I asked a similar question here before but apparently I wasn't as clear as I had expected by the responses. That said, I'll try again.

I have a Mac Pro with quad monitors which I would like to access remotely. I've been using VNC for this (either via screen sharing or a dedicated VNC client), which works, but the VNC protocol matches the physical layout/resolutions of attached monitors and not those of the client like RDP does.

One of the things I like about Microsoft's Remote Desktop (Terminal Server) client is that when you connect, it blanks out the local screens and sets the resolution to a client-specified setting. In other words, even though on my host machine I'm running a quad-monitor setup (30" monitor flanked by 2 24" monitors as well as a 21" Cintiq), when I access it from my notebook (client), the desktop (host) reconfigures itself to perfectly match the resolution of the client. This is not scaling or cropping. If you look at the arrangement of the monitors in Control Panel, you'll now see it show a single monitor matching the notebook as if the four physical monitors don't exist.

That's also how RDP gets such great throughput because its working as an optimized remote video driver and not trying to 'screen scrape' the screen of an actual video card like VNC does.

Again, VNC works and yes I know I can use 5901, 5902...n to attach VNC to a specific monitor as opposed to the entire desktop, but I'm still at the mercy of trying to look at a 2560x1600 resolution on a 1280x800 screen. I'm left with either scaling (everything's too small) or panning/scrolling (it's like playing hide-and-seek with your documents!)

SO... anyone know of any Mac-based remote software (client and server) that will let me connect to my Mac Pro and reset the resolution by the client, just like you can in Windows, or am I SOL?

  • I can't edit, but s/VLC/VNC. – user31752 Aug 23 '10 at 5:17
  • Can't help for now - but I gather that the upcoming OS X Lion will have an improved Remote Desktop experience. – barryj Jun 3 '11 at 6:22
  • We'll know in about 24 hours! :) – Mark A. Donohoe Jun 5 '11 at 14:47
  • @MarqueIV have you found any kind of solution for this problem? – Panayotis Oct 16 '19 at 23:55
  • 1
    @Panayotis, unfortunately, no. Closest I could come up with was to disconnect my monitors and use one of those ‘headless adapters’... little plugs that fake a monitor is attached which supports any resolution. I bought the 4K version so wherever I connect to it from, it’s supported. (The 4K supports all lower resolutions too.) they’re all over Amazon. Check them out. – Mark A. Donohoe Oct 17 '19 at 2:33

An entirely different approach, depending on what software you need to run, would be to fire windows back to yourself using X over ssh. This, of course, will only be workable if you are actually running XWindow applications rather than native Cocoa apps under Aqua. :)

  • Not just a different approach, but a different issue altogether, not really related to my question. Still. I'll leave it here in case it helps others. – Mark A. Donohoe Jul 15 '13 at 0:14

Not quite what you are looking for, but you can ssh in, change the screen resolution on the command line, VNC, then change it back.

  • Not sure that will work, because again, I'm using multiple monitors so the script would have to disable all but the main one. That's what I like about MS's Remote Desktop... it just does that automatically, basically disabling all actual monitors and setting up a 'virtual' one which is the remote client. Then when you close the connection, the 'virtual' monitor goes away and the physical monitors come back again. – Mark A. Donohoe Aug 23 '10 at 15:01

Check out JollyFastVNC and Chicken Of The VNC. I've used both but can't remember if it has the exact feature you're asking for.

  • VNC in general, regardless of the client, doesn't seem to support what I'm asking because VNC simply transmits the hosts monitor configuration. RDP on the other hand has the host emulate the monitors of the client. For instance, I routinely connect to my Win7 notebook from my multi-monitor desktop and the notebook runs with the resolutions and arrangement of the desktop monitors because RDP emulates the video drivers. That's not the way that VNC works which again, simply uses the host configuration. – Mark A. Donohoe Nov 26 '12 at 18:29

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