December 23, 2006

Run VNC In Vista

One of the annoyances I’ve been having with Windows Vista is that I coudn’t get a VNC server to work. VNC is a remote desktop program that lets you hop on to another computer, see the screen, and take control of the mouse and keyboard. I use it a ton not only inside the office, to provide support to other computers, but also when I’m working from home and I want to hop on my office computer. So not having that option under Vista has been a big void for me, and the Remote Desktop is not a good alternative, because it doesn’t let you see the same desktop you see when you’re actually sitting at the computer. Remote Desktop opens up a new profile and a new user session, and actually locks the computer so anyone else can’t use it. Not good for what I need to do. So I need a VNC server, like RealVNC, running so I can do the work I’m accustomed to.

Today I was Googling around, hoping to finally find an answer to the problem. And I did, sort of, in a roundabout way. It turns out that there are two ways for VNC to run. The first way is to run it as a service. That means it starts automatically and it’s always running in the background, even when you log off your profile. The other way is to run it in User Mode, so it runs like any other program, like Outlook or Firefox, and it shuts down when you log off. Obviously running VNC as a service is the better way to go, but that way doesn’t work under Vista because of some of the new security layers they’ve thrown in the mix. But, it turns out, running VNC in User Mode does work under Vista, and although it’s not ideal, at least it works. And working half-assed is better than not working at all in my eye, so now with this workaround I can get my VNC groove on with Vista, until the VNC folks figure out how to make the Service Mode play nice with Vista’s new security. So that makes me happy.

Details on the workaround can be found here.

Update, 2008: Supposedly the new, paid versions of RealVNC, version 4.3 and later, work with Vista. But I haven’t put down the money to find out.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

Comments (25)

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  1. Ali says:

    Realy thank you for your effort and sharing with us man… this is realy helpfull for me and now i am gonna try this one hope this works..

    Thanks again and realy thanks for your time..

    AdWorld Communication

    Posted June 11, 2007 @ 8:29 am
  2. jamison says:

    This way worked like a charm for me on vista:

    Start RealVNC installation
    Click Next
    Accept Terms and Agreements and click Next
    Click Next on Destination for Installation
    Click Next on Select Components
    Click Next on Select Start Menu Folder
    Untick Register and configure VNC Server for Service-mode
    Untick Start the VNC Server in Service-mode
    Click Next
    Click Install
    Click Next once install is complete
    Click Finish

    Click on Start > Programs > RealVNC > VNC Server 4 (User-mode) > Run VNC Server

    You will then notice the VNC server icon will appear next to your clock in the system tray and it will state waiting for connections.

    Posted August 3, 2007 @ 7:49 am
  3. Josh says:

    I did get this to work. However, I did notice that when trying to do things on the remote Vista machine, whenever you encounter the infamous Vista warning “Are you sure you want to do this? Cancel or Continue?” … you know, the one that makes the whole screen go dark until you answer it. This warning disconnects my VNC session. I have to have the user at the remote end click ‘continue’ and only then can I reconnect. Makes it rather difficult to make system changes, install/remove software remotely. Also, when I run the VCN server in user mode, I chose to run it ‘as administrator’. Makes no difference. When that warning pops up, all bets are off.

    Posted August 7, 2007 @ 11:08 am
  4. sato says:

    It “works” with an exception that each user have to run it or put the shorcut in the start menu. The problem is, the users are using the computer in random. How to set the password via console, i.e. via batch program when users are log on-ing? Thank you for this great information.

    Posted September 19, 2007 @ 12:27 am
  5. Brian says:

    You can turn off the “Cancel or Continue” annoyance in the control pannel

    Posted October 29, 2007 @ 8:56 am
  6. Frank says:

    i have problems with my downloadable remote admin app when vista goes to the black authentification. Its based off VNC for XP and earlier so the new security layers are wreaking havoc.. whenever I have to install new software or hardware via remote the black screen (user authorization) pops me out and I have to reconnect… still working on a workaround

    Posted November 26, 2007 @ 4:17 pm
  7. Frank says:

    same problem as Josh above makes it impossible for me to use it as remote admin tool like I did for XP

    Posted November 26, 2007 @ 4:18 pm
  8. pardeep says:

    Try Ultravnc at:

    Posted January 27, 2008 @ 1:10 pm
  9. Jay says:

    You mention that RDP is not a good solution for you being that it opens a new session upon login and fails to connect you to the console (active) session of the machine. RDP can do this, you just need to provide a switch at startup.


    mstsc /console

    Posted March 13, 2008 @ 12:55 pm
  10. az says:

    Hello, i have downloaded the vnc and its working fine but the problem is that i dont know how to get the server number.

    Posted March 16, 2008 @ 9:34 am
  11. Gregg says:

    It seems to me that the makers of RealVNC aren’t too concerned about the free version working with Vista. If you notice, the personal (paid for) version and Enterprise Edition works with Vista. I find it interesting that it works on the paid version and not on the free one. Like the author of this article, I to hope to see this problem resolved in the near future ;~)

    Posted May 20, 2008 @ 9:27 am
  12. Gregg says:

    Oops, it is only the enterprise edition that will work with Vista.

    Posted May 20, 2008 @ 9:32 am
  13. Gregg says:

    OK, after some digging around, I found that you can load the user mode server shortcut into the startup and it will work just fine. Be sure to make it an exception in the firewall or just turn off the firewall.

    My apologies go out to Real Vnc ;~)

    Posted June 5, 2008 @ 11:32 am
  14. deddy says:

    I’ve a problem with my vnc, I want to remote a computer with vista from my comp (use XP) but I can’t remote it when login status (Vista),
    can u help me ?????


    Posted August 13, 2008 @ 7:31 pm
  15. Cat695 says:

    Guys if you follow number 2 by jamison it works fine (i now can connect my iphone using vnc lite) this is using the free edition of realvnc on vista ultimate

    Posted September 14, 2008 @ 5:16 pm
  16. Matt says:

    I have finally installed VnC and have it working on vista completely as it does with xp. Thank you regedit!

    Posted September 15, 2008 @ 8:42 am
  17. Markus says:

    None of this resolves the issue of service mode. I do alot of remote administration and if you have to reboot the Vista pc, it won’t load VNC till after the login.

    Posted October 17, 2008 @ 1:36 pm
  18. Scott Schrantz says:

    I’m having the same issues still, with Service Mode not working and User Mode being so limited. It also doesn’t work with User Account Control. I’ve been using a hybrid technique where I use VNC when I can, and Remote Desktop when I can’t, and I’ve gotten by.

    I hear the new, paid versions of RealVNC work with Vista, but I haven’t put down the money to find out.

    Posted October 19, 2008 @ 8:27 pm
  19. anon says:

    Just download the Enterprise edition and use one of these keys:




    Posted October 31, 2008 @ 2:38 am
  20. dm says:

    as anon it is working with enterprise edition

    just download Enterprise Editon and use the following key it works


    Posted January 23, 2009 @ 10:34 pm
  21. gabi says:

    I work with vnc4.0, verry well, but the host is Vista computer, I see on vista the screen black!Youu can help me, beacose I can not use vnc 4.0 for vista.

    Posted January 28, 2009 @ 3:09 am
  22. W says:

    Yo, thanks for all the information and collaboration!

    Posted March 20, 2009 @ 10:08 am
  23. Kevin says:

    To get this to run automatically:

    copy the User mode server icon in your start menu
    find Startup in all programs
    right click it
    select all users
    paste the user mode server into this new window

    This should get the VNC server to run each time a user logs
    onto that machine 🙂

    Posted March 26, 2009 @ 3:37 pm
  24. raghav says:

    Many thanks. This is quite handy dude.

    Posted April 22, 2009 @ 4:04 am
  25. nicolae vandana says:


    Posted October 27, 2009 @ 11:33 am

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