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Setting Up Virtual Network Computing (VNC) on Mac OS X

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 4/16/2010

Need to control an Apple computer running Mac OS X 10.4 or OS X Leopard from a remote location? Read on to learn easy ways to connect to a remote computer and interact with it as though you are sitting in front of it.

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    What is VNC?

    VNC is acronym for Virtual Network Computing. It is basically a graphical sharing system for controlling another computer remotely.

    VNC allows you to transmit the mouse and keyboard events across a local network or Internet to another computer and view the graphical screen updates. In other words it is a mechanism to send inputs from one computer to another and view what is on the screen of the other computer.

    VNC is very useful for controlling computers in a remote location. For example, suppose you are sitting in front of your computer and want to control another computer that is in another room, building or country; you can do so just like you were sitting in front of it.

    VNC is useful for accessing files from another computer or remote technical support, etc. The technology is commonly used as remote desktop system across different platforms like Mac, Linux, and Windows. For example, from Linux you can connect to a VNC Server on Windows or from Mac OS X you can connect to Linux, or vice-versa.

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    How it Works

    When you connect to a machine at remote location you see the screen of the remote machine. You can then control it with your keyboard and mouse as though you are sitting in front of it. Any action you will take from your machine will affect the remote machine..

    VNS has the following three components:

    1. The VNC Server

    It is the computer that you want to share the screen of. The server allows other computers to directly connect and control it.

    2. The VNC Client

    It is your computer that you will use to connect to a VNC Server (The remote computer)

    3. The Protocol

    It is the method that defines a way for the client and server to communicate with each other.

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    Setting Up Mac OS X 10.4/10.5 As A VNC Server

    Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5 are shipped with the VNC server component, so we just need to turn it on. Here are the steps:

    1. Open up System Preferences from the Apple menu.
    2. Click on the Sharing icon in the ‘Internet and Network’ category.
    3. Select Apple Remote Desktop from the list of items shown.Apple Remote Desktop 
    4. Click on Start to run the Apple Remote Desktop service.

    Your Mac is now set up as a VNC Server, so you can now close the System Preferences.

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    Setting Up Mac OS X 10.4 As A VNC Client

    To connect to a VNC Server, you’ll need a VNC Viewer. There are many free available on Internet, here are the good ones:

    It is an open source program that connects to a VNC Server with its IP address.

    It is the fastest VNC client that includes lot of features that are not available in other common clients.

    The steps for VNC client setup are easy but slightly different with each client you choose. Just follow the documentation that came with software and you’ll have no problems establishing a connection with the server.

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    Mac OS X 10.5 - iChat Method

    iChat in Mac OS X Leopard includes the Screen Sharing feature. It is the easiest method to connect to a VNC Server. Here are the steps to connect using iChat:

    1. Open iChat.
    2. Select your buddy from the main buddies list.
    3. Click on Ask to Share “buddy” Screen or Share My Screen With “buddy”

    That’s it, you are connected with your buddy’s screen and now you may interact with it using your keyboard and mouse..

    To end the screen sharing session, press Command + Esc and you will be disconnected from the remote computer

    Note: To connect to a remote computer using iChat, someone must be at the remote Mac to initiate or accept the sharing session.