How do I get Apple Remote Desktop and Windows VNC working together?
July 27, 2005 2:59 AM   Subscribe

How do I access, configure, and support Apple's Remote Desktop on OS X from VNC and Windows?

I need to support my Mom's OSX iBook from another state. I don't have a cheap phone (pre-paid cell only, guh) and I can only do so much and explain so much and type so much through IM before it's pointless.

I need access to her desktop. Not having an OS X machine locally, I can only remember so much about where everything is. I'm going freakin' nuts and my wrists are hurting from all the typing.

Does Apple Remote Desktop allow logins from VNC? Does it even allow WAN-side access at all? How do I configure it remotely? What ports need to be opened on the firewall(s), if any? Can I tunnel through SSH to Remote Desktop w/ VNC? Any remotely related information is appreciated. heh, pun not intended

With something working like Skype or iChat AV and Apple's Remote Desktop, I know I can do a lot more support in a fraction of the time and teach her a lot more through demonstration, because she's a visual learner.

For the purposes of this question, let's assume (fictionally) that I've at least managed to SSH login remotely to her administrative account. So scripts and command line instructions are ok, even if I have to walk her through pasting SUDO'ed command strings over IM or voice.

Secondary: Do you support your family's computers? How do you help them teach themselves, OS X or not?
posted by loquacious to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am, at this moment, controlling OSX through VNC on windows (although both my machines are on the same network). So it is possible...

The starting point is turning on VNC access (if your mom has 10.4) by going to System Preferences > Sharing > select Apple Remote Desktop > click 'Access Privileges and then checking the 'VNC viewers may access with a password' box and supplying a password.

As for getting across networks and the internet, I might leave that bit to someone more knowledgable...
posted by skinnyjimmy at 3:24 AM on July 27, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks. Now at least I know VNC access works theoretically. But I think she has 10.2. Are you using Remote Desktop 2.0?
posted by loquacious at 3:37 AM on July 27, 2005

Best answer: Try installing Os X VNC.
posted by apathy0o0 at 3:47 AM on July 27, 2005

Best answer: I control OSX via VNC, leaving Apple Remote Desktop out of it. I don't know if OsX VNC (linked above) will work with 10.2, but that's exactly what I'm doing. VNC server on the Mac, VNC client on the windows system.

The Os X VNC installer is point-and-click, then it pops up a control panel from which all she should need to do is enter a password (for you to use) and hit "Start Server". You shouldn't need (her) to muck about on the command line, if I recall correctly.

You can also tunnel VNC across ssh for (some) added security.
posted by sohcahtoa at 4:19 AM on July 27, 2005

I've found it's often handy to get the other party to IM/email screenshots taken with apple-shift-3 to see what they're up to. It might make your life much easier till you can get VNC installed.

You can also mark up the screenshots with arrows or whatever telling them what to do and send those back.
posted by edd at 4:31 AM on July 27, 2005

with 10.2, the remote desktop client isn't built-in. In which case, it is probably worth going with OSX VNC, as suggested by apathy0o0 (and there are plenty more vnc servers to try too!).
posted by skinnyjimmy at 6:10 AM on July 27, 2005

I highly recommend using Apple Remote Desktop Client 2.2 software. It integrates with the OS better than other solutions and is thus easier to configure. I've walked a few people through the simple configuration steps over the phone with good success.

Once it's installed, go into the Sharing System Preferences, check the Apple Remote Desktop item, click the Access Privileges button, then check the VNC option and assign a password to it.

Now all you have to do is figure out the Mac's IP address.
posted by pmbuko at 10:54 AM on July 27, 2005

forgot to mention the client is free to download, but requires Mac OS 10.2.8 or later.
posted by pmbuko at 10:57 AM on July 27, 2005

Best answer: I use OSXVnc rather than Apple Remote Desktop because it lets me set the number of colors to a much lower setting, thus improving responsiveness by a large degree. In OSXVNC, you just go into the Profile manager, click the Color tab for the default profile, and change it to 256. (You could also just create a profile identical to the Default, name it "Faster," and change just the color setting.)

Usually the ports you need to open on her firewall or router are 5800 and 5900. It's easy to do this, as long as she has a fixed IP address on her computer, by simply redirecting all incoming requests for ports 5800 and 5900 to her LAN IP address. I can see, though, that this particularl setp would be quite difficult to do from afar (unless remote administration is enabled, which it isn't by default).

Then, you should register for a dynamic DNS host name (I use, which only takes a few moments, install the OS X client on her computer, help her configure it (very easy, using the settings you used at, and then, every time she needs your help, she first launches, which will then map her current LAN's one WAN IP address to a host name, and then she launches OSXVnc. Then, all you have to do is use the host name in your VNC client and you should see her computer screen.

More info here.

I use VNC to work with a couple of very unsavvy editors. It works very, very well.
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:55 AM on July 27, 2005

every time she needs your help, she first launches ... and then she launches OSXVnc.

Better yet, you take the five seconds to write an AppleScript to do those things for her, save it as "Let loquacious help me!" and tell her to open that.
posted by kindall at 12:47 PM on July 27, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks tons everyone. This opened up some possibilities that I hadn't even considered.

I also hadn't even thought about getting her to send me screenshots. I guess I'm stubborn, and just want to be able to remember where everything is and what it looks like off the top of my head - I've sent people screenshots, but never requested them.
posted by loquacious at 9:53 PM on July 27, 2005

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