was wrong but changing the color setting and then changing it back seemed to work. It wasn’t an issue with the color setting and the remote machine as the same setting worked when using RDC on another computer.