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Mac Screen sharing is not just for Macs

Some material is very old and may be incorrect today

© December 2015 Anthony Lawrence

Mac's new Leopard OS X has added a "Screen Sharing" capability. For Mac A to control Mac B's screen, Mac B simply has to turn on Screen Sharing in System Preferences->Sharing. Mac B will show up in Mac A's sidebar in Finder Windows, and clicking on that will offer a "Share Screen" button that let's you connect.

But what about connecting to a Windows box? Well, how about this:

showing vnc sharing mac to windows

That's Mac Screen Sharing connecting to a TightVNC server on my wife's Windows XP machine (click it for a larger image). I'm looking at QuickBooks and wondering why I haven't made any money so far this month.. oh, yeah, I've been goofing off this week - that'll do it!

To make that connection from Finder, I just clicked "Go->Connect to Server" and typed in "vnc://" (that machine's IP address). That's it, and of course if ports were open, I could have just as easily done that across the Internet.

That last part is very important to me for supporting customers who haven't made other arrangements for remote access: I send them to the TightVNC site, help them adjust their router to forward 5900 inward to that machine, and that's all I need.

By the way, TightVNC gives a link to this Port Forwarding site. I haven't tried that out with a live customer yet, but if their router is on the list there, it looks like I could just have the customer reconfigure their router semi-automatically.. gosh, that could save a lot of confusion.

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Mon Mar 3 15:39:47 2008: 3767   AnnaM

100% web-based screen sharing tool such as LiveLOOK results in even more cross-platform flexibility. Since LiveLOOK is web-based, you can use it on PC, Mac or Linux. There is no software to install - just click a button, and you can show your screen to anybody on any computer. (link)

Mon Mar 3 15:42:57 2008: 3768   TonyLawrence

There are dozens of such things: GotoMyPC, Logmein.. VNC is free..

Mon Mar 3 19:08:56 2008: 3775   AnnaM

LiveLOOK is substantially different from older VNC-based technologies (i.e. GoToMyPc, LogMeIn, etc.). Can you look at Mac screen from PC using GoToMyPC or LogMeIn? The answer is no. LiveLOOK can without installing anything on Mac or PC.

Here is the reason why:

1. Older tools are VNC-based, which means they require downloads. LiveLOOK has abandoned VNC standard and is 100% web-based, which means it requires no software downloads.

2. Older VNC-based tools allow someone on a Mac to view a screen (join a presentation) of someone on PC, but they do not allow someone on Mac to show their screen to someone on PC. VNC-based tools require downloads for the person who is showing their screen. LiveLOOK allows both showing and seeing a screen on any platform and requires no downloads either for a person who is showing a screen, or for a person who is viewing the screen.

3. Being web-based is structurally different than being VNC-based. Differences on structure/strategy level are similar to differences between Google Apps and Microsoft Office. Web-based applications are on-demand, they install nothing on your computer, and work universally on any computer with a browser (Google Apps, LiveLOOK). Applications based on installations of executables, and are, therefore, limited to being platform-specific (GoToMeeting, WebEx, LogMeIn).

4. Firewall and security alarms issues are also worth mentioning any executable sets them off. A web-based tool is viewed as regular internet traffic, and has no issues with firewalls and personal alarm systems.

Mon Mar 3 21:18:57 2008: 3776   TonyLawrence

Ok - fair points..

Thu May 1 19:29:54 2008: 4164   Nate

Take a look at Vine Server from Redstone Software. The server seems to be free and I am connecting to my Mac at home from my PC at work.

Fri May 30 03:40:52 2008: 4264   Paul

LiveLOOK requires JAVA -- that is hardly a 'No Download' technology! It requires a Java runtime on Windows (which does not ship standard), and it runs a Java Applet, which is running local code on your PC! So how is this any different than running a VNC server or Vine on your Mac to allow your PC to connect to it?

Don't be fooled by the marketing hype.

Fri Jul 24 15:48:20 2009: 6677   chris

With VNC (or Logmein, etc) I can actually *run* applications on the remote machine. I can *install* applications on the other machine. Can you do that? Um, no.

Either you're fantastically ignorant of the fact that many people need to do actual work on remote or headless machines, or, in your zeal to spam BS about your (sad) product, you strive to confuse people anyway.

Fri Jul 24 19:09:29 2009: 6678   TonyLawrence

So this silly thing just shows another screen?

Possible useful in some contexts, but nothing to do with what we're talking about here!

Thu Mar 18 19:18:52 2010: 8237   anonymous


OSX screen sharing does everything vnc does, including controlling the host computer....installing software, etc.....

Thu Mar 18 19:21:46 2010: 8238   TonyLawrence


Yes - because it IS VNC.

Tue Dec 7 05:12:04 2010: 9148   VanJenerette



I hope you're well. I'm having difficulty getting Screen Sharing on my Mac to connect to my PC which is running UltraVNC Server.

I have port forwarded 5500, 5800, 5900 to the PC's static IP address of

Any thoughts? I'm trying to connect using my home network's internal IP addresses before I go and try from the internet.

I appreciate your help and thoughts.


Tue Dec 7 12:55:00 2010: 9150   TonyLawrence


The port forwarding doesn't matter until you are trying from outside.

I don't know anything abou UltraVNC on Windows, sorry. Start by seeing if it is even listening by "telnet 5900"

You could be blocking it with a Windows firewall.

Thu Mar 22 12:08:55 2012: 10764   TonyLawrence


I had an interesting application of this yesterday.

A court sketch artist (Jane Collins,the woman who is doing the Whitey Bulger Trial) gave a lecture at our community center. She had slides in Keynote on her Mac, but did not have an iMac VGA adaptor to hook up to the large projector screen our clubhouse has.

I ran down with my MacBook, hooked up that to the projector (different adaptor), enabled screen sharing on her computer and initiated a connection, putting her screen on the big screen by way of my computer.

A nice side effect: you can zoom up the view on the MacBook side (control key with the mouse) to magnify things without affecting the iMac. Interesting how using two computers actually makes some things better.

Sat Mar 21 05:37:09 2015: 12626   JasonDill


In addition to TightVNC, you may consider an on premise desktop screen sharing solution from R-HUB - (link)

Sat Mar 21 09:00:17 2015: 12627   TonyLawrence


It sure is a crowded field. I find most of my customers use TeamViewer now.


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