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Despite Apple’s attempts to marry iOS and macOS through the wonders of iCloud, you’ll need to jailbreak if you want to control your device remotely. For most of us, it’s probably not worth it 4 Compelling Security Reasons Not To Jailbreak Your iPhone or iPad 4 Compelling Security Reasons Not To Jailbreak Your iPhone or iPad Jailbreaking can get rid of Apple's many restrictions, but before you jailbreak your device it's a good idea to weigh up the benefits and potential drawbacks. Read More .

But you’re here now, so we might as well take a look at what’s involved. We’ll also have a look at the various remote iPhone functions you can get access to without voiding your warranty.

For full jailbreaking instructions, check out our upcoming guide.

For Non-Jailbroken Devices

If you’ve got a Mac running a modern version of macOS, you should have some limited access to shared iOS features from your desktop. Windows, Linux, and other users need not apply — this is first-pary stuff.

How to Remote Control Your iPhone From Your Computer icloud prefs

You’ll need to maintain the same Apple ID on both your Mac and iOS devices. Make sure you sign in to the various apps and services (like your Mac’s Messages app, and System Preferences > iCloud) and you’ll be able to do the following:

  • Send iMessage, regular SMS, and media messages using your Mac’s Messages app.
  • Make and accept phone calls via your Mac’s Contacts app, both using cellular and FaceTime.
  • Access your mobile device’s Safari browsing session using Safari for Mac via the Show Tab Overview button.
  • Create and access Notes, Reminders and Contacts, with changes pushed to all devices using iCloud.

Handoff was a feature added in iOS 8 which makes it easier to switch between devices. Make sure it’s turned on under System Preferences > General > Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices.

How to Remote Control Your iPhone From Your Computer handoff mac

Provided the iCloud accounts match up, you can do things like:

  • Access your most recent mobile Safari tab on your Mac.
  • Continue writing a Mail draft you started on your iPhone.
  • Send or retrieve Maps routes or locations to and from your devices.
  • Pick up where you left off in compatible third-party apps like Wunderlist and Pocket.

In iOS, you can access this feature from the app switcher — just double-tap the home button and look at the bottom of the screen. On a Mac, a new icon should appear at the very edge of the dock.

How to Remote Control Your iPhone From Your Computer handoff ios

You can also access many of these features from iCloud.com including Notes, Reminders, Mail, Calendar, and any iWork documents synced over iCloud. It’s not great, but it’s the best non-Mac users have got. If you have both a Mac and a PC, it’s also technically possible to access the Messages app on Windows How to Use iMessage and Other Mac Apps on Windows or Linux How to Use iMessage and Other Mac Apps on Windows or Linux Do you use both a Mac and a Windows PC? Getting tired of switching between the two? Well, now you don't have to! Read More .

Jailbreakers: Get Full Remote Control

If your device has already been jailbroken, you’re able to control your device entirely from the comfort of your computer. That includes Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and even other iOS devices.

This is possible thanks to a Cydia tweak known as Veency, which as the name suggests is a VNC server. VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing and it provides a way of sharing your display and relinquishing control to a third party 4 Creative Uses For A VNC Server 4 Creative Uses For A VNC Server Other than just using VNC clients to connect to a remote computer, what can you really use VNC servers for? When you stop and think about it, the ability to connect to and control a... Read More . Apple didn’t bake this functionality into iOS (presumably due to abuse potential) and you won’t find any VNC servers on the App Store.

How to Remote Control Your iPhone From Your Computer veency

With your jailbroken iOS device in hand, launch Cydia and let it update any repositories as required. On the search tab type “Veency” and tap the corresponding result. Hit Install and then Continue. Veency is completely free to install and use.

When the installation has completed, hit Restart Springboard and wait for Cydia to do its thing. You’ll now find a Veency entry in your device’s Settings app. You can toggle the server on or off, choose to show the cursor, and set a password (which is a good idea).

How to Remote Control Your iPhone From Your Computer veency settings

Your jailbroken device is now ready to be remote controlled. With both devices connected to the same local Wi-Fi network, head to Settings > Wi-Fi on your iOS device and tap the small “i” next to the network you’re currently using. You’ll see a bunch of numbers, but the important one is your IP Address.

How to Remote Control Your iPhone From Your Computer ios ipaddress

Now open your chosen VNC viewer. Mac users can use the in-built Screen Sharing tool (search Spotlight for it) 7 Good Habits Every Mac User Should Get Used To 7 Good Habits Every Mac User Should Get Used To Today we're going to share our favourite good Mac habits, while desperately trying to forget the bad ones. Read More . Another good alternative for any operating system is the free RealVNC Viewer, available for every major operating system including Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS.

How to Remote Control Your iPhone From Your Computer screen sharing macos

To connect, simply point your VNC viewer app at the iOS device’s IP Address you noted earlier. I had trouble connecting without a password, so I’d recommend setting one and trying again if you have any problems. If all goes well, you should see your iOS device’s display appear on screen.

Controlling Your Device

If you’re going to rely on this method, you should be aware that your target device’s IP address may change from time to time. An easy way to solve this is to reserve a static IP using your iOS device’s MAC address. You can find the MAC address under Settings > General > About, then consult our guide for instructions on assigning a static IP What Is A Static IP Address, How Do I Get One & Its Advantages/Disadvantages What Is A Static IP Address, How Do I Get One & Its Advantages/Disadvantages In home networks, IP addresses aren't usually fixed, but they do fall within specific ranges. A static IP address doesn't change. What are the advantages to this, and why would you want one? Read More .

How to Remote Control Your iPhone From Your Computer vnc request

Veency includes a few basic controls to get access to common iOS functions:

  • Left click: a regular tap
  • Right click: home button
  • Middle click: lock button (workaround required for Mac)

If you’re connecting via Mac, you likely won’t have a three-button mouse but you can download MagicPrefs (free) to add your own shortcut. If you find any other workarounds, let us know in the comments, though it’s not a huge issue since your iPhone will lock itself in due time.

How to Remote Control Your iPhone From Your Computer vnc connected

You can type as normal using your computer’s keyboard, and swipe or long-tap using your trackpad and regular mouse clicks. Depending on your network speed, you may see a bit of slowdown, but performance is good enough despite some screen tearing and glitchy artifact.

Now that your iPhone can be controlled remotely, at least over a local network connection, you can do some cool things like:

  • Use SMS or iMessage from Windows, Linux, or even Android!
  • Control what Music is playing without getting up.
  • Access your device anywhere you can get Wi-Fi in your house.
  • Play tricks on your friends or significant other…

There are limitations too. You won’t be able to transmit voice data, so Siri won’t work unless you’re close by. I couldn’t get sound to work, either locally or via the VNC viewer. By extension, calls and video calls won’t really work either. I also couldn’t find any way to bring up Control Center or Notification Center, since swiping from the bezels wasn’t possible.

Worth It?

There’s a novelty in accessing iOS via Android or sending iMessages from your Linux desktop, but is that enough to make this whole process worth it? For Mac users, the answer is probably no. For everyone else, why not drop a comment below!

Will you bother installing a VNC server on your iPhone?

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  1. jamil haddadin
    December 27, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    the problem with this application is that iPhone IP address will keep changing... so everytime you want to remote your iphone you need to check the IP which is not that practical

    is there any way to remote your iPhone using the hostName (which should be stored in my network defualt dns)

  2. Anonymous
    July 12, 2015 at 5:05 am

    thanks man,

    although,

    how do i press the home button from a vnc viewer on mac.

    im using assistive touch for home button atm...

    using "VNC Viewer"

    • NonfatJoker288
      June 17, 2017 at 5:53 am

      Right click wherever you can see the devices screen.

  3. Isaac
    May 23, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks a lot, man!

  4. Kevin W. Mullet
    May 17, 2015 at 2:55 am

    I was desperate to remotely use my phone in a hurry, because we use WhatsApp for on-call urgent texting, and iPhone users are the only ones who don't have access to the WhatsApp web client, presumably because API restrictions in IOS.

    I got everything up in about five minutes. I'm on an iPhone 5C, Jailbroken, running IOS 8.1, and Veency 0.9.3500.

    To the person who finds that they can only view their phone, VNC clients typically have both a 'view' and a 'use' mode.

    I'm using my phone with My Macbook's "Screen Sharing" app. To put it into 'use' mode, I had to go to View/Show Toolbar, then select the 'control mode' icon on the left (pointer with concentric waves) instead of the 'observe mode' (binoculars).

    I don't know if this is a function of what client I'm using or of Veency, but...
    Left click is touch. Right click is home button. Mouse or Trackpad scroll does NOT translate to device scroll. You have to left-click touch and drag up or down to scroll on device.

    My idle lock engaged when I was typing this, and I was able to touch the screen in VNC and type my screen lock code to get back in, so that's nice.

    I STRONGLY urge you, if you're using Screen Sharing on OS X (or any other client that supports adaptive quality) to use adaptive quality to somewhat alleviate the sluggishness.

    I'm not sure if I'd use this to project my phone for a demo. If there was enough typing involved, I might, because auto-correct is just damn maddening. If I didn't, though, I'd connect my iPhone or iPad to my mac via my sync cable, go into QuickTime, Create new video, and select my device from the drop down to the right of the right of the record button. That lets me display my phone in QuickTime and/or record it, and the response time is much better. It's strictly observe only, though.

  5. Rafaqat Ali Ranjha
    January 1, 2015 at 11:26 am

    It does not type in the apps though it shows iphone on your computer. All the commands work but does not type into apps. Do i have any alternate to type into iphone through pc?

  6. Raafat_ahmed
    October 31, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I liked that and tested it yesterday .. My only concern is the delay on my pc. I click an icon, I find it opened on the iPhone and maybe after 1or 2 seconds it opened on my desktop .. Any solution for that delay ?

  7. John Howard
    October 24, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I wanted to have my iphone plugged in the stereo and change tunes etc. from my computer while working. This is perfect.

  8. Tehninjah
    October 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Eerm... use it with joypad? virtual keyboard? NO- Wait.

    an app that controls a pc mouse. control one pc with another!

    And freak your mates out!

  9. erikwithak84
    October 8, 2010 at 1:54 am

    tried it through magic track pad..... nope gestures don't communicate.

  10. avian00
    August 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    So in summary...

    1) Jailbreak your iPhone (beyond the scope of this HowTo, but incredibly convoluted and error-prone).
    2) Install whatever you want, including a VNC server via Cydia (ridiculously simple after you've Jailbroken).

    Hate to be a snob, but I'm not sure this is such an amazing HowTo. Especially given Apple's latest Firmware update broke the jailbreakme exploit.

  11. avian00
    August 23, 2010 at 11:05 am

    So in summary...

    1) Jailbreak your iPhone (beyond the scope of this HowTo, but incredibly convoluted and error-prone).
    2) Install whatever you want, including a VNC server via Cydia (ridiculously simple after you've Jailbroken).

    Hate to be a snob, but I'm not sure this is such an amazing HowTo. Especially given Apple's latest Firmware update broke the jailbreakme exploit.

  12. Roger45365
    August 22, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Um your wrong. Myphonedesktop does mms photo sharing phone & phone calls from your computer. Its in the Apple App Store.

  13. Josh Fox
    August 22, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    There are actually some uses for this, since nobody's mentioned any in the comments here. I haven't found any easy ways to record a screencast natively on my iPod Touch, this could bring that to light. Maybe it's just in my nature, but it could also be good for conducting pranks on an unsuspecting target.

    Just an added note. SSH is remote access. VNC is remote USE.

  14. Anonymous
    August 21, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Since I use ssh to login remotely, not sure what advantages VNC will offer, will definitely give it a try.

    • Amaan 1996
      August 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm

      SSH just lets you use the Terminal. Here it's the GUI you're going to be using through your computer.

      • Anonymous
        August 22, 2010 at 5:53 pm

        Well I knew that difference, I was only talking about application. As the below post indicates, texting is probably one good application for some who does a lot of it. Also useful, if you must send an email from the iphone/ipad.

    • Varun Kashyap
      August 22, 2010 at 4:06 pm

      It really depends on how you use your phone. If you do a lot of texting, then you can type the messages using your computer's keyboard. You can be installing applications and checking your phone sitting in other room or even over the Internet. Again not something everyone does, but the possibilities are endless.

  15. jhpot
    August 21, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    I'm going to try this. Can't think of an instance it might be useful, personally, but I do think it would be a lot of fun.

    • skwerl
      January 17, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      Being able to check in a room when you desire wi skyping unto your device on command would be nice. Half way around the world and your spouse suddenly vanishes or has some sort of health issue and you can't reach them? Make sure they are alive maybe.