Configuring VNC Servers

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Copyright © 2022 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2018.09.18)

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This page provides basic instructions for installing and configuring generic VNC Server applications.

VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is a standard, not an application. There are many different applications available that can function as VNC servers. TightVNC is a mature, freely-available option that has existed since 2001.

Since VNC is a protocol, it is cross-platform compatible, meaning Windows VNC clients can connect to and control Linux or OSX VNC servers, and vice versa, etc. VNC clients and servers from different companies often work together as well, though some companies develop proprietary versions.

Note: This page is provided as a reference only; Userful staff may not directly assist in the configuration of applications for your organizations systems.

Before you begin

For best results, you should ensure all drivers on your system are up to date, particularly drivers for your video cards/display adapters. It is recommended you check with your PC vendor for any available driver and other software updates and install them.

Windows PCs

Install TightVNC for Windows

TightVNC Setup

TightVNC can be easily installed using standard Windows Installer.

  1. Go to the TightVNC Download Page
  2. Select the version of TightVNC for Windows matching your operating system (32-bit or 64-bit)
  3. Download and run it, following the installation wizard
  4. Select "Typical" when prompted for Setup Type. If you select "Custom", ensure "TightVNC Server" is selected.
  5. Ensure "Register TightVNC Server as a system service (recommended)" is enabled.
  6. Register TightVNC Server as a system service when prompted.
  7. Set and record a password for password-based authentication - this is strongly recommended for security.
  8. Set and record an administrative password (optional). This allows you to prevent the end user from being able to alter the VNC Server's settings.

Setup is now complete.

TightVNC Server Configuration

VNC Start Menu entries in Windows 10

TightVNC Server can run as either an application or service.

As an application, TightVNC is started either manually or automatically after user login, and runs only for that user.

As a service, TightVNC starts automatically when Windows boots, and runs no matter which user is logged in.

Application Mode

  • Go to Start > Programs > TightVNC > TightVNC Server (Application Mode) > Run TightVNC Server.

To quit TightVNC server:

  • Right-click the TightVNC system tray icon and choose "Shutdown TightVNC Server".

Service Mode

To start the TightVNC Server service:

  • Go to Start > Programs > TightVNC > TightVNC Server (Service Mode) > Start TightVNC Service
  • Run net start tvnserver in the Windows command line.

To stop the TightVNC Server service:

  • Go to Start > Programs > TightVNC > TightVNC Server (Service Mode) > Stop TightVNC Service
  • Run net stop tvnserver in the Windows command line.

If you unchecked the recommended option "Register TightVNC Server as a system service" during installation, first you will need to register TightVNC as a service.

  • Go to Start > Programs > TightVNC > TightVNC Server (Service Mode) > Register TightVNC Service.

Tip:If you want the server to show its tray icon to the user,

  • Go to Start > Programs > TightVNC > TightVNC Server (Service Mode) > TightVNC Server – Control Interface

For further configuration options and documentation, see TightVNC's Documentation Page

Multiple Displays

By default, TightVNC will capture and broadcast all displays on a system as a single feed. To capture only select displays:

1. Ensure TightVNC is already running, or is set to run as a service, as above.

2. Open the Windows command line and create a batch file (paste in Notepad and save as a .BAT file):


tvnserver.exe -controlservice -sharedisplay #

  • The # symbol specifies the display to capture, starting at 1.
  • The TIMEOUT value, set in seconds, gives the VNC server time to start before running the command to cast the display - this should be 5-10 seconds at minimum, or whatever time is necessary to allow Windows to finish login.

3. Set the batch file to run at startup.

For Windows 8 and 10:

  • Create a shortcut (right-click, Create Shortcut) to the batch file.
  • Right-click the shortcut file and select Cut.
  • Open the Start menu, type Run and press enter.
  • In the Run window, type shell:startup to open the Startup folder.
  • Once the Startup folder has been opened, click the Home tab at the top of the folder and select Paste to paste the shortcut into the folder.

Repeat this procedure for as many individual displays as necessary on each system.


OSX version 10.4 and newer include VNC server functionality natively. No external software is necessary.

VNC is configured in System Preferences -> Sharing. In the Services panel, enable "Apple Remote Desktop". Use "Access Privileges" to set a password.

iOS/Android Mobile Devices

While there are many VNC client applications for Android and iOS, VNC server functionality for these platforms does not exist.

Linux Desktops

A great deal of free/open source VNC applications exist for many Linux distributions. Most have TightVNC available in their own repositories and installing it involves running some derivative of install tightvncserver.

Your distribution's documentation or community is the best place to look for assistance when dealing with your particular distribution of Linux.

Related Links