How to Connect to Another Mac’s Desktop via Screen Sharing

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17 / 03 / 2017

How to Connect to Another Mac’s Desktop via Screen Sharing

Have you ever considered connecting to remote Mac desktop? The screen sharing feature is built into macOS and lets you access files, folders, and applications just like you are sitting in front of a remote Mac at the moment. Why would you need this feature? Imagine the situation when your “tech-savvy” grandparents or parents call you and desperately ask for help when something goes wrong with their machine. Screen Sharing is a good way for troubleshooting.

There are two easy ways for setting up screen sharing. The first one is appropriately called “Screen Sharing” and the second one is Remote Management. Both methods use the VNC (Virtual Network Computing) system, but Screen Sharing is frequently used by home users. Remote Management covers support for Apple Remote Desktop application to let remote staff troubleshoot and configure Macs (typically used in enterprise environments).      

Most home users prefer using Screen Sharing because it’s free of charge. To activate it, do the following:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner and select System Preferences.

  2. In the System Preferences window, click the Sharing pane.

  3. Select the Screen Sharing checkbox.

  4. Click “Computer Settings”.

  5. Select the “VNC viewers may control screen with password” checkbox and type the password that gives the permission to access your machine.

  6. After you confirm the changes by clicking “OK”, select who has permission to access your Mac’s screen. The “Only these users” option allows you to add the appropriate user to the list.

  7. Close the Sharing preferences pane.

Time to Access a Remote Mac

If you’ve successfully completed the aforementioned configuration steps, then it’s high time to make the screen sharing connection. You can use the Finder to connect to a Mac with the activated Screen Sharing option. How to do this? There’s no magic in it.

  1. Click the Finder icon.

  2. In the top menu bar, click the “Go” menu.

  3. Select “Connect to Server”.

  4. In the window that opens, type the network name or the address of the target Mac.

Important: use one of the formats mentioned below:

vnc://numericaddress.ofthemac.in.network (for example vnc:// or

vnc://TheNameOfTargetMac (you can find the name of the Mac that you want to connect to in the Sharing pane in System Preferences)

Click “Connect” to display the window requesting the password. Type the access passcode that is set up for the target machine and enjoy the remote Mac Desktop.


Screen Sharing Alternatives

    There are free Screen Sharing alternatives that are available for non-commercial users. Such methods have their pros and cons. The main disadvantage is that the potential user should download third-party apps or plugins on both machines. If you download apps from untrusted sources, there’s a chance to get malware or adware. Considering all pros and cons, most likely you’ll choose between TeamViewer and Google Chrome Remote Desktop extension.

    You can use TeamViewer in different ways - either set it up with permanent password to access the remote machine or launch it on a target Mac and use temporary login details. Both options are convenient for not tech-savvy persons because they should not worry about server configuration issues. The TeamViewer app is available on the official website: https://www.teamviewer.com/en/download/mac/

    Google offers a free Chrome Remote Desktop extension for remote connection. Download and install this plugin for Chrome Web Store on both machines and pass through the brainstorming activation process. Detailed instructions on how to use this extension are available on the official website.  


    It’s up to you to decide which method to use for accessing a remote Mac. The built-in macOS Screen Sharing feature is exactly what you need for basic troubleshooting and assistance.