The 11 Best VNC Apps for Your Mac

If you have both a laptop and a desktop Mac, you probably know the pains of grabbing your laptop, heading to the local coffee house and searching for an app on your MacBook only to realize that it’s only installed on your desktop. This usually requires you to head home with your coffee and work from there, right? Wrong. If you’re router is properly configured, you can still grab anything you need from your home computer thanks to Virtual Network Computing, or VNC.

VNC allows users to remotely control their Mac or PC from another device. While all Macs have a built-in VNC host which can be activated under the Screen Sharing options in System Preferences, you’ll need to download your own VNC viewer, or client, to your laptop or other Mac that you would like to use to control your home computer. Luckily for you, the App Store is filled with different VNC viewers, each of which bring individual luxuries to the table. Below, we’ve compiled the best of the best in order to help you make the best decision when purchasing a VNC viewer.

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Splashtop

Splashtop

Splashtop is an interesting option as it doesn’t utilize a standard form of VNC, so before purchasing this app, make sure to install the Splashtop Streamer app which is free for both Mac and PC. Because of this proprietary form of VNC, depending on your connection, Splashtop allows you to stream HD videos and even play 3D games remotely from another Mac. This is great for gamers who want to want to game on the go, but can’t lug their gaming rig with them. Splashtop is even optimized for some graphics cards, allowing for low latency gaming.

Splashtop is more of a personal VNC viewer, meaning that you probably wouldn’t use it to manage a fleet of company Macs or to manage a small remote support small business. Another thing that makes Splashtop a good choice as a personal VNC viewer is its wide variety of mobile apps. Splashtop has apps for Android, iOS and even HP’s WebOS and RIM’s PlayBook OS.

Price: $6.99 On Sale, Regularly $19.99
Requires: OS X 10.6+
Developer: Splashtop Inc.

Apple Remote Desktop

Apple Remote Desktop

If you plan on making money doing remote tech support for Mac users, Apple Remote Desktop is for you. Apple Remote Desktop allows users to deploy Macs remotely and even create hardware and software reports. However, what we’re really here for is the remote assistance, right? Apple’s Remote Desktop surely doesn’t slack here as not only can you observe and control other Macs, but you can easily transfer files between Macs, copy-and-paste between multiple Macs and even connect to PCs and Linux machines via a standard VNC connection. And while the price may be a bit steep at a penny under $80, it’ll most likely pay itself off overtime.

Price: $79.99
Requires: OS X 10.7+
Developer: Apple

iTeleport

iTeleport: VNC & RDP

iTeleport is one of the cleanest Mac VNC apps I’ve ever seen. When you first launch the app, you’re brought to a simple start screen which shows you all active computers which you’ve added to the app. When you click on the Mac, PC or Linux machine you’d like to control, you’re “teleported” to it and can use your remote machine as if you were sitting right in front of it as iTeleport supports OS X’s intuitive multitouch gestures. iTeleport can also help you configure your machine to be controlled anywhere in the world, not just via a LAN connection, with their free iTeleport Connect app available through their website.

Price: $9.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6+
Developer: iTeleport VNC

Remotix

Remotix

Remotix is the perfect VNC client for those of us who own multiple Macs and iOS devices. This is because Remotix features iCloud integration which is used to sync your VNC server information between all of your Macs and iOS devices that have Remotix installed. Other than that, Remotix is a pretty simple VNC client which features a clean interface. Remotix apparently features hardware accelerated rendering as well, so you can free up your CPU for other intensive tasks.

Price: $24.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6+
Developer: Nulana LTD

Jump Desktop

Jump Desktop

Jump Desk is perfect for those of you who will be controlling multiple machines via VNC. Why? Because with Jump Desktop, you’ll instantly be brought to a screen where you can view live previews of each machine you have setup via VNC or RDP through Jump Desktop. Jump Desktop’s interface is also pleasing as it’s extremely minimal. Jump Desktop is also optimized for the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, so you can be sure that Jump Desktop will be future proofed for all of your future Mac purchases.

Price: $29.99
Requires: OS X 10.6+
Developer: Phase Five Systems

Desktop Connect

Desktop Connect

While Desktop Connect doesn’t feature a stellar interface or any other bells and whistles offered by its competitors, it does have one major upside: the price. Since Desktop Connect is priced at only $14.99, you’re looking at a price point that is almost half of its competitors like Jump Desktop. However, if you do decide to purchase Desktop Connect, I really hope you’re not a design freak. Desktop Connect’s user interface is definitely less than stellar as it features odd fonts and non-consistent button styles.

Price: $14.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6+
Developer: Antecea

Easy Remote Desktop

Easy Remote Desktop

Coming in at only $0.99, Easy Remote Desktop may be an instant purchase for some. This status bar application promises to allow you to connect to your Macs in seconds and has some premium features like drag-and-drop file sharing between Macs as well as fullscreen mode. However, if you decide to purchase this app for yourself, don’t expect it to last long. Why? Simple: the developer’s website is down and, according to reviews, the developer isn’t providing support for the app.

Price: $0.99
Requires: OS X 10.6+
Developer: iSharebox

JollyFastVNC

JollyFastVNC Pro

Aside from the awesome name, JollyFastVNC Pro promises to be the fastest and most secure VNC viewer for the Mac. They’re not lying either as JollyFastVNC Pro supports SSH Tunneling, SOCKS and SSL right out of the box. JollyFastVNC is also the most compatible VNC viewer as it’s compatible with both IPv4 and IPv6 connections and allows you to wake up your remote computers using wake on LAN. Last and surely not least, JollyFastVNC’s user interface is stellar and takes very little time to get used to.

Price: $29.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6+
Developer: Patrick Stien

Remote Desktop - VNC

Remote Desktop – VNC

If all you want to do is control a single computer, here’s your free and simple solution: Remote Desktop. The application is about as simple at its name as all the app allows you to do is connect to your remote machines on either your home network or over a VPN. The application doesn’t really have a user interface apart from a simple dialog box you’re greeted with which is used to input your remote computer’s VNC address. But honestly, for free, what do you expect?

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.7+, 64-bit Processor
Developer: iSolute – Berlin

Light Screen Sharing

Light Screen Sharing

If you’re looking for a cheap yet full featured VNC viewer, here’s your go. Coming in at only $1.99, Light Screen Sharing allows users to connect to remote Macs via Back To My Mac as well as via VNC. Light Screen Sharing lives in your status bar, so you’re always a click away from all of your remote machines. Light Screen Sharing also includes many premium features too, as Light Screen Sharing allows you to copy-and-paste between machines as well as drag-and-drop files between computers.

Price: $1.99
Requires: OS X 10.6+, 64-bit processor
Developer: Mediaware, s.r.o.

And one more from our editor…

Screens VNC

Perhaps not as well known on the Mac, Screens is the VNC app I’ve used for years now on my iPad, and it’s equally great on the mac. It features a custom interface that looks more like an Apple app than most business-like VNC apps, showing your remote computers with a large desktop screenshot on a canvas background. But it offers more than just good looks: Screens works very good as well. It’ll find local Macs and let you easily connect to them, and runs fast enough that it almost feels native. Best of all, you can use their free Screens Connect service to make your home Mac available anywhere.

Price: $29.99
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later, free account for Screens Connect
Developer: Endovia

Conclusion

So there you have it, the top eleven VNC viewers for Mac. When choosing the best VNC viewer for yourself, remember to make sure that the one you’re purchasing fulfills your specific needs. For instance, if you’re just helping your grandmother with her new MacBook, you probably won’t need Apple Remote Desktop; however, if you’re looking to start your own remote support side-business, you may want to look into a more premium option. If you have a favorite remote VNC viewer, tell us what it is in the comments!


  • choise

    what about the built-in one? simple, easy, fast, free, no install?!

    `you’ll need to download your own VNC viewer, or client` no

    simply: finder- > go to -> connect with server -> “vnc://YOURHOST” -> connect -> done

    you can also create a shortcut if you enter the vnc:// address in your safari and drag it onto your desk

    • alfanick

      I was writing same thing… People create useless apps because devs don’t know OS they are developing for or they know that users don’t know their OS.

      • choise

        and editors also don’t know about it ;)

    • http://palobo.tumblr.com Pedro Lobo

      Playing the Devil’s Advocate here and because this is something I’ve experienced first hand. While the the built in VNC viewer may be great in a pinch, it’s far from an ideal solution for anybody that has to manage/connect to a fleet of Machines (as is my case).

      The built in viewer also has a limited range of compatibility when it comes to connecting to clients that aren’t Mac OS. It doesn’t support MS Credential authentication nor does it support some of the later VNC servers (I’ve experienced problems connecting to some of the more recent versions of Ultra VNC for example).

      Having said that, those familiar with it, you’ll be happy to know that Remoter now has a Mac app too.

  • Aliasgar Babat

    Great article regarding various remote desktop tools for MAC computers such as Splashtop, Apple remote desktop etc. In addition to above tools, one can even consider deploying on premise remote support appliance such as Bomgar or RHUB appliances in order to remotely access MAC or Windows computers from anywhere.

  • Andras

    Another huge plus for the built-in vnc viewer in Mountain Lion is the fact that it supports OS level full screen support – thus allowing you to do four finger swiping between your own desktop and any number of connected vnc sessions. Not sure if some of the other paid solutions support this…

  • Sam Lim

    Your article was quite helpful. I have a further question. My kids are on their Macbooks all day for school work. I don’t think their are very efficient because they are multi-tasking: chatting, games, etc. simultaneously with their school work. I am interested in an App that will allow me to see or “mirror” what they are doing on another Ipad or computer. That we can monitor their computer activity.

    Can you please help me?

    • gray

      @sam

      i would rather use the built-in parental control functions, so they can only use or open certain apps or websites etc.

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