One of the great things about Lion was the Virtual Display, whereby when screen sharing you could login as a 2nd user rather than just take over the physical display.

In effect it was like turning your Mac into a (limited) multi user system, whereby 2 people could simultaneously login and use it.

When using the Screen Sharing feature in Mountain Lion (to research whether there were any changes that might answer this question), I noticed it has seemingly been removed.

Is there any official documentation showing it's removal, or is it still possible to achieve perhaps through other utilities, like Apple Remote Desktop?

I should add that I am using ML at both ends of the screen sharing.

  • 1
    Still works for me (connecting from a 10.6 system to ML), I'm going to post my settings later as an answer.
    – nohillside
    Aug 3, 2012 at 16:14

3 Answers 3


OK, I sussed it out. You can still do it, it's just that the way you do it is based on context rather than using the appropriate command.

Basically, to use the virtual display, you need multiple user accounts on the target machine, and you need an account to be already logged into the target machine such that you can login a 2nd time using the virtual display. Any account you wish to log into obviously needs the associated sharing rights enabled. Then follow the following logic:

  • If no one is logged into the target machine, you will always get the Hardware display showing the normal login screen, when you login from that screen you continue to use the hardware display.
  • If the user you try to login as is already logged in, then it will always switch to that user and continue to use the hardware display
  • If you login with a user who is not already logged in at the hardware display but someone else is (this is the key, the Hardware display needs to be in use by someone else), you get the following message and the ability to use the virtual display.

Virtual Display Choice

If you want to use the virtual display for privacy reasons, you cannot simply switch to it like you could in 10.7, but you could simply leave the target machine with Guest logged in on the Hardware display to allow you to login as your primary user on the Virtual one.


It looks like Virtual Display support is still present according to OS X Mountain Lion: Share the screen of another computer

If someone else is already connected to the Mac as a remote user, a dialog asks if you want to share the display with the other remote user (“Share the display”), or set up your own screen (“Connect to a virtual display”). Choose the option you want. If you choose “Connect to a virtual display,” you will share the Mac with the other remote user, but you won’t share the same screen.

  • This seems odd, if I read that correctly, that means I can have 1 local user, 1 remote user sharing the same screen (still 1 user at an account level), and only the 2nd remote user can use a virtual display? Before there was a menu option to switch to the virtual display, now it seems to be a dialogue that is only display if there is an existing remote connection?
    – stuffe
    Aug 3, 2012 at 17:18

Functionality still seems to be present. With the following settings

enter image description here

any user connecting from another Mac (or probably any VNC client) gets directly to the login screen and can select a local user there.

  • I have those settings, as you say you are connecting from 10.6, I think it's a 10.8 client issue.
    – stuffe
    Aug 3, 2012 at 17:16
  • There is also support.apple.com/kb/PH11152 but that isn't really helpful.
    – nohillside
    Aug 3, 2012 at 17:26

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