Through the use of VNC and port-forwarding, you can control your Windows Vista or Windows XP computer from inside and outside your local area network. For the purposes of this tutorial, assume you have a Windows XP laptop and you have Windows Vista installed on your desktop, and you want to have complete control of your Windows Vista desktop computer from your Windows XP laptop. A screenshot of this is shown here:
The first step is to install TightVNC. TightVNC needs to be installed on both the Windows XP computer and the Windows Vista computer. You can download TightVNC from the TightVNC homepage. I will first demonstrate how to setup TightVNC in Windows Vista.
Installing TightVNC (must be done in Vista and XP)
Once you have downloaded TightVNC, double click the icon to begin the installation process and click Next:
After you agree to the TightVNC license, install TightVNC to the C:’Program Files’TightVNC directory and click Next:
Select all three components of TightVNC: TightVNC Server, TightVNC Viewer, and Web pages and documentation, and Click Next:
Leave the default Start Menu shortcut as “TightVNC” and click Next:
The following screen will be ask you to “Select Additional Tasks.” Only check “Associate .vnc files with TightVNC Viewer” and click Next:
TightVNC will summarize your selections. Click Install and TightVNC will begin the install process:
Congratulations, the installation process is complete, click Finish:
Note: You need to repeat the exact same process in Windows XP.
After you have completed the installation of TightVNC in Windows Vista and Windows XP, you need to configure the program. Since you want to control Windows Vista with Windows XP, you will launch TightVNC Server in Windows Vista and TightVNC Player in Windows XP.
In Vista click Start >> All Programs >> TightVNC >> Launch TightVNC Server
You will likely be prompted by Vista whether the Windows Firewall should allow or block the features of TightVNC. You want to allow all of the features of TightVNC, so click Unblock.
Enter a password, do not change any of the default settings, and click Ok. TightVNC will minimize itself to the system tray.
In order to connect to Windows Vista from Windows XP, you will need to know the local area network address of Windows Vista. To do this, open Command Prompt by going to Start >> All Programs >> Accessories >> Command Prompt.
Once in Command Prompt, type ipconfig/all. This command will give quite a bit of information, but you are only interested in the IPv4 address:
Write this number down, because you will need to use it in Windows XP.
In order to connect to Windows Vista from Windows XP, you need to start TightVNC Player. To do this, in Windows XP go to Start >> All Programs >> TightVNC >> TightVNC Viewer (Fast Compression). Once TightVNC Player begins, enter the IPv4 address you obtained from the Command Prompt shown above and click Ok.
You will now be prompted to enter the password you just set up in Windows Vista, click Ok. Congratulations, you should now see and be able to control Windows Vista from within Windows XP.
Connect to VNC from outside your local network
You can setup your router to allow you to connect to your Windows Vista computer from outside your local area network by forwarding a port on your router to TightVNC Server.
The firmware for most routers is different, so the directions I give to open a port may be slightly different on your router. Connect to your router through your browser of choice. If you have a Linksys router enter http://192.168.1.1 into the URL bar. If you have a NETGEAR router enter http://192.168.0.1. If you have another brand of router please consult your documentation to find out how to access your firmware through a browser, or consult the website, Port Forward.
Once you are in your router’s control panel, you will have a location called something similar to “Port Range Forwarding.” You will want to create a new entry and call the application TightVNC. Enter 5900 for Start and End, choose Both for Protocol, and enter your IPv4 address (my address is shown above as 192.168.1.116) you obtained from the Command Prompt as the IP Address. Choose Enable and click Save Settings:
Open a browser and navigate to “http://www.whatismyip.com” and find out what your IP address is. When you are outside of your local area network, in the prompt for TightVNC “Connection details,” put in this IP address and click Ok. You will now be able to connect to and control your Windows Vista computer even if you are outside of your local area network:
When you are outside of your local area network, I recommend using TightVNC Player (Best Compression) instead of TightVNC Player (Fast Compression).
Here is what you’ve learned how to do:
- Control Windows Vista from Windows XP using TightVNC
- Open a port and forward requests to TightVNC Server
- Control your computer from outside your local area network
As I previously mentioned, you do not have to use Windows XP to control Windows Vista. The reverse (XP controlled by Vista) works equally well. In fact, you can use TightVNC Server and TightVNC Player to control any combination of Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. If you find yourself using TightVNC regularly, I recommend creating a shortcut and putting it into your “Startup” folder so TightVNC Server launches whenever you turn your computer on.
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Got a question? Post it on our Windows Vista Forums!