I am trying to figure out if there is a way to use VNC (or perhaps something else) to control my Mac remotely, and have the remote screen blanked out. I would like to be able to control my Mac without others seeing what I am doing at the remote computer. I have VNC working now, but the remote screen displays and allows input from the mouse and keyboard.

There are several VNC solutions that do this in Windows, but I can find none for Mac OS.

Unfortunately, solutions like logmein.com and whatnot are not going to work for me. I would love to be able to use them, but it is just not an option at the moment.

I would prefer a free option, but as this is for a business, if there is a paid option, I would consider it. Any ideas out there?


Edit: The computer I wish to control is on Snow Leopard. Upgrading to Lion is not possible at this time.

  • 1
    Doesn't OS X Lion start a separate session? Couldn't you use this and just not have a local session running?
    – Daniel Beck
    Jan 23, 2012 at 19:38
  • @DanielBeck From what I can tell, this is true for Lion, but not Snow Leopard, which is what I am using on the computer I want to control. Unfortunately, upgrading to Lion is being disallowed at this point by my employer. I'll edit my question to include that information though. Jan 23, 2012 at 20:14

3 Answers 3


Apple Remote Desktop has a "Curtain Mode" which does essentially this. It also does a number of other useful things for managing OS X clients, such as pulling reports, pushing updates and other install packages, running scripts on multiple clients, etc.

It's a paid program, but I don't fully understand the licensing at the moment. There's a $499 unlimited-client boxed version (i.e. you buy one copy per admin computer, but then that computer can manage as many clients as you want), or a $299 10-client boxed version (another option on the same page). When the App Store came out, they added it as a $79.99 option there, but I'm not sure if that's unlimited or 10-user or what.

  • I'll have to give that a shot. I believe the company has a license for that, but I'm not sure. The keeper of that software seems to be MIA, so I'll have to wait. :/ I'll let you know how it goes! Jan 24, 2012 at 21:31

Could you do what you need to do via the command line, and so simply use ssh to connect to the system remotely? ssh connections won't be visible at all on the screen. You may need to configure the remote system to permit incoming ssh, and also enable sudo, depending on what the security settings are in the first place on the target system.

  • Got that working already, but there are some apps on the box that I would need to use that can not be manipulated in the Terminal unfortunately. There are a great many things I can do from there, but just not everything. It is a good solution though! Jan 23, 2012 at 20:17
  • Have you looked at those apps' scripting dictionaries? Many Mac apps publish their functionality as classes that can be called from AppleScript. If you can get a piece of AppleScript to do what you need, you can call it from ssh using the osascript command.
    – Tobia
    Apr 8, 2013 at 21:35

This may work on a Mac:

xset dpms force on

I'm pretty sure OSX flavors know xset, and that command should put the VNC server monitor to sleep. You'll have to run that when you connect but it isn't terribly secure (someone can just shake the mouse).

  • 1
    The regular OS X GUI isn't an X server. xset exists, but server does not have extension for dpms option. (Tried to run it locally)
    – Daniel Beck
    Jan 23, 2012 at 20:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.