How to VNC from an iPad or iPhone to a Mac for Easy Remote Access
Following up about Screen Sharing in OS X, which lets you remote control a Mac from another Mac, you can also remotely access and control Macs from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using VNC. There is minimal work involved to get this working, and if you already set up Screen Sharing you’re halfway there. A variety of paid solutions offer the same abilities described here, but we’ll show you how to do this completely for free and have it working in just a minute or two.
- First things first, turn on Screen Sharing on the Mac if you haven’t done so by going to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Sharing and checking the box for “Screen Sharing”
- From the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, grab Mocha VNC Lite from the App Store, it’s a free VNC client
- Launch Mocha VNC Lite in iOS and tap “Configure”
- Look for “VNC server address” and tap the (>) blue arrow button to locate a local Mac, or enter the IP address of the Mac to connect to
- Look for “Mac OS X user ID” and enter the login ID, then enter the password in the field below
- Now back to the main Mocha VNC menu and tap “Connect” to connect to the Mac just configured
- A gray screen saying “Connecting” will appear before the VNC session is established, in a moment the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch will gain control over the Mac screen
Controlling the Mac can be done with tapping, touch, tap and hold, and other mostly obvious gestures. Summon a keyboard to work on the Mac by tapping the keyboard icon in the Mocha VNC menu bar.
How usable the remote screen sharing is going to depend significantly on connection speeds, and any connection over a LAN or high speed broadband will be much more usable than a connection from an iPhone or iPad out on a 3G connection trying to VNC back home. Also, Mac OS X is a desktop OS and obviously not built for touch, so it can be a bit clunky to attempt anything too serious with the controls as is.
Finally, a potential hiccup if you want to remotely access the Mac from the outside world comes with firewalls and routers, each of which may block the VNC ports 5900 and 5800 from the outside world. Because of the wide variety of routers out there, allowing forwarding to those ports is beyond the scope of this walkthrough, but you should be able to do it quickly yourself. The port forwarding issue will not impact connections made on the local network, and some routers will automatically forward the port by default making this a nonissue.