I'm using the built in Screen Sharing tool in El Capitan to control an iMac from a Macbook Pro in full screen mode. Everything works beautifully except that many special keys and gestures are intercepted by the local Mac and not sent to the shared Mac. Specifically:

  • Ctrl-Arrow (Desktops and Mission Control)
  • F3 (Mission Control)
  • F4 (LaunchPad)
  • Three finger swipe (Switch between Desktops, Mission Control, Exposé)
  • Two finger swipe from left side (Notification Center)
  • Pinch with four fingers (Launchpad)

I can't find any way to switch between desktops on the remote machine other than manually opening the Mission Control app from the Finder or Dock. Disabling the gestures on the local machine doesn't help; they still don't get sent to the remote machine.

Is there any way to get special keys and gestures passed to the shared machine?

  • I let all remote users' screens have Ctrl/up arrow for spaces & mine is on F4… just so I can get to them. If you use "your" commands, your machine changes space instead :(
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 21, 2015 at 19:41
  • @Tetsujin How do you manage that? Ctrl-Arrow and all the F keys do not seem to get passed to the remote machine for me, whether they are assigned on the local machine or not.
    – Robert
    Dec 21, 2015 at 19:46
  • I'll throw my keyboard setup into an answer… which isn't really an answer, but I manage to get by with it...
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 21, 2015 at 19:54

3 Answers 3


Not truly a fix, but a possible workaround.

This picture has the remote key assignments to the left, & mine to the right.

enter image description here

By avoiding the same keys for Mission Control itself, I can get to the remote machine's 'screen list' by using Ctrl ⌃ at least & click on the one I require.

It's not neat, but it does function.


Apple's Screen Sharing has very limited ability to intercept the shortcuts and direct them to the remote OS. About the best you can do is place the screen sharing window in full screen and then shortcuts like quit and spotlight will at least go to the remote as opposed to the local OS.

You might want to look at other software if you run remote sessions:

  • Apple Remote Desktop - still Apple software but provides a little more automation
  • Screens app - has a nice toolbar with commonly needed commands to send spaces / mission control / other affordances to the remote OS

enter image description here

  • Any idea what's Apple's direction with Apple Remote Desktop. App was last updated 27 Jan 2015.
    – kenchew
    Jul 22, 2016 at 10:36
  • This doesn't work if the target machine reproduced in a screensharing window has a res smaller than the res of the monitor it is displayed in as it will not go into full screen. I have a MBP in a 5k display connected to a second MBP and it is a smaller (1920) window.
    – volvox
    Jan 3, 2020 at 11:03
  • I'm using macOS 13.5 Screen Sharing (which is VNC-based?) to access a 10.15 system, and some shortcuts work already (cmd-space for spotlight), and some work if you disable them on the host (ctrl-up for mission control). OP's gesture requests have never worked for me, though. Sep 4, 2023 at 15:19

I use Better Touch Tool for this:

  • On the remote machine I assign ^+Number, ^+Left and ^+Right to select a Mission Control screen.

  • On the local Mac I assign ^+Space+Number, ^+Space+Left and ^+Space+Right to the same functions.

  • On the local computer I assign ^+... to ^+Space+... inside Better Touch Tool to all Apps. Additionally I assign ^+... to the same keys ^+... inside Better Touch Tool only to the Screen Sharing app.

Attention: When assigning the keys inside Better Touch Tool to the Screen Sharing app you must pay attention that the Non Recursive box is checked to avoid sending the same keys in a loop.

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