When I'm accessing a remote machine with multiple desktops or full screen applications running, via OS X Lion's built-in screen sharing, how do I change desktops/full screen apps on the remote machine?

The usually Ctrl-(#, left arrow, right arrow) modifier keys change the desktop/full screen app on my local machine only.

I've tried reducing my local machine to one desktop as well as running screen sharing in full screen mode and no luck. I'm not able to change the desktop or full screen app on the remote machine.

  • 1
    Ever since upgrading to Mojave, the above method (Assign different hotkeys, e.g. Ctrl+up arrow and Fn+F9, to local and remote machine) does not work anymore. Any solution?
    – ludlow
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 3:34
  • @ludlow I'm not on Mojave yet but I'll update this once I upgrade.
    – Ian C.
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 4:25

6 Answers 6


Will have to go into system preferences, keyboard, shortcuts, and then assign a specific key to activate Mission Control. You can do this either in your host machine or in the remote one. What matters is that the shortcut for the remote machine is not used in the local machine.

You can do the same directly for the ^right and ^left shortcuts. Change them in one of the two machines and then they will work in the remote one.

For example I indicated the F10 to be mission-control on my remote computer, so whenever I press FN+10 I'll get mission control on the remote Computer

  • 2
    I found this answer with a -1 vote, which it shouldn't be, you may find that you do in fact need to re-assign your keyboard shortcuts in the preferences of the remote machine, which is what worked for me. Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 10:47
  • i make a correction to this answer: You actually need to have different shortcuts defined in System prefs -> Keyboard, different between your host and your remote machine.
    – DrGC
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 16:21

do a spotlight search on the remote mac with the string "mission control". Works on Yosemite at least

  • Not the smoothest of ways to do it but at least it's universal.
    – Allison
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 17:08

Figured it out: pressing F9 (Or Fn-F9 if you're on a MacBook or using a Apple keyboard) when the Screen Sharing window is active will bring up Mission Control on the remote machine and you can switch between desktops and full screen applications.

Activating Mission Control on a Screen Share session

  • I'm remotely connected to my macbook via a windows 7 machine.. any ideas how to cycle through desktops?
    – derelict
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 17:52
  • @SoilSciGuy that's probably an entirely new question since you're not using OS X Screen Sharing for the connection, right?
    – Ian C.
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 21:31
  • did not work in my MacBook Air. You have to define a shortcut in system prefs -> keyboard, one that is different from your host machine
    – DrGC
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 16:20
  • 2
    Didn't work for me on MacBook Pro 2015 w/ El Capitan. I used Gombo's answer and did spotlight search for mission control which worked great. Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 23:18
  1. Go to Programs
  2. Create a MissionControl Alias
  3. Move it to a) the Desktop b) the Dock
  4. Click on it and be happy ;-)

Chees & Choccolate greatings from the Swiss Alps


It's 2019 and I had a similar problem with mojave : three displays on my remote (work) computer, only one on my client (home) computer.

Many of these solutions that refer to MissionControl will help you swap Desktops, not Displays (physical monitors). Swapping virtual Desktops is easy enough: just add the MissionControl icon to your dock.

To swap displays, you need a sequence of three shortcuts:

  1. ⌘-option-X (to switch to observe-only mode)
  2. ⌘-option-2 or ⌘-option-1 or ⌘-option-3 (to swap to the other display)
  3. ⌘-option-X (to switch out of observe-only mode)

In 2023, the easiest way I've found without having to mess up with configurations is by Cmd+Tab and just choose the app you need. It takes you to whatever space the app is currently displayed on.

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