There may come a time when you need to give someone access to your Mac screen, either so that they can help you repair or resolve a problem, or so that you can show them something you are working on. Mac screen sharing allows users to view, and control the screen of another Mac remotely.

Screen sharing is built into Mac computers, and can be accessed from the Sharing preference panel. This screen sharing capability is based on the virtual network computing (VNC) protocol, which means that any computer with a VNC client installed can view your screen, regardless of whether the remote computer is a Mac, or Windows based machine.

There are also some third-party screen sharing programs that you can use to share your Mac screen with others. Below, you will find out how to set up a screen share from your Mac’s resources and from some of the more popular third-party services.

How to Set Up Screen Sharing on Mac in System Preferences

screen share in mac in system preferences

There are two ways to set up screen sharing on a Mac. One is known simply as Screen Sharing, and the other is named Remote Management. Both use the same system to allow screen sharing. The difference is that the Remote Management method includes support for Apple’s Remote Desktop application, which is used in many commercial machines. This article is going to focus on the basic Screen sharing option, which is used by most home, and small business users.

Setting it Up

  • Launch System Preferences by either selecting it from the Apple menu or clicking the System Preferences icon in the Dock.
  • In the System Preferences window, click on the Sharing preference pane.
  • Check the box next to the Screen Sharing service.
  • Click on the Computer Settings button.
  • Check the box next to ‘VNC viewers may control screen with password,’ in the Settings pane.
  • Enter a secure password that can be used when a remote user tries to connect to your Mac.
  • Click ‘OK.’
  • Next you will need to choose which users can access your Mac’s screen. You can choose ‘All Users’ or ‘Only these users.’  Users refer to the Mac users who are on your local network.
  • If you choose ‘Only these users,’ you will need to use the plus button (+) to add users to the list.
  • When you are finished choosing users, you have successfully set up Screen Sharing and can close the Sharing preference pane.

Once you have enabled screen sharing, other computers on your local network will be able to access the desktop on your Mac.

How to Remotely Connect to a Mac Desktop Using Finder

Finder to screenshare

There are many ways to access another Mac desktop. However, the most common method is to use the Finders Connect to Server menu, which is located under the Go menu (on menu bar at top of screen). To make a remote connection, you will need to do the following:

  1. Ensure that Finder is the leading  application by clicking in a Finder window or clicking on the Desktop.
  2. Choose ‘Connect to Server’ from the Finder’s Go menu.
  3. In this window, either enter the network name or the address of the Mac you want to connect to in this format: vnc://numeric.address.ofthe.mac (Example: vnc:// Or vnc://MacsName (where MacsName is the network name of the Mac you want to connect to).
  4. Click on the Connect button.
  5. You may be asked for a name and password, depending on how Screen Sharing was set up. If you are asked for login information, enter the appropriate details and click Connect.
  6. A new window will open that displays the remote Mac’s desktop.

Once you move your mouse into that window, you will be able to interact with the remote desktop as though you were sitting in front of that computer.

How to Share Your Mac Desktop with iChat

screen share in ichat

Another way to remotely connect to another Mac is to use Apple’s instant messaging client iChat. This application has a feature that allows you to share your Mac desktop with anyone on your iChat bjuddy list. To do this simply:

  1. Launch iChat if it is not already running.
  2. Once the iChat window is open, select the buddy you want to share your screen with.
  3. Choose Buddies, Share My Screen With (buddy name).
  4. A status window will open giving you a message stating that it is waiting for a response from your buddy.
  5. As soon as your buddy has accepted the request, you will see a box that says ‘Screen Sharing with (buddy’s name),’ the box will disappear quickly, and your buddy will be able to remotely view your desktop.
  6. When someone shares your desktop, they have the exact rights as you. They are able to move, copy, and delete files, or they can launch or stop applications, and alter screen preferences. Because of this, you should not share your screen with someone uless you trust them.
  7. To end screen sharing with iChat, simply select Buddies, End Screen Sharing.

How to View a Buddy’s Screen with iChat

  1. Launch the iChat application.
  2. In the iChat window, select the buddy who’s Mac you want to view.
  3. Select Buddies, Ask to Share (your buddy’s name) Screen.
  4. A request will automatically be sent to your buddy asking for screen sharing permissions.
  5. If they accept, your desktop will reduce down to thumbnail size, and their desktop will open in a larger window.
  6. You can then work in your buddy’s desktop as though you were sitting in front of their Mac.
  7. To quit viewing your buddy’s desktop, switch to your own, then select Buddies, End Screen Sharing, or simply click the close button on the view of your buddy’s desktop.

Third-Party Ways to Share Your Mac’s Screen

There are some third-party ways to share your screen on your Mac, such as Google Hangout, Skype or JoinMe. All of these services are free, but there are some extra features you can add in Skype or JoinMe for a price.

JoinMe: To use screen sharing with JoinMe you can share the link they give you or even give them a phone number to dial into to join the conversation if they cannot join the screen.There service is free or you can upgrade to a monthly package for additional features.

Skype: To use the screen sharing in Skype, connect with the person you wish to Skype with and then go to your top menu bar and click on Conversations. You will see “Share Screen” and it should be higlighted. You are allowed to share your screen with one person. If you wish to share it with a group you will have to pay for a package with Skype.

screen share on mac with skype

Google+ Hangouts: lets you video chat or screen share with one person or have a multiway video chat and share screen with up to 9 other people. To start a hangout from Gmail, Google+, iGoogle, orkut, or Chrome OS simply:

screen share on mac with google hangouts

  1. Select the contact you want to chat with in your Chat list.
  2. Click the Hangouts icon  at the top of the Chat window.
  3. Your contact will receive a Hangouts invite in their Chat window. Once they accept your invite, you both can start hanging out and even invite up to 8 more people to join you!

You can also just go to to start a Google+ Hangout.


50 Kimberly Carver

Kimberly Carver is a trained Mac Specialist/Expert. Trained both in school and on the job she continues to educate herself about Macs at every opportunity she gets. Kim’s official training and areas of expertise include: Mac specialist, AOL IT Tech, certified paralegal, research specialist, and licensed private investigator.