I'm running MacOS 11.6.6, and I want to do something that is probably impossible on a Mac running that OS version (and possibly all versions). However, just in case I am overlooking something, I thought I would ask here, just in case there's a way, after all, for me to implement what I want. Hope springs eternal!

I know that I can run XQuartz to get an X Server running on my Mac, and then, I know how to set up an ssh-managed connection between my Linux box and my Mac in order to get an X-based utility that is initiated on the Mac under XQuartz (for example, the xterm program) to have its application window appear on my Linux box, even though the xterm program itself is running on my Mac.

What I am trying to do is something similar, but for a non-XQuartz-based program running on my Mac to have its application window show up on my Linux box. I know I can use something like VNC, NoMachine, AnyDesk, etc. to share the entire Mac desktop with my Linux box. However, I just want one (and only one!) Mac application window to show up on the Linux box, not my entire Mac desktop.

For example, suppose I am running the Chrome browser on my Mac. It does not have an X-Windows-based version that runs under XQuartz. I would like to somehow cause the application window for this Mac-resident Chrome browser to somehow show up on my Linux box ... and again, I do not want the entire Mac desktop to show up.

Are there any tricks or hacks or perhaps 3rd-party utilities which would allow me to do such a thing?

As I mentioned, I think that what I want to do is probably impossible ... but could I be mistaken about that impossibility?

Thank you in advance.

UPDATE: I had forgotten to mention that I want to continue to be able to use my Mac for other applications while the one application is redirected to my Linux box. This means that I can't have that one application take up the entire screen and then just share the desktop via VNC, AnyDesk, NoMachine, etc.

And ideally, I'd like it to work the way a remotely displayed X application works: where its window does not show up at all on the host it's running on, and instead, the window shows up on the remote host via the remote host's X server.

Based on the replies I have received, I am even more convinced now that what I want is almost certainly impossible. But maybe ... maybe ... perhaps via some esoteric, not-widely-known hack, there might be a way to accomplish this. Like I said above, hope springs eternal!

And now I stand corrected about the use of XQuartz. I understand now that I don't need that to be running on the Mac side in order to use X forwarding via ssh in order to get X-based apps on the Mac to display their windows remotely. Thanks again to @nohillside for setting me straight about this fact.

  • Yes it is impossible. Also for X11 the server rundown the machine don't the display the client is the machine running the executable
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 20:12
  • It‘s not possible using X11 (unless you want to use X11 capable application), but you can use a VNC solution to log into your Mac remotely.
    – nohillside
    Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 21:01
  • I already mentioned in my post that I don't want to share the entire Mac desktop, and I stated that VNC is therefore not a solution. Oh well, I figured that this is probably impossible. Thanks to both of you.
    – HippoMan
    Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 21:37
  • You could run the application in fullscreen mode. And actually you got the X11 part wrong. You don‘t need to run an X11 server on the Mac if you want to display a Mac application on Linux.
    – nohillside
    Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 22:26
  • Thank you, but I didn't mention above that I do not want the application to run in fullscreen mode on the Mac, because while that particular app is running, I want to be able to run other apps on the Mac, as well, and I do not want to even see the app's window on the Mac. And yes, thank you, I now realize that I don't need XQuartz on the Mac for this, and the X Server needs to run only on the Linix box.
    – HippoMan
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 21:38

1 Answer 1


Finding a solution that will enable this without leaving the slighest hint on the main display that remote sharing is enabled - that is going to be very difficult, if not impossible.

You might in theory be able to pull something off by using a dummy HDMI dongle, so that macOS handles an extra "virtual" display, that can be used for the applications to be remoted. However, it will still be detectable on the main display that there's such an extra "virtual" display in play.

But one thing is theory, another thing is a practical implementation. I think there's a few options out there that you could potentially look at, but I don't think there's any "press one button and it works" programs available at the moment.

One option is called "SharedAppVnc":


This is similar to the VNC option you know, but instead of sharing the entire desktop, it shares only a single (or multiple) windows. The good news is that it is open-source, but the bad news is that it seemingly hasn't been updated for several years.

Another option is "TightVNC Server". The TightVNC server for Windows has options "-shareapp" and "-sharewindow" to share only a specific app or a specific window. They have a macOS version of the server - it is a commercial product. I don't know if that version supports the same options, but it could be worth contact their support to ask.


A final option is "Window Switch". It uses xpra and other tools in order to display application windows that are actually running on other computers. They have screenshots showing Linux application windows being shown on macOS, but not the other way around - it does seem from the documentation that it should be possible, but there's no specific screenshot of it.


  • Thank you very much! I was hoping that there might be one or more possibilities like the ones you have listed here. It turn out that "SharedAppVNC" only works on ancient, stone-age PowerPC-based Macs. And "Window Switch" indeed looks promising, but its Mac version is listed as "Work in progress", and it crashes on my Mac. So, I am now just trying to decide if I want to pay for a commercial license for "TightVNC Server", or just be patient and wait for "Window Switch" to come out with a version that works on my Mac. Either way, I now have options, and thank you again!
    – HippoMan
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 15:36

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