Since the Mac has a built-in screen sharing, you can share your screen with another Mac over a local network via the built-in VNC server, or over the Internet via iMessage. Third party apps like TeamViewer also work on both macOS and Windows.

Which option is right for you?

There are three options from which you can choose to share your screen, view another person’s screen, or control a remote Mac.

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

If you want to share your screen with someone on another Mac over the Internet, try iMessage. It initiates a FaceTime call at the same time, so you can also talk to the person on the other end. You can share your screen, give up control, or invite another party to take control of your Mac. If you know the other person’s Apple ID, you can also connect directly through the Screen Sharing app.

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

Share your screen locally with another Mac

There are numerous reasons why you might want to connect to a Mac on your local network. Here are some examples:

  • You have a Mac that acts like a server that is hard to access.
  • You go down to the couch downstairs and need to check something on the work machine upstairs.
  • You have taken on the role of technical support for your entire family and want to make life easier for yourself.
  • You run a small business, but your LAN isn’t really that small.

If you want to share your Mac’s screen with another Mac over LAN, it’s easy and only takes one second to set up. Once you’ve set up your Mac for LAN screen sharing, you’ll be able to connect to it when it’s turned on.

Set up your Mac for remote access

Follow these steps to set up your Mac:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Sharing.
  2. In the box on the left, find «Screen Sharing» and then check the box next to it.
  3. Make a note of the computer name, its hostname (for example, Your-MacBook-Pro.local), and the VNC address (for example, vnc://
  4. You can also click Computer Settings, enable both settings, and then set a secure password.

Keep in mind that if you turn on remote control, you won’t be able to turn on screen sharing. You can leave remote control enabled (and set it up the same way) since the instructions for accessing your Mac are identical.

Sharing menu on MacBook Air.

In the Computer Settings section, you can enable the following options:

  • Anyone can request permission to control the screen : This means that the person connecting will not need to enter their Mac username and password to control the computer. He or she can simply request control and then you can manually grant it.
  • VNC viewers can control screen with password : if you enable this, it will allow anyone to connect to your Mac via a standard VNC viewer like TigerVNC. However, he or she must know the VNC address (for example, vnc:// in order to connect.

Computer Settings options in macOS.

You can change who has access to screen sharing, but for simplicity, we recommend leaving this set to All Users. As long as you set a password for VNC control in Computer Settings, your computer should be secure.

Shared screen access

Now you can access your Mac from another computer on your local network. There are several ways to do this:

  • Launch Finder, scroll the sidebar until you see Locations (click Show if needed). Find the computer you want to access (you may have to click Network to see it). Click (or double-click) the computer, click Screen Sharing, and wait for it to connect.
  • Launch Finder and click Go > Connect to Server in the menu bar. Enter the VNC address or hostname you noted earlier and then click Connect.

Click Share Screen.

If both Macintosh computers have the same Apple ID (i.e. both are yours), the sharing session will begin immediately without prompting. If you’re connecting to a computer that you’re not signed in to with your Apple ID (that is, it belongs to another family member or colleague), you must sign in to that computer with a valid username and password.

The Apple Screen Sharing feature uses a built-in VNC server, which means you can also use just about any VNC viewer app to connect to 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 connect.

Since you are sharing your screen locally, you should enjoy a relatively smooth experience. The screen resolution must be high enough so that you can see what you are doing.

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

Share your screen over the internet via iMessage

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

  1. Start a chat with the person you want to share your screen with.
  2. Click «Details» in the upper right corner of the chat window.
  3. In the overlay that appears, tap the Screen Share button (it looks like two overlapping rectangles) next to the person’s name.
  4. Click «Invite to Share My Screen» to share your screen, or «Ask to Share Screen» to see the other person’s screen.

Tap Invite to Screen or Ask Screen.

After the other person accepts your request, the FaceTime audio call begins. To allow another participant to control your Mac, click the Screen Sharing button in the menu bar, and then click Allow [контакту] control my screen.

Please note that you should never let anyone control your Mac unless you trust that person. To cancel control at any time, click the Screen Sharing button and disable this option.

Sharing your screen (or requesting access to someone else) over the Internet can test your patience. If both parties have a fast internet connection, 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 using Screen Sharing

To launch the built-in Mac Sharing app, press Command + Space to open Spotlight search, type «Screen Sharing» and press Enter.

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


Enter the other person’s Apple ID in the field and press Enter. Apple calculates the remainder of the last known IP address the Mac was using. iMessage is a good fallback for this, especially because it lets you chat 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? Luckily, this is fairly easy to do with a third-party remote desktop tool. There are many, but we recommend TeamViewer. It’s free for personal use, easy to use, available for most platforms, and you don’t need to register to use it.

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

Remote control menu in TeamViewer for Mac.

When you start TeamViewer, you will see a unique identification number and password. These credentials can be used to connect, view the screen, and control the Mac from a Windows or Linux computer, or even from a mobile device such as an iPhone, as long as it is associated with the TeamViewer app.

If you want to connect to a remote machine unattended, you must register with TeamViewer and then follow the instructions in the app to set up automatic access. After that, the application lists all shared computers and you can connect with one click.

Screen sharing just got easier

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

If you have set up remote access software (such as 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 want to set up in the same way, Microsoft also has a set of Windows-specific tools for screen sharing and managing remote computers.

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