Mac Screen Sharing - How to Connect to Another Mac's Desktop

There's More Than One Way to Connect to a Remote Mac's Desktop

Screen Sharing by way of the Finder's Connect to Server
In the Connect to Server window, enter either the address or the network name of the target Mac. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Screen sharing capability is built in to the Mac. With it, you can access a remote Mac's desktop, and view and manipulate files, folders, and applications, just as if you were sitting in front of the remote Mac.

This makes Mac screen sharing a go-to application whenever you need access to a remote Mac. For example, it's great for helping someone troubleshoot a problem. With Mac screen sharing, you can see exactly what is happening on the remote Mac, and help diagnose and fix the problem.

Mac screen sharing is also an excellent way to access documents and applications on your Mac when you're in another location. Let's say you use Quicken to track and manage your family's finances. It would be nice if you could update your Quicken files from any Mac you have at home, but Quicken wasn't designed for multiple users accessing the same data files. So, when you're sitting in the den and you decide to make an online purchase, you have to remember to get up and go to the home office, and update your Quicken account.

With Mac screen sharing, you can bring up your home office Mac on your current screen, launch Quicken, and update your accounts, without moving from the den.

Setting Up Mac Screen Sharing

Before you can share your Mac's desktop with others, you must enable screen sharing. To do that, follow the instructions in this guide:

Mac Screen Sharing - Share Your Mac's Screen on Your Network

Accessing Remote Mac Desktops

Now that you have your Mac configured to allow screen sharing, it's time to actually make a screen sharing connection.

There are numerous ways to access another Mac's desktop. In this article, we'll use the Finder's Connect to Server menu. You'll find other connection methods listed at the end of this article.

Accessing Remote Mac Desktops Using the Finder's Connect to Server Menu

The Finder has a Connect to Server option located under the Go menu. We can use this option to connect to a Mac that has screen sharing turned on. You may wonder why screen sharing is available from the Connect to Server menu; the answer is that screen sharing uses a client/server model. When you enable screen sharing, you turn on your Mac's VNC (Virtual Network Connection) server.

To make the connection, do the following:

  1. Make sure the Finder is the foremost application by clicking on the desktop, or clicking in a Finder window.
  2. Select 'Connect to Server' from the Finder's Go menu.
  3. In the Connect to Server window, enter either the address or the network name of the target Mac, in the following format:

    vnc://numeric.address.ofthe.mac (For example: vnc://


    vnc://MyMacsName (Where MyMacsName is the network name of the target Mac). If you don't know the network name, you can find the name listed in the Sharing preference pane of the Mac you are attempting to connect to (See Setting up Mac Screen Sharing above).

  4. Click the Connect button.
  5. Depending on how you set up the Mac's screen sharing, you may be asked for a name and password. Enter the appropriate information, and click Connect.
  1. A new window will open, displaying the target Mac's desktop.
  2. Move your mouse cursor into the desktop window.

You can now interact with the remote desktop just as if you were sitting in front of that Mac.

Published: 5/5/2011

Updated: 4/15/2015