I want to connect from a Windows machine to a MacBook Pro remotely. What I tried is TeamViewer and VNC, but at both I'm not able to change the resolution for the remote connection. Only the resolution of the integrated screen seems to be supported (1280 x 800).

Microsoft RDP is able to do this on Windows machines. How is this done with a Mac?

1 Answer 1


There's a subtle difference in the 2 technologies-- and kind of a misnomer.

Apple's remote screen sharing technology is based on VNC -- Virtual Network Computing. You'd think this would be a virtualized technology that would provide you with whatever screen resolution you wanted, right?

And Windows RDP -- Remote Desktop Protocol -- it would only give you what appeared on a remote desktop, right?

Wrong and wrong.

Apple's VNC-based Screen Sharing will show you what the user's preferences are set to. This is great for supporting a remote user -- you see exactly what they see, even if they have multiple monitors, you can pick and choose which one (or both) that you want to see.

And if there's someone already logged on to the system and you're connecting from another Mac? You're given the choice of whether you want to connect to their account's display, or use your own account's preferences. Multiple users simultaneously on one Mac, even with different screen resolutions.

So the trick is, set your account's preferences to what you want to see remotely; by default, that's going to be the native screen resolution your MacBook Pro supports. I think that once you've set those on your desktop, you're only given the option of scaling it on the Screen Sharing session if you're logged in with a user account not associated with a physical display (the Display preferences shows your remote session as an Unknown Display.)

But changing the resolution to something that's not reflected on the remote display? That's virtualized technology only supported by Remote Desktop.

Yes, confusion, caused by poor choices in names. Apple's use of Screen Sharing is probably the most appropriate name of them all.

  • Thanks for the clarification! Can the resolution of the account preferences be changed to a higher resolution, even the internal display doesn't support it?
    – testing
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 18:21
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    Any resolution you can set when connected to the local desktop can be set remotely. If you want to see a longer list of resolution options, hold down the Option key when clicking on Scaled in the Display Preference panel. I've tried that on both my Mini and MacBook, but the options available are never larger than my max screen resolution.
    – Alphaman
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 21:45
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    There are some third party utilities that may give you more options than what are programmed into the default Display Preferences, e.g., Display Menu, available in the App Store (itunes.apple.com/us/app/display-menu/id549083868?mt=12). I've not tried that in this context, however.
    – Alphaman
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 21:49
  • I tried this app, but I can't set a higher resolution. Seems that I'm out of luck here. How can I log in with an user account not associated with a physical display? Perhaps that has more options ...
    – testing
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 8:59
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    My experience has been that you are given the option to use a different account if you attempt to connect to a system where someone is already logged in; if you login with an account different than the one they are using, you are given the option to request sharing their screen, or to create a new, virtualized login. I've not been able to test this from a Windows system to a Mac, however. YMMV, but I would be very interested in hearing the results of any tests you perform.
    – Alphaman
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 14:19

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