TightVNC: Quick-and-Dirty Remote Control


Nothing is worse than arriving at a remote destination, turning on your computer, and finding out that you left something critical back at home. That’s where remote control software comes in, and I’ve previously covered a few of the best known products in this category. Recently, I’ve been using a much lesser-known, free and open source remote control product called TightVNC. It has a lot going for it, and many web workers may find it easier to download and use than some of the other choices.

When I went to download TightVNC, I didn’t give any thought to where the name came from. However, after I timed the download and entire installation at 45 seconds, I’m pretty sure I know where the “tight” part of the name comes from. (The VNC part comes because TightVNC is an open source offshoot of remote control product RealVNC.)

TightVNC is a no frills, lightweight remote control application with a footprint of only 1.5 megabytes. You could easily keep it on a USB thumb drive so that it’s with you wherever you go, and you can get access to files back on your remote computer.

Despite its lack of bulk and frills, TightVNC does a good job of warning you to use passwords and names for computers as you set up TightVNC Server and your options for connecting remotely. This is important, because setting up remote connections without following proper security policies is an easy way to expose your data to others.

As in other remote control products, with TightVNC you run TightVNC server on a host machine, set a password for accessing it, and then you use client software for remote access. There are other remote control products with more robust feature sets, but many of them cost money, or are loaded with confusing features. TightVNC keeps it simple. It’s available for Windows and Linux, but unfortunately not for the Mac yet. (RealVNC does work on the Mac.)



@Brad- Thanks for the update on how to use TightVNC on a mac. I was going to leave a neutral comment strictly for the reason I am a mac user and this would not apply to me. Now I will be able to go try this lightweight remote control app out. Thanks again Brad.


FYI, on new Macs you can just enable screen sharing in System Preferences->Sharing, and then use your favorite VNC client (Chicken of the VNC is a good Mac one) to connect.

I also like Synergy for keyboard/mouse sharing if you want something lighter weight and not so Windows-restrictive if you don’t use Windows at all.


TightVNC also supports file copy between viewer and server machines, though it doesn’t have batch mode, and also isn’t drag-and-drop. My only complaint about file copy is that it’s slower than microsoft networking, even on a LAN.

If you have 2 or more computers at your desk, and each has it’s own display, you can run win2VNC on one (if windows), and any VNC server on the other(s), to share the mouse and keyboard with them! It looks and feels like one PC with multiple monitors, but each is an independant machine. I have my PC in the middle, my Mac on the left, and my Linux workstation on the right. B) You can run up to 4 instances of it to control 5 machines- just run the mouse off the up/down/left/right sides of the screen to teleport it.

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