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Friday, October 17, 2008

How-To: Screen sharing with OS X 10.4

Many users with two computers take advantage of the screen sharing features in Mac OS X to manage both computers. This is a convenient feature that was introduced in Mac OS X 10.5, but users who still have 10.4 installed on one of their computers have experience issues when trying to connect.

Apple Discussions poster writes: ima_ipod:

"I have 10.5.5 on my eMac, and i have 10.4 on my ibook. I want to use screen sharing to access the ibook. When the ibook shows up in finder, it tries to auto connect, but then disappears... I can log in as an account through thnetwork on my emac, but there is no option available for screen sharing."

It may seem that if a computer has Mac OS X 10.5 installed that it should be able to view the screen of another computer, but as with File Sharing and other network services, the screen sharing requires a client as well as a server to send the information. Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger can achieve screen sharing, but it is not installed by default, and as such users will not see options to set up screen sharing in Tiger's Sharing system preferences.

There are several options users can install in Tiger to enable screen sharing.

Screen Sharing Clients

The first item required for a Tiger system to view the screen of another Mac is a VNC-compatible client. One client that has worked well on the Mac is the freeware "Chicken of the VNC" program. This software package can locate VNC servers on the local network via Bonjour networking, and should serve Tiger users well.

Screen Sharing Servers In addition to a VNC client, which is just a standalone application like a web browser, users can also install a VNC server to allow the Tiger screen to be viewed on Leopard servers as well as with other VNC clients. A robust open source server is the Vine server. This package will install a VNC server that has a convenient GUI configuration utility.

Apple's Solutions While the aforementioned solutions are free, Apple has a software package called "Remote Desktop", which incorporates a client and server in the same package. In addition to screen sharing capabilities, it also offers many more options such as file transfer and screen locking. Users can read more at the Apple website. This solution is very robust and has a lot of features, but it is pricey and as such users might prefer to just upgrade to 10.5 for about half the price.

Limitations While Screen Sharing can be enabled in Mac OS X 10.4 with the solutions mentioned above, users will not have access to the other screen sharing benefits offered in Leopard. For instance, iChat screen sharing will not work, and users will not be able to use Back To My Mac screen sharing.

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