Screen Share to Another Mac's Desktop

There's more than one way to connect to a remote Mac's desktop

Screen sharing capability is built into 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 such as helping to repair a faulty drive. 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.

Two mac computers with Apple logos on the screen
Pattanaphong Khuankaew / EyeEm / Getty Images

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.

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, which requires you to know the name or the I.P. address of the Mac you wish to connect to.

​There are other methods of connecting to a remote Mac's screen if this Finder method is not to your liking. you can check out the alternate methods from the following list:

Mac Screen Sharing Using the Finder Sidebar​ ​— The sidebar is capable of listing all shared devices on your local network including any networked Macs.

How to Easily Share Your Mac's Screen​ ​— Screen charing can be accomplished using iChat or Messages to initiate the connection. All this is needed is for you to be having a conversation in the messaging app with the user of the Mac you wish to connect to.

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:
    For example: vnc://
  4. or
    1.  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.
  5. Click the Connect button.
  6. Depending on how you set up Mac's screen sharing, you may be asked for a name and password. Enter the appropriate information, and click Connect.
  7. A new window will open, displaying the target Mac's desktop.
  8. 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. While screen sharing allows you to see what is occurring on the remote screen, you are also able to take control, launch apps, manipulate files, you may run into an issue with the performance of remotely running apps. This can include video and audio being out sync or stuttering, making screen sharing a poor choice for watching a movie on a remote Mac. 

Otherwise, screen sharing works pretty much just as if you were physically at the remote Mac.