ScreenRecycler - Use an Old Computer as an Extra Screen

Published Tuesday, June 28, 2011 12:22 PM

Do you typically update your computer before your previous one wears out? Then why not use your old computer as a second screen for your new one? There's no such think as too much screen real-estate you can always find ways to use it all. Two 30 inch monitors seems like plenty of space, but when you have two 30 inch screens you can still find ways to fill it up. ScreenRecycler is a Mac application that creates a VNC server that configures your old computer as an extra monitor.

ScreenRecycler creates a VNC server that allows your other Windows, Linux, or Mac computer to connect to it via VNC. The difference between ScreenRecycler and a normal VNC session is that instead of seeing a mirrored image of your main computer you get a blank screen that acts as second monitor. This allows you to drag windows use it just like a second monitor.

Both computers have to be on the same Network to make the connection work. Once you install ScreenRecycler on your main Mac computer all you have to do is launch the application. Take notice of the VNC server options and the port number in use in the main connection window. On the other computer open your VNC application of choice and enter in any of the server name followed by the port number, wbimac.local:6900 for example. 

If you don't know what VNC application to use for Windows I would suggest TightVNC and Mac JollysfastVNC, which is actually developed by the same people and designed to work well with ScreenRecycler. You can also try the Mac built in VNC app "Screen Sharing" if you would like, but remember to add vnc:// before the server name and port number. If you have any question check out Cult of Mac's howto video.

The performance isn't that great over Wi-Fi and that's because the bandwidth is too low. It's still usable but doesn't like you to move windows around as much. It works best with windows that are stationary. If you watch ScreenRecycler's instructional video on their website they are using a crossover cable to make the connection faster. This is probably ideal for most situations. You can purchase crossover cables, crossover adpaters, or even make your own if you like.

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