We are a small team of developers and we would like to buy a Mac mini in order to develop for iOS.

We would like to know if it is possible for several users to log in remotely to the Mac mini (using VNC or something similar), each of us having his own desktop (not as VNC does by default).

Is this possible? If yes, which software does it require? (The client machines run on Windows.)


7 Answers 7


Not sure how it was 2 years ago when this question was asked but I confirmed that this work out of the box for me now.

Mid 2010 Mac Mini running OS X Mavericks 10.9 Client machine tested: Windows 7 Pro using TightVNC Viewer, iPad using iTeleport.

Both client devices were able to connect to Mac Mini via VNC and log in to different user accounts at the same time.

On every VNC session, it will show the mac login window which user can choose to access specific user accounts.

Though I would agree that it might be using up more resources when multiple users are connected at the same time, furthermore using for development.

  • This also works with OS X El Capitan (Version 10.11.1) as the server and Windows 10 Pro (Build 10586) as the client. Nov 13, 2015 at 15:05
  • In our case, have to say that one user can see what the other user writes on the onscreen keyboard!!! We have a ssh tunnel for the VNC, and 2 users using the mac mini at the same time.
    – daigorocub
    Aug 31, 2021 at 16:23

Yes, it is possible. But both computers must be running Lion.

In the Host Mac go to System Preferences > Sharing > Screen Sharing and enable it. Check the preferences, too.

In the Remote Mac just hit Command+K and type vnc:// and the IP address of the Computer.

  • We are trying to remotely connect from Windows computers unfortunately... Our point is to avoid having to buy several apple computers :)
    – Jukurrpa
    Jun 18, 2012 at 11:44
  • 1
    @Jukurrpa You can use a VNC client on windows as well :)
    – rogerdpack
    Jan 5, 2016 at 22:57

Yes, you can do this in Mac OS X 10.7 and later. Just set up an account for each user and enable VNC (System Preferences => Sharing => Screen Sharing).

  • 1
    I tried this on a macbook pro. When I connect with VNC from the Windows computer I only get a grey screen (the background of the login screen). If no user is logged on the macbook, I get the login screen but then both computers see and control the same session.
    – Jukurrpa
    Jun 18, 2012 at 11:43
  • Are you sure you're running 10.7 (Lion) ?
    – Paul R
    Jun 18, 2012 at 13:51

Late 2012 Mac Mini with 16GB using RealVNC. On LAN have run 3 active users at once running Xcode 6 simultaneously. Biggest problem is in setting varying screen resolution since Mac has multiple giant screens and The Windows PCs don't. Works great. We could add another user if we wanted to with 16 gigs.

As to how this applies to the original question, while one person works on the Mini, two others can log in from Windows workstations on the LAN, all running xcode. From Windows workstations. I think that was the original question if I understand correctly.

I would just add that the setup was remarkably easy. Install VNC on the mini and on each PC. That's pretty much it. Took about 30 minutes to get the kinks worked out.

  • Can you add some more details as to how this specifically applies to the OP's question?
    – aaplmath
    Aug 21, 2015 at 22:09
  • Impressive workload on the MINI - thanks for the added data.
    – bmike
    Aug 21, 2015 at 22:52
  • Given it is the low-end Mini with an i5 I was surprised. Aug 22, 2015 at 0:11

Mac OS X doesn't support this out of the box, as far as I know, at least not for Windows clients.

Because of that you will want 3rd party software such as Aqua Connect or iRAPP terminal server.

Apple have screen sharing, but it is VNC-based (the extensions to 'screen sharing' to allow more than one connection requires a mac client, I believe) and all indications are that the Lion implementation of VNC is broken, especially when trying to access it from Windows clients.


You can login several user at a time by enabling "Remote Login", however this will enable many user to login via ssh / scp means. Which might be workable if you want access to terminal tools including xcode's command line interface for building projects you can use things like gcc or xcodebuild via a ssh session.

If getting each additional user access to their own GUI is your goal, I am not sure that is possible with the built in VNC server. There is an interesting solution 10.4: Use multiple simulataneous GUI accounts noted on Mac OS X Hints that may be the answer to your question, however it was tested on Mac OS 10.4, not sure if it sill works on OS X Lion, etc.

Their solution is:

After you have two or more accounts set up on one Mac, install OSXvnc and start the server. Once started, Fast User Switch to the other user on the machine.

Now from another computer, use a VNC viewer like Chicken of the VNC and point it to the Mac. Even though the Mac is logged in as another user, your VNC session goes to the original account, allowing both of you to use the machine at the same time.

When testing, this is seemed to work well, although you have to wonder if there will be problems with system calls from the same programs happening simutaneously. I've only been running this for about two hours, but no problems so far.


Ok, so it's possible, but there are some issues to do it in a workable way.

First option: Native OS X Screen Sharing feature

  1. In the Host Mac go to System Preferences > Sharing > Screen Sharing and enable it.

  2. In the remote windows machine use a vnc software (client or viewer) such as TighVNC, UltraVNC and RealVNC. They work mostly the same, with some different drawbacks each.

You will have problems with windows vs mac keyboard layout and some keys wont't work. Mostly the Mac alt / Option explained here: Can't get Alt (Option) key to work while remote controlling a Mac from Windows with VNC

The performance (speed) will be terrible. And the viewer speed settings won't do anything due to poor compatibility with the mac implementation of VNC.

To activate the multiple-user concurrently / simultaneously function, you may need to activate fast user switching functionality on OS X.

Second option: 3º Party VNC Server software

I used RealVNC. Others may workout the same:

  1. Install RealVNC server on the host mac
  2. Install RealVNC viewer on the windows

Performance will improve considerably, better keyboard compatibility including the missing keys and Copy and Paste support across host and client computers. (server and viewer)

But you won't have the multiple users option. Every viewer will connect to the same user on the mac.

Third option: 3rd Party VNC Server software together with Native OS X Screen Sharing feature

  1. Do option 1 and option2
  2. Change the port option 2 uses to allow both vnc software to be enable at the same time.
  3. Login with option 1
  4. Start realvnc usermode , not the serive mode (It's located in Application folder > RealVNC folder > Advanced folder > VNC Server (User Mode) )
  5. Connect with option 2
  6. Close the option 1 client.

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