Step-by-Step: How to remotely connect from an off-campus computer to an on-campus MacOS computer.

This document outlines how to connect to your on-campus Macintosh computer from an off-campus computer running Windows 10, MacOS, or Ubuntu Linux.

The software required is either built-in to the operating system or available as no-cost, open source software.

Prerequisites: You must have administrator access to both your on-campus MacOS computer and the off-campus computer from which you'll be connecting to your on-campus MacOS computer.  The on-campus MacOS computer must have a static IP address.  

1. Configure your MacOS computer to allow Screen Sharing.

Open up System Preferences from your launcher bar at the bottom of the screen


Select the Sharing utility

By default, Screen Sharing is disabled.

Click on the Screen Sharing check box in the list on the left-hand side of the dialog box.  The screen sharing options are changed using the Computer Settings button.

After clicking on the Computer Settings button, select the check box next to VNC viewers may control screen with password and enter a strong password on the password box at the right.  Then click the OK button.

After you set the password, the system will display the connection information you'll need to connect to the computer from off-campus.  

In our example below, note the vnc://  This is the information you'll need to connect from your off-campus computer.

Your MacOS computer computer is now configured to accept incoming remote connections.  

What is VNC, and why is this our choice for remotely connecting?

VNC are the initials for Virtual Network Computing.  VNC is open source software and therefore is available at no cost. 

As an open source package, there are many different "flavors" of VNC available.  We have chosen a package called TightVNC for our use on campus because it is well supported and robust.

N O T E :   VNC is not designed to be a secure application.  The version we use, TightVNC, does encrypt your password before sending it over the network.  However, all other traffic is not encrypted.  Therefore, it is important that you always establish a VPN connection to campus before using VNC.  If you have not already installed our campus VPN client on your off-campus computer, please refer to these knowledge base articles for instructions:

Windows VPN


OpenVPN for Linux (Look under the section titled "OpenVPN Clients for Your Computer"

2.  Install and configure VNC Viewer on your off-campus Windows computer.

Use the web browser of your choice to navigate to

Select the proper download for your version of WIndows.  If you are not certain which version of Windows you are running, please refer to How can I find if I am running 32 bit or 64 bit Windows 10? to find it.

When the download is complete, launch Windows File Manager and navigate to your downloads folder.

As with any file you download from the internet or receive as an attachment to an email, you must first scan the file with WIndows Security (Defender) to ensure that it is safe.  Right-click your mouse on the tightvnc installer file and select Scan with Windows Defender.

Windows Defender should report 0 threats found.

If Windows Defender reports that a threat was found, stop here and report the issue via a Virus report at

If no threat is found, close the Windows Defender window and return to Windows File Manager.  Double-click your mouse on the installer file.  

The following window will open.  Select Next.

Accept the license agreement and select Next.

TightVNC has both a server and a client component.  The client component is the application one uses to connect to a remote computer.  It is analogous to the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection client used to connect to Windows computers. The TightVNC client is known as VNC Viewer.

The server component is used for other computers to connect to the computer on which the server component is installed.  In most cases you don't want others to be able to connect to your computer, so we do not install the server component.

Selecting the "Typical" install results in both components being installed.  We will select "Custom"

In the custom setup dialog box, we want to prevent the "TightVNC Server" component from installing.

Click your mouse on the device icon to the left of TightVNC Server to open the context menu.

Select the Entire feature will be unavailable option, then click Next.

Leave the File associations box checked and click Next.

Click Install.

You are prompted to enter your administrator credentials.  If you are unsure about what they are or how to enter them, please refer to the "How to properly use an administrator account on a Microsoft Windows computer" knowledge base article.

Enter your administrator credentials and then click the Yes button.

The progress dialog box will pop open and display the progress of the install.

When the process is completed.  Click on the Finish button.


3.  Install and configure VNC Viewer on your off-campus MacOS or Ubuntu Linux computer.

Both MacOS and Ubuntu Linux come with a VNC Viewer already installed.  On MacOS, it is the Screen Sharing app.  On Ubuntu Linux, it is Remmina.  No install is required on either type of system.


4.  Connect to the campus network via VPN.

In order to reach your on-campus MacOS computer from off-campus, you must first connect to the campus network with our campus VPN utility.  If your off-campus computer is running MacOS or WIndows, you'll use Viscosity.  If your off-campus computer is running Ubuntu Linux, you'll use OpenVPN.

If you do not already have one of these VPN clients installed, please refer to the following links:

Install Viscosity on Windows

Install Viscosity on MacOS

Install OpenVPN on Ubuntu Linux (Look for the "OpenVPN for Linux" paragraph for instructions.)


5. Connect via VNC Viewer on a Windows computer.

Click on the Windows icon in the lower left-hand corner of the screen and select TightVNC Viewer on the menu.

The TightVNC Viewer Connection dialog will open.  Enter the IP address of the on-campus computer and click on the "Connect" button.

Enter the password you created when you enabled Screen Sharing on the on-campus MacOS computer earlier.

You are presented with the MacOS logon screen. 

Follow the normal logon procedure for MacOS.

Your MacOS remote session will open in a scaled Window.

You can change the display setting from the menu bar at the top of the VNC Viewer window

The highlighted options above are, left-to-right: Zoom in, Zoom out, Zoom to 100%, Switch to Full Screen.

To disconnect your session, simply close the VNC Viewer application.  

N O T E :   When you disconnect, VNC Viewer does not automaticaly lock your on-campus MacOS computer.  Before disconnecting, use the normal MacOS lock procedure to secure your on-campus MacOS computer.


6. Connect via Remmina VNC Viewer on Ubuntu Linux.

Ubuntu Linux version 18.04 is the currently support Linux version on campus.  Remmina is a common VNC Viewer client included in many standard installatins of other Linux versions.  These instructions may also be valid for those other Linux versions with some inference on your part. 

Click on the "Activities" link at the upper left-hand corner of the Ubuntu desktop.

Search for "Remmina" in the search field at the top, center of the screen.  Click on the Remmina icon.

Remmina is a multi-protocol remote access client.  When you launch it, it will default to the RDP protocol used by Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection.  

Change the prototcol to VNC

Enter the IP address of the on-campus MacOS computer in the field to the right of the protocol selection.

Press the <ENTER> key to initiate the connection.  You are presented with the logon dialog.  

Enter your MacOS user name for the on-campus MacOS computer and enter the Screen Sharing password you created when you enabled screen sharing earlier.  Ten click the OK button.

The remote connection will open in a new window.

Display properties can be adjusted using the Remmina toolbar running vertically along the left-hand edge of the window.

To disconnect your session, click on the Disconnect icon on the Remmina toolbar.

N O T E :   When you disconnect, Remmina does not automaticaly lock your on-campus MacOS computer.  Before disconnecting, use the normal MacOS lock procedure to secure your on-campus MacOS computer.


7. Connect via Screen Sharing from a MacOS computer.

From your off-campus MacOS computer, use the MacOS search tool to find Screen

Double-click your mouse on the icon on the right-hand side of the dialog box or in the Top Hit list on the left-hand side of the dialog to launch it.

Enter the IP address of your on-campus MacOS computer and click the Connect button.

Enter your on-campus MacOS computer account credentials.

Your session will connect and you'll see your MacOS computer's desktop.  You can use the Scaling icons to change the display dimensions.

When you are ready to disconnect, simply close the Screen sharing application.

N O T E :   When you disconnect, the MacOS Screen Sharing application does not automaticaly lock your on-campus MacOS computer.  Before disconnecting, use the normal MacOS lock procedure to secure your on-campus MacOS computer.

dkearney 2020.04.27


Article ID: 106126
Fri 4/24/20 4:06 PM
Wed 9/2/20 2:04 PM