When I connect from my laptop to my server with Apple Screen Sharing, it is extremely laggy, even over gigabit ethernet.

Files copy at expected speeds (~100MB/s) but Screen Sharing is terribly slow.

Any way to speed this up?

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    I'm not sure if this is normal, but I think screen sharing is always slow, no matter the ethernet speed. Either that, or I have the same problem. +1 to attract attention. – woff Oct 22 '14 at 18:51
  • @Ze'ev If you're using the Windows RDP experience as a baseline, they're just not comparable. – Louis Waweru Oct 23 '14 at 4:19

Some (all?) Macs when run without a monitor turn off the video circuitry so they do not waste energy, even though this circuitry is used by screen sharing to dramatically speed up screen stuff.

There might be a way to turn this circuitry back on through software, but I have not foud a reliable way to do so. What works very well is to plug in something into a video port to get the Mac to think it has a monitor connected.

You can build one yourself: https://macminicolo.net/blog/files/build-a-dummy-dongle-for-a-headless-mac-mini.html

Buy one to plug into a HDMI port on some MacMinis: https://macminicolo.net/blog/files/an-hdmi-adapter-for-a-headless-mac-mini.html

Buy one to plug into the MiniDisplay Port: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/CBLMDPHEAD/

Instructions for a resistor added directly to the video card: http://blog.zorinaq.com/?e=11

I picked up a handful of the HDMI ones a while back, they are very useful.

A similar question/answer is at Force the resolution on a headless mac mini server

  • Aha! That makes sense. But there must be a way to trick the system into thinking it's got a monitor via software? The server is a Hackintosh, BTW. – Dan Oct 23 '14 at 15:29
  • I wish. I tried various things, including airsquirrels.com/airparrot which some have claimed does the trick when it adds its virtual monitor driver stuff, but I was unable to see any real improvements, certainly none as large as those that happened when I plugged in a dongle. Try screen sharing with a Mac that has a monitor attached and you'll see the difference - smooth as silk as they say. – j-beda Oct 23 '14 at 16:17
  • If your server has a DVI output, you might be able to get by with just plugging in a single resistor in the approriate holes in the video card. I have seen reference to people using a paper-clip. blog.zorinaq.com/?e=11 – j-beda Oct 23 '14 at 16:20
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    It looks like it wants around 75 ohms, but people report it working with a variety of resistances. The zorinaq link has someone who claims it is pretty safe even with a paperclip, but getting a resistor and taping the leads so they don't short would probably be safest. – j-beda Oct 23 '14 at 16:28
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    SUCCESS!! I used 3 staples. See above. – Dan Oct 23 '14 at 17:02

Suggest that you try alternate screen sharing systems. Chicken of the VNC is one option. TeamViewer is another option. (http://teamviewer.com)

I have had reasonable response using teamviewer over a satellite link to a remote machine running windows on the other side of the continent. Not instantaneous. But given that every round trip packet involved 160,000 km of microwave...

  • Already tried both of those; no better. – Dan Oct 23 '14 at 15:29

If you can't go the hardware route, here is my software-only workaround:

Use the Automator to create a trivial bash job:

  • Launch Automator.
  • Choose to create an Application.
  • Select Run Shell Script from the Actions list - the Run Shell Script edit field will display on the right side.
  • Select Shell: /bin/bash (it may already be the default)
  • Type sleep 999999 into the script entry area.
  • From the menu select File -> Export... and enter SpeedUpScreenSharing (or a name of your choice) in the Export As: field, and Save it.

Now you can run it like you would any other application. It will run forever with a little gear icon that appears in the status area of the menu bar. Whatever the reason is, it seems to help make my old macbook pro more responsive. It isn't super zippy, but it gave me a significant speedup - YMMV.


The answer is simple, stop using Screen Sharing and get Apple Desktop Remote. Apple Desktop Remote App is as fast as Microsoft Desktop Remote. Screen sharing is not the same and quite slow and choppy and presumably intended for occasional usage as opposed to ADR which is for serious use such as headless displays and file transfers.

  • Apple Remote Desktop is also based on VNC and has the same problems as Screen sharing, as far as I can tell. Do you have some more information? – O'Rooney Jan 19 at 22:28
  • I use ADR daily as I do Microsoft Remote Desktop and so base my comment on real-life usage. I control multiple PC servers and Macs from an iMac 5K station. This is all over ethernet on the same LAN, no WiFi or WAN involved in my case. – Michael Bradley Jan 21 at 14:41

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