How to Share Your Mac’s Screen with Another Mac

The hands of someone using a Mac while the hands of another person are using a MacBook Pro on the table.blackzheep / Shutterstock

Since Macs have built-in screen sharing, you can share your screen with another Mac on your local network via the built-in VNC server or over the Internet via iMessage. Third-party applications, such as TeamViewer, also work on macOS and Windows.

Which option is best for you?

There are three options to choose from to successfully share your screen, display another person’s screen, or control a remote Mac.

The built-in screen sharing feature on macOS is great for sharing your screen with another Mac on your local network. You can also use this method to take full control of a remote Mac, although it doesn’t work natively on the Internet.

If you want to share your screen with someone on another Mac via the Internet, try iMessage. It simultaneously makes a FaceTime call, so you can also talk to the person on the other end. You can share your screen, give up control, or invite the other party to control your Mac. If you know the other person’s Apple ID, you can also sign in directly through the screen sharing app.

Finally, third-party applications, like TeamViewer, work well on macOS, and they also have clients for Windows, Linux, and mobile platforms. You can use TeamViewer to remotely connect two machines from virtually any combination of operating systems and hardware over the Internet. If you want to share your screen with a non-Apple computer, this option is for you.

Share your screen locally with another Mac

There are all kinds of reasons why you may want to connect to a Mac on your local network. Here are some examples:

You have a Mac that acts like a hard-to-access server.
You are down on the couch and you need to check something on your upstairs work machine.
You have taken on the role of technical support for your whole family and you want to simplify your life.
You run a small business, but your local network is not really that small.

If you want to share your Mac screen with another Mac on your local network, setup is simple and only takes a second. Once you’ve set up your Mac to allow screen sharing on your local network, you can connect to it as soon as it’s turned on.

Configure your Mac for remote access

Follow these steps to configure your Mac:

Go to System Preferences> Sharing.
In the left area, search for “Screen Sharing”, then check the box next to it.
Note the computer name, its host name (for example, Your-MacBook-Pro.local) and the VNC address (for example, vnc: //10.0.0.5).
You can also click on “Computer settings”, activate the two settings, then set a secure password.

Remember that if you enable remote management, you cannot enable screen sharing. You can leave Remote Management enabled (and configure it the same way) because the instructions for accessing your Mac are the same.

The Sharing menu on a MacBook Air.

Under “Computer Settings”, you may want to enable the following options:

Anyone can request permission to control the screen: This means that the person who logs in will not be required to enter your Mac username and password to control the computer. He or she can simply request control, then you can manually grant it.
VNC viewers can control the screen with a password: If you enable this option, it allows anyone to connect to your Mac via a standard VNC viewer, like TigerVNC. However, he or she will need to know the VNC address (for example, vnc: //10.0.0.5) to connect.

You can change who has access to screen sharing, but for the sake of simplicity, we recommend leaving this set to “All Users”. As long as you set a password for VNC control under “Computer settings”, your computer must be protected.

Access your shared screen

You can now access your Mac from another on your local network. You can do this in several ways:

Launch Finder, scroll down the sidebar until you see “Locations” (click “View”, if necessary). Find the computer you want to access (you may need to click Network to see it). Click (or double-click) on the computer, click “Share screen”, then wait for it to connect.
Launch Finder, then click Go> Connect to Server from the menu bar. Type the VNC address or host name that you noted previously, then click connect.

If the same Apple ID is connected on both Macs (that is, they are both yours), the sharing session starts immediately without prompting. If you sign in to a machine that you aren’t signed in with your Apple ID (that is, it belongs to another family member or colleague), you need to sign in to that computer with a valid username and password.

Apple’s screen sharing feature uses a built-in VNC server, which means you can also use just about any VNC viewing app to connect and control your Mac from a non-Apple device . Make sure you enable the “VNC viewers can control the screen with a password” option, set a password in “Computer Settings”, and then use an application like TigerVNC to log in.

Since you share your screen locally, you should enjoy relatively smooth performance. The screen resolution should be high enough for you to see what you are doing.

It is possible (if you open port 5900) to connect to a remote computer via VNC via the Internet, but this is a bad idea. When you open your Mac’s VNC port on the Internet, you’re just asking for trouble. There are safer and easier ways to access your computer remotely.

Share your screen on the Internet via iMessage

With the wonders of iMessage and Apple’s Messages app, you can easily share your screen with someone else who has a Mac, iPad, or iPhone. Follow these steps to do so:

Start a chat with the person you want to share your screen with.
Click “Details” in the upper right corner of the chat window.
In the overlay that appears, click the Screen Sharing button (it looks like two overlapping rectangles) next to the person’s name.
Click “Invite to share my screen” to share your screen or “Request to share the screen” to see the other person’s screen.

Once the other person has accepted your request, a FaceTime audio call will start. To allow the other party to control your Mac, click the Screen Sharing button in the menu bar, then click “Allow [contact] to control my screen. “

Note that you should never allow anyone else to control your Mac unless you have full trust in that person. To revoke the control at any time, click the Screen Sharing button and disable this option.

Sharing your screen (or requesting someone else’s access) on the Internet could test your patience. If both parties have fast internet connections, this should be a smooth process. If there is a bad connection in the mix, it may look like a slideshow.

Connect directly to another Mac via screen sharing

To launch the screen sharing application built into your Mac, press Command + Space to open Spotlight Search, type “Screen Sharing”, then press Enter.

You will be prompted to enter a host name (such as a local VNC or Mac connection) or an Apple ID. If you know the Apple ID of the person you want to connect to (and vice versa), you can connect directly.

Type the other person’s Apple ID in the box, then press Enter. Apple calculates the rest from the last known IP address that Mac used. iMessage is a good alternative for this, especially since it allows you to discuss the problem in real time.

Share your screen with a Windows PC or other device

What if you want to share your screen with someone who doesn’t have a Mac? Fortunately, it is fairly straightforward to do so via a third-party remote desktop tool. There are many available, but we recommend TeamViewer. It is free for personal use, easy to use, available for most platforms, and you do not need to register to use it.

First, download and install TeamViewer remote access on the machine you want to control and the machine from which you are connecting. When prompted, grant TeamViewer permission to control your Mac under Settings> Security & Privacy> Privacy> Accessibility.

When you launch TeamViewer, you see a unique ID number and password. You can use these credentials to sign in to, view the screen, and control a Mac from a Windows or Linux machine, or even from a mobile device, such as an iPhone, as long as it’s paired with the TeamViewer application.

If you want to connect unattended to the remote machine, you must register with TeamViewer, then follow the instructions in the application to configure unattended access. Subsequently, the application lists all the shared computers and you can connect with one click.

Simplified screen sharing

Sharing your screen is useful when you need help with a computer problem. If you also have remote access to other Macs in your home, you can control everything from one device.

If you configure remote access software (like TeamViewer), you can access your work PC, even if you are on the other side of the world.

If you have a Windows PC that you would like to configure in the same way, Microsoft also has a suite of Windows-specific tools for screen sharing and control remote computers.

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