How to Screen Share With Another Mac's Desktop

There's more than one way to connect to another Mac

What to Know

  • On the target Mac, choose System Preferences > Sharing > Screen Sharing to turn this feature on. Repeat on the other Mac.
  • Use Finder to connect to the target Mac's address or find it by name from the Finder Sidebar.
  • You can also screen share directly through the Messages app.

This article explains how to set up screen sharing on your Mac and access another Mac's desktop by connecting to the target Mac's address, finding it by name from the Finder Sidebar, or by using the Messages app. The information in this article applies to Macs with Big Sur (macOS 11), Catalina (macOS 10.15), and Mojave (macOS 10.14).

Set Up Mac Screen Sharing

Screen sharing is a helpful feature built into Macs. It's easy to set up a Mac to share your screen, files, and services with other users on your network, access documents and apps remotely, or restart your Mac remotely.

The first step is to turn on screen sharing on your Mac and the Mac you want to access.

  1. Go to the Apple menu, and choose System Preferences > Sharing.

    macOS Sharing option from the System Preferences menu
  2. Select the Screen Sharing checkbox to enable this feature.

    Screen Sharing turned on from the macOS Sharing dialog box

    If Remote Management is selected, deselect it. Screen Sharing and Remote Management can't work at the same time.

  3. Specify who can share your screen. Choose All Users for any user on your network or select Only These Users to limit who can share your screen.

    Specifying access for screen sharing between Macs
  4. If you selected Only These Users, choose the Add button (plus sign) to add a user from Users & Groups or Network Users.

    Adding users for screen sharing between Macs
  5. Optionally, select Computer Settings and select the Anyone may request permission to control screen check box. This way, other users won't have to enter a username and password when they want to access your screen.

    Boxed checked next to Anyone may request permission to control screen
  6. When you're finished with your preferences, close the Sharing dialog box. You're ready to begin a screen-sharing session with another user.

Start Screen Sharing Using the Target Mac's Address

After you enable screen sharing on both machines, the other party can connect to your computer and initiate a screen-sharing session by using your Mac's address.

  1. From the Apple menu, go to System Preferences > Sharing > Screen Sharing and note the Mac's address. The format will look like vnc://[IPAddress] or vnc://[Name.Domain].

    Editing a Mac computer's address for sharing purposes
  2. On the Mac that is requesting screen access, choose Finder > Go > Connect to Server.

    Connect to Server highlighted from Go in the Finder menu on a Mac
  3. Enter the address of the Mac you want to view, then select Connect.

    Connect to Server window dialog box on Macs
  4. If you're required to log in for access, enter the username and password and click Sign In.

    Screen Sharing sign in dialog box for Macs
  5. If both computers are logged in using the same Apple ID, the screen-sharing session begins immediately once you select Share Screen. A new window opens, displaying the target Mac's desktop.

    Share screen button for Macs logged in with the same Apple ID

    If both Macs aren't logged in with the same Apple ID credentials or the Guest option isn't enabled on the target Mac, you're prompted to enter the username and password of the other user. Or you can request permission to share the screen if the computer allows it.

  6. You can now interact with the remote desktop just as if you were sitting in front of that Mac. Take control, launch apps, manipulate files, and more.

Start a Screen-Sharing Session Using the Finder Sidebar

Using the Finder Sidebar is a fast method for locating the target Mac by name to start screen sharing.

  1. Go to Finder > File > New Finder Window.

    New Finder Window option from the Finder menu on Macs
  2. In the Finder Sidebar, select Locations > Network. This displays a list of shared network resources, including the target Mac.

    Linked Macs from the Locations and Network panel from Finder on macOS

    If no items appear in the Locations section of the sidebar, hold the pointer over the word Locations and select Show.

  3. Select the target Mac from the Network list.

    List of shared computers from the Network dialog box under Locations in the Finder Sidebar in macOS
  4. Click Share Screen to access the target Mac or enter credentials and then select Connect if prompted to log in.

    Share Screen button from Finder window between two connected Macs
  5. The remote Mac's desktop opens in a separate window on your Mac. Use it as if it were right in front of you. You'll see controls for adjusting the scale and an icon in the menu bar that lets you know you're screen sharing.

    Screen sharing controls and menu icon during an active sharing session between Macs

Start a Screen-Sharing Session From Messages

Using the Messages app on your Mac is another easy way to start a screen-sharing session.

  1. Open the Messages app on your Mac.

  2. Initiate a conversation with your friend, or select a conversation already in progress.

  3. In the chosen conversation, select Details in the upper-right corner of the conversation window.

    Messages > Details
  4. From the pop-up window that opens, select the Screen Sharing button. It looks like two small displays.

    Share screen icon in Messages
  5. A second pop-up menu appears. Choose Invite to Share My Screen or Ask to Share Screen.

  6. If the friend accepts the request, screen sharing begins.

    At first, the friend viewing your Mac's desktop can only view and not interact with your Mac. They can, however, request the ability to control your Mac by selecting the Control option in the Screen Sharing window.

Was this page helpful?