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Use your iPhone to control your computer

02/05/2010

I don’t know why i didn’t think of it earlier but i started searching for VNC clients so i could use my iPhone as a remote control for my computer. I am going to explain how to do this over your home network so you can use your phone to start/stop a movie, play music, view photos etc on your computer. This works for both macs and PC’s.

What is VNC> Have you ever been on the phone with tech support and they ask if they can control your computer and the mouse starts moving “on it’s own”? Thats VNC, a way to remotely control a computer or other device graphically, instead of hacker style on the command line.

First, a little background. I have been using the Remote app by Apple pretty much since i got my iPhone. This little application lets you control itunes over your home wifi, just make sure your library is shared and you’re good to go. I use it all the time when i am cooking (and pooping, there is nothing worse than pooping to the wrong song…skip)

I was pretty happy but i wanted to be able to control movies and hulu and close my bit torrent client, Vuze with out having to get out of bed.

A VNC client will let you do just that. I am currently using the FREE Mocha VNC lite which is working ok for now. The paid version is $5.99 and gives you better mouse and keyboard support.

So i downloaded it from from the App store to my phone, simple enough, and then i had to go onto my mac and enable screen sharing in the sharing folder of the system preferences. I also set a password which most VNC clients and servers require. Then, I used istat pro, a cool little free dashboard program to tell me my local IP address. You local IP address most likely starts with 192.168.X.XX. I plugged it into Mocha on my phone and VOILA i was looking at the screen on my imac on my phone. Surreal.

For PC’s the process is similar but you will need to install a VNC server on your computer before it will work. For my Acer Aspire one Netbook i used both UltraVNC and TightVNC. UltraVNC has some nice options once you are up and running but TightVNC has a nicer configuration screen and it seems to run a little faster with no configuration and installed way faster than Ultra.

I recommend installing both the server and clients in both programs because that will allow your computer to view and be viewed if you want to screen share with other computers.To see the computer screen on your iPhone make sure the VNC server is running on your computer. Then connect on your iPhone like above. Plug in your local IP address, it will ask you for the password and you will be in remote control VNC land.

It’s really easy for your local network. In the future i will add a post about connecting to your home computer over VNC from a network that is not your home/local network. That requires a little more work.

Have fun using your new iphone remote control I hope you learned something. If you have any questions drop me a comment and i can help you out.
This is what it should look like, except cooler.

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