Sunday, May 20, 2012

How to remote control Mac OS X from a Windows computer using RealVNC

This is now my second blog post that is Mac related. Yes, I do own a Mac. Specifically, it is a late 2006 white Macbook with an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0ghz CPU and 2GB of RAM. It isn’t the biggest and baddest of Apple’s hardware line but it does serve its purposes. I have been using Mac more and more as the days go on thanks to the popularity of Apple’s products in the consumer space. Macbook Pros, iMacs, and other Apple computers are being added to my employer’s network every day so it only makes sense that I get up to speed with OS X.

A quick backstory about this post:
I do not like having to physically move from one keyboard and mouse on my desk to another keyboard and mouse on a different computer if that second computer is RIGHT NEXT to my primary PC’s monitor. Remote control software comes in handy for times like these.

Mac OS X has a remote control protocol called ‘VNC’ built into the operating system so it makes it easy to set up what Apple calls “Screen Sharing”. What I am doing on my own network is using Mac OS X as a secondary computer and my Windows 8 CP laptop as my primary. I set up VNC on the Mac so I can remote control it from my Windows computer. There are some caveats to this type of setup…

**These instructions are for setting up Screen Sharing on a Mac computer and remote controlling it with a Windows computer using the RealVNC Viewer software, where both the Mac and Windows computers are on the SAME NETWORK (a.k.a. same subnet). If you want to remote control a Mac from a Windows computer on different networks, then you may be interested in using LogMeIn Free instead.

Lets dive right into the process for how to do this:

  1. On the Mac OS X computer, click Apple > System Preferences.
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  2. Under the Internet and Sharing section, click “Sharing”.
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  3. Place a check mark next to “Screen Sharing”.
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  4. Click on the “Computer Settings…” button.
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  5. Place a check mark next to “VNC viewers may control screen with password” and type a password of your choosing. Click OK when done. **This is a password you will need to type in order to remote control the Mac from any VNC client.
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    --This is a very basic security model for setting up VNC remote control access on a Mac. A password should be set at a minimum.
  6. On your Windows computer, download the free version of RealVNC Viewer. A link to the download is here: http://www.realvnc.com/cgi-bin/download.cgi. **Ignore filling out the form and just click on “Proceed to Downloads” to go to the downloads page.
  7. During the install, do not choose the box for installing the “RealVNC Server”, only install the viewer.
  8. Launch RealVNC. In the Server text box, type the IP address of the Mac computer and click OK.
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  9. Type the password you chose when setting up access for remote control on the Mac and click OK.
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  10. If everything was successful, RealVNC viewer will present a remote control screen of your Mac computer.
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That’s it. This is a very general way of setting up screen sharing on Mac. Take a look below for a couple of other helpful how-to links for beginner Mac-heads like me:

How to connect to Windows File Sharing (SMB)
How to take screenshots in Mac OS X

- Joe