Screen Sharing on a 2019 Mac: No Downloads Necessary

January 15, 2019

The digital age has created an intense demand for computers in the business world.

Personal computers are a near staple in most businesses, as is the demand for connectivity and collaboration. In offices, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single employee that doesn’t have a desktop computer or laptop attached to their employee ID.

A particularly important trend is the increase in Mac computers in both the general population and workforce. Per Statista, the market share of Mac OS (operating system) has increased from 7.95 percent in 2013 to 12.52 percent in 2018. This chips Microsoft’s Windows OS down from holding 90.96 percent of the market to 82.88 percent (with the remaining ground going to Linux, Chrome and other operating systems). This can be seen throughout the business world as well, as companies are increasingly offering Apple computers to their employees instead of Windows-based computers.

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Importance of screen sharing

As the Mac OS adoption rate continues to increase, the need for functional knowledge of the OS will also continue to rise. Screen sharing is a particularly important function, in both the personal and business realms, for a few reasons:

With these benefits in mind, let’s take a look at how Mac operating systems give users a way to share their screens without needing to download other software.

TIP: Learn how to screenshot on a Mac.

How to Screen Share on Mac

First things first, you’re going to use the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen to launch System Preferences.



In System Preferences, find the Sharing folder.



Once in the Sharing folder, you’ll want to find the “Screen Sharing” option on the left-hand side of the window under the Service list.



 Now, there are a few limiting factors that you can set in place for someone to connect to your Mac computer. Select the “Computer Settings…” button, and you should get a flyout from the top bar of the window.



These additional settings help you control how secure your screen share is. For basic control, you can choose to simply grant permission via the “Allow access for” option beneath the “Computer Settings…” button, using the “+” and “-” buttons to add or remove specific users. But, if you want to broaden or tighten that scope, you can use the flyout.

Set your user sharing preferences as you’re comfortable, and then check the “On” box for the “Screen Sharing” service to enable it. “Screen Sharing: Off” should change to “Screen Sharing: On,” and the gray circle to the left of that text should turn green.



Once enabled, simply copy the “vnc://IP Address/” piece into your browser navigation bar and press “Return” (Mac OS) or “Enter” (Windows – keep in mind that you don’t have to be on a computer of the same OS type to remotely connect to the computer). This should open a VNC (virtual network computing) window to confirm the IP address.



Press “Connect” and you should get a login prompt (if your screen sharing user access configurations are set for logins). Log in as though you’d be logging into the device itself. If your credentials are correct, you’ll be greeted with a full, multi-monitor (if applicable) view of the device.


 Thank you to fellow researcher Mike Gigante for lending me your screen.

Note that there are several options in the top left-hand corner of the window once connected. You can:

  • Set your “Control” option to either viewing the device or actively taking over control
  • Set “Scaling” to be either full size or windowed
  • View the “Clipboard” contents for the device
  • Dictate the “Display” options for how you’d like to view the device

If you’re on the same network as the computer whose screen you’re wanting to share, you don’t have to use the IP address in order to view. Simply look in your Finder window sidebar for the name of the Apple computer in question and click to connect to it.

That’s it! You’re now screen sharing with a Mac device.

TIP: Learn how to transfer files from PC to PC.

More Screen Share Notes

The screen share method we used here is what is known as an operating-system-based or OS-based screen share. No third-party software was required; all we needed was the functionality built into the Mac OS itself. If you’re wanting to look outside of what’s provided by the operating system, check out remote desktop software or remote support software, depending on your needs.

Additionally, if you’re going to be viewing another user’s screen — especially if you’re taking over their device — be aware of your actions. While it is the responsibility of the screen sharer to be mindful of what’s visible, the user accessing another device should show respect for their privacy. View only what the sharing user intends to share, and do not look for anything else without their express permission.

Screen sharing is valuable as a tool for increased productivity between team members. It also holds immense potential for support teams in assisting end users. Find the need that screen sharing may meet, and take full advantage of it.

Want to know what’s trending in tech in 2019? Check out our Digital Trends for everything you want to know going into the new year.

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