If I ssh into a server using ssh -X unixserver.com, I can run a command which opens a graphical application and the window will show on my current computer.

I want the same to happen when I ssh into a normal desktop computer (specifically a mac). Like this, ssh -X mymac.com. However, when I do this it just loads the window on the remote machine - not my current machine.


Mac OS X native graphics isn't X11-based and can't be forwarded. And nobody can write a third party forwarder because the WindowServer <-> Core Graphics interface is undocumented and deeply tangled (per Jeremy Huddleston, the poor person who maintains XQuartz and has to try to make X11 stuff behave halfway sanely on OSX; check the X11-users@lists.apple.com archives).

  • Do you know of any other way to forward graphics on OSX? I'm connecting from a mac to a mac, so doesn't HAVE to be X11. – Matt Mar 23 '11 at 21:04
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    You can turn on the built-in VNC server in System Preferences > Internet and Wireless > Sharing > Remote Management > Computer Settings... — but the built-in server is slow and unstable (that is, it has a tendency to crash when used for anything complex). Vine Server is a popular alternative that works well. For the client, you can use the built-in Screen Sharing (which is hidden in /System/Library/CoreServices/Screen Sharing.app) or install a third party VNC client such as JollysFastVNC. – geekosaur Mar 23 '11 at 21:11
  • BTW, Apple's own Remote Desktop product is little more than a glorified VNC server/client, so you're not actually missing much by going that route. (And it's also an indication that hooking the WindowServer for remote display is something even Apple won't attempt.) – geekosaur Mar 23 '11 at 21:15

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