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I use Back-To-My-Mac to log into my office computer from home and vice versa. Normally, after I log into my home laptop, I darken the screen for both energy efficiency and privacy and that works fine. However, when I log into my iMac at work, I noticed the next day that the screen-darkening trick is virtually pointless as far as privacy is concerned (I share an office). The lowest brightness setting of the screen on my iMac is nowhere near a level that would prevent others from watching me work.

Is there a way to darken or hide the display on an iMac when logged in remotely? I've been searching for a solution and cannot find one.

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Awhile back, I discovered an even better, simpler, more reliable, and free way to accomplish the goal of screen sharing without people being able to mess with the remote mac or observe you working. All you have to do is:

  1. Create a secondary user on the remote mac.
  2. Screen share into your account (assuming it's the one that has the screen locked).
  3. Use fast user switching to switch accounts to the secondary account
  4. Lock the screen of the remote mac using the apple menu -> "Lock Screen" option
  5. End the screen sharing session
  6. Screen share into your account again (which no longer is showing on the screen of the remote mac).

Viola! You can now work without anyone messing with your keyboard or watching what you're doing. Much more reliable of a method than Shades and free too.

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Apple Remote Desktop has a Curtain setting which hides the screen locally while the remote user still has access to everything. There is information here about making ARD work with Back To My Mac.

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    Wow, $80. I think I don't care about people watching me work that much. I assume it's just as unreliable as the screen sharing app and BTMM.
    – hepcat72
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 21:11
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    The program that ARD uses to create the Lock Screen is /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/AppleVNCServer.bundle/Contents/Support/LockScreen.app. I tried to execute it on a 10.10.3 iMac, and the local keyboard/mouse were disabled, but the windows would still update when they were manipulated remotely. There might be a way to control that; but, I didn't see it in a cursory search.
    – Kent
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 23:39
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A follow up to the answer from @hepcat72 - If you see this dialog when connecting, you did it successfully (starting a new session instead of joining the one that someone has open right now on the physical machine)

enter image description here

"Ask for permission to view the display"

"Log in as yourself"

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  • Looks like a new feature since I originally did this in 2019. I rarely ever do this anymore since I have a new office at work and my monitor now faces the far wall at the end of our new shared office and I converted a room at home to a home office in 2020 that no one hardly ever goes in. Glad to see the trick I discovered has helped others though.
    – hepcat72
    Commented Jul 18 at 19:58
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I did some searching on this issue and found a viable solution. I had to try a few different apps, because many of these apps use an overlay and don't actually turn down the backlight of the LCD display. What this means is, when you darken the screen with an overlay, it darkens the remote screen sharing window as well.

However Shades darkens the monitor and not the screen sharing window on the remote client. It's donation-ware, so it doesn't cost anything to try out. It installs a system preference pane and has the ability to configure some keyboard shortcuts.

I found it to be slightly buggy. Sometimes, the menu icon doesn't respond to clicks, but stopping and starting the shades app via the system preferences pane works around the issue.

I tested out the apps by darkening the screen and then initiating screen sharing from the remote mac to ensure I could share the brighter version of the desktop, but have the LCD display darkened at the same time.

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A good alternative to MacOS remote desktop is Anydesk. It has a nice 'privacy mode' feature, if you enable it, your host machine screens will be turned off.

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