top of page

Set up your computer for remote viewing

Updated: Apr 26, 2018

Have an office but don't want to be shackled to a desk? Remotely view and control your desktop from your laptop!

Set up remote Access your Ubuntu desktop from a Mac laptop

1. Install the x11vnc server program onto your ubuntu desktop

a. Open a terminal and type the command: sudo apt install x11vnc

b. Enter your password to confirm the installation

2. Create a password for x11vnc. This should be done so that no unauthorized parties can access your desktop remotely.

a. In the terminal window, type the command: x11vnc -storepasswd

b. Enter and verify your password that will be stored on your local system

3. Test x11vnc and find your local port number

a. In the terminal window, type: x11vnc -usepw

b. Note the four digit port number, which is listed in the information output into the terminal window. The outputted line will look like, for example: PORT=5902

4. Find your desktop's port number and IP address

a. On the menu bar at the top right of the screen, there is a button with two little arrows

b. Click that button, and navigate to "Connection Information"

c. Note the 10 digit IP address of your local network, for example:

Transfer to your Mac laptop now

5. Download "Real VNC Viewer"

a. a link to the download website can be found here

b. Install VNC Viewer on your mac laptop by double clicking the installer in your Downloads file

6. Configure your connection

a. Open VNC Viewer and click on File > New connection

b. In the box next to "VNC server", type in the IP address noted earlier and port number,


c. Give the connection a name to make it easier to find later

d. Leave everything else the default values, and click "OK" at the bottom of the box

Now that your connection is set up:

Use Remote Desktop from your Mac Laptop

1. If you are connecting from a different network, you must first establish a network connection to your university or place of work. For example, if you work at UA, use the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Client to connect to Information on how to set this up can be found here.

2. On your laptop, use the terminal to ssh into your ubuntu computer

3. Prepare your computer for remote viewing by typing into the terminal: x11vnc -usepw

a. Enter your password

4. Open VNC Viewer, and click the icon for your ubuntu computer

a. A dialog box will appear warning that your connection will not be encrypted, click


b. Enter the password you set earlier on your ubuntu system

5. Enjoy accessing your ubuntu system full screen from your macbook!

6. When finished, close the viewer by clicking the "x" in the toolbar that appears if you hover your mouse near the top of the screen.

a. If you used a vpn connection, remember to close it

bottom of page