Apple Remote Desktop Alternatives: Best Options to Use in 2023

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Remote desktop is one of the technologies that is spreading like wildfire these days, with all sorts of clients and variants popping up to offer competitive services and dominate the market. While Google has opted to offer accessible services with their Chrome Remote Desktop, Apple has also entered the market with their “Apple remote desktop” program that comes preinstalled on their mac devices as part of the Macintosh OS. While it makes perfect sense that tech giants such as Apple and Google have come up with their own respective remote access programs, there are also hundreds of other programs developed by smaller developers that do the same job, if not better.

However, similar to a number of other notorious Apple products, the Apple remote desktop also has certain difficulties in performance as well as compatibility issues. This has led to a conversation where people using systems with macOS discuss which one of the third-party Apple remote desktop alternatives suits their needs best. As mentioned above, there are a lot of options, so choosing the one that would work best in conjunction with your needs can get messy and difficult. In this article, I will be going over Apple Remote Desktop and the RDP protocol as a whole, and then I will list the top ten Apple Remote Desktop alternatives in 2023.

What is Apple Remote Desktop?

Apple Remote Desktop is a program made specifically for the Macintosh by Apple that serves as the company’s main remote desktop tool on the macOS operating system. Apple’s remote desktop is rather old, being released all the way back in 2002 when it replaced its predecessor, the Apple network assistant. Throughout the years, Apple remote desktop has received many updates. However, the program also has become a little bit of a bookshelf item, with the latest update that it received dating back all the way to 2017, close to 6 years ago. Apple remote desktop follows its own custom remote access protocol and does not use the famous RDP protocol developed by Microsoft. The default running a port of Apple remote desktop is transmission control protocol (TCP) ports of 5900 AND 5988.

Apple’s lack of active support, as well as certain issues with the program, have prevented Apple remote desktop from becoming a premier remote desktop tool capable of competing with many other third-party programs. So naturally, many Apple users choose to instead look for one of these programs as an alternative for remote desktop for mac services. We are going to list these programs, but first, let’s talk about RDP since most of these Apple remote desktop alternatives are going to be using this protocol.

What is an RDP Server?

Any server that dedicates its resources to allowing you to establish a remote desktop connection via Microsoft’s remote desktop protocol (RDP) is an RDP server. In order to use most of the upcoming Apple remote desktop clients further down the article, you are going to need one of these servers. Usually, the providers of Apple remote desktop clients also provide the server for you, but if that is not the case for the specific client that you have chosen, then you also need to opt for a service provider in order to be enabled to establish a connection with the server. However, this will not be the case if you want to establish a connection with another device that you yourself own. In this case, the target computer (the one you will be connecting to) will already act as the RDP server in question. RDP itself is a remote desktop protocol developed by Microsoft, and because of the fact that it offers a graphical user interface or GUI for short, it has become one of the most popular and accessible remote desktop protocols in the world. The default port for RDP is transmission channel protocol (TCP) port 22.

How to Choose the Right RDP Server?

There are several key factors playing a part in the RDP server that you are going to choose. Some of these have to do with the nature of the RDP server itself, and others consider the qualities that the service provider must have in order for you to ensure that the final product that you will be getting would have the required quality. 

Shared RDP vs. Admin RDP

First, you need to evaluate your resource usage in order to be able to choose between a shared RDP server or an admin RDP server. The difference between these two is simple. With a shared RDP, you will share an IP address with other users as well as all the resources such as RAM, CPU, Bandwidth, etc. This will have reduced operational capacity as well as security. All of this can be remedied if you instead go for a more expensive but more reliable admin RDP. With admin RDP, you will have all the resources to yourself as well as admin access to make changes as you please as well as a dedicated IP address that will guarantee your safety.

READ
Shared RDP vs. Admin RDP: Know the Difference!

Qualities Desired in an RDP Server Provider

After you have determined the type of RDP server that you want, you now have to consider the qualities that preferably your RDP server provider should have. The first hallmark of credible RDP server providers is the diversity of the services that they offer. This will show that they provide services for different kinds of clients across a spectrum of scales. It will also be an indicator that they will probably pass the next test on the list as well, which is the quality of the connection as determined by latency. The quality of the connection is incredibly important, as it will determine your quality of life throughout your usage tenure with the target server. Security options and a diverse billing cycle, and the payment plan will be the final indicator that the RDP server you are going for has the required quality.

Top Ten Apple Remote Desktop Alternatives

Here we are, finally. Now I am going to rank the top ten Apple remote desktop alternatives. The list itself does not necessarily follow an order and all of these programs are viable alternatives to spending on your needs. But there will be something for everyone!

Zoho Assist

Zoho Assist‘s place on this list emanates from the fact that they are a credible name in the remote access industry and have been for many years. Their macOS version is simply a representation of their capabilities on the platform. It comes with its own set of custom features, including a mac to mac and mac to Windows connection. It also features online chat, multi-screen support, and even multi-session support, so you can establish more than one connection at a time and manage multiple servers. Zoho also has versions for Android, iOS, and Microsoft Windows. A unique feature of Zoho Assist is the fact that they allow you to customize its interface to reflect your brand identity (logo, visuals, etc.) in business meetings and server management sessions. Zoho Assist is a paid service; however, they do have a free trial for testing lasting 15 days, as well as official tech support. A true all-in-one package.

AnyDesk

AnyDesk is one of the names you are most likely to have read or heard before when it comes to remote access software. It is one of the oldest and most credible remote access clients in the world. AnyDesk is known for its incredibly easy-to-use installation and user interface. It is designed to be installed and be immediately ready to go. It comes on a host of different platforms in addition to macOS, including Windows, iOS, Android, etc. Anydesk supports intra-platform support, which means you can use it to establish RDP connections from one operating system to another. It also has a web version that eliminates the need for installation entirely and enables you to establish an RDP connection on your mac device in an instant. AnyDesk has two plans, a free base version and a paid plan that comes with additional features. Both are great and will go a long way in helping you replace Apple’s remote desktop.

TeamViewer

Out of all the remote desktop programs out there, TeamViewer is probably the most well-known alongside its archrival AnyDesk, and for a good reason. Not only does it have the most diverse service set, but it also has the largest user base and market share out of any Apple remote desktop alternative. The influence and popularity of TeamViewer have made them a partner of globally recognized brands such as Manchester United. As far as performance goes, there is little that TeamViewer can’t do. There is multi-platform support, intra-platform connections, multimedia support, high security, remote hardware control including reboot options, multi-session support, designated access lists, cloud-based support, and much more. TeamViewer even has a unique intra-device drag and drop feature that enables incredibly easy file transfer. TeamViewer also has a free and paid plan that you can choose between depending on your needs. You can also read my article on the comparison between AnyDesk vs. TeamViewer to get a more in-depth detailing of programs!

LogMeIn

LogMeIn is another reliable remote access software that you can use as Apple’s remote desktop tool. LogMeIn is best suited for large corporations that need to run large remote access sessions for presentation and project management because it does not have a session or user limit, and you can make very large servers and manage their shared and admin privileges. LogMeIn is known for its incredible base level of security, which features anti-DDoS measures. For all its technical advantages that make LogMeIn a perfect choice for the members of the IT community and developers as well as large corporations, it has a number of flaws. These include a lack of compatibility for mac to Windows connection as well as an underdeveloped email client system. Still, it comes closest to replicating a pure mac to mac connection, and therefore it replicates Apple Remote Desktop the best. If you exclusively work in a company with mac to mac basis, then LogMeIn is great.

VNC Connect

VNC Connect is another trustworthy Apple remote desktop client that allows access between multiple devices through intra-platform compatibility, enabling you to have global access between your devices regardless of your current location. VNC Connect highly prioritizes security in their client, featuring end-to-end 128-bit AES encryption, which can be upgraded to a 256-bit version on the enterprise paid version on all of your sessions which will keep your data safe even if a potential security breach were to happen. To bolster security, they also have multi-factor and advanced authentication as well as granular access control. This granular control feature allows you to precisely define privileges and permissions for each user group as well as individual users within the server. You can also share files seamlessly between devices, perform real-time chat, and record your session, which, coupled with the aforementioned security, makes it a perfect tool for companies and the IT community alike.

Remmina

Remmina is a little bit of an odd pickle considering that it runs not on RDP, but instead on the GTK+ remote access protocol. While most other Apple remote desktop alternatives focus primarily on the user itself, Remmina has a different approach. It is a server manager that also acts as a remote desktop client, but the overall focus of the program is once again to enable admins and managers of businesses to manage large servers with many users, commonly used in the workplace. Remmina features easy installation progress, which is a major plus for macOS users who usually do not delve into the technical aspects of such tools. Remmina also has access to plugins which makes it unique. With these plugins, you can get access to additional protocols such as RDP and SSH. You can also boost up your security and go for other plugins such as SPICE, SFTP, EXEC, etc.

Chrome Remote Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop  can be considered the direct competitor to Apple Remote Desktop. It is an extension and on-web software that can be accessed via Google’s Chrome browser and uses a rather straightforward custom protocol to establish a remote access connection between two devices. Chrome Remote Desktop is rather barren and has a much more straightforward approach to remote access. This is the reason it is free and readily available on every instance of Chrome installed in the world. While it is free and very easy to use, Chrome Remote Desktop leaves much to be desired if you are looking for a rival to most of the other options on this list. For example, it does not have a live chat, and the security is rather lackluster. But if a simple, pain-free remote access connection for basic tasks is all that you’re after, then Chrome Remote Desktop is a decent enough alternative to Apple’s Remote Desktop.

mRemoteNG

mRemoteNG is a very well-known name to a lot of developers and members of the IT community. It is an open-source program designed to establish remote access between devices. mRemoteNG has by far the most supported protocols. You can choose which protocol to use. For example, if you don’t need a graphical interface, you can use the SSH protocol for your coding and lightweight tasks. mRemoteNG also supports other protocols, such as RDP, VNC (Virtual Network Computing), SSH (Secure Shell), Telnet (TELecommunication NETwork), HTTP/HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), rlogin (Remote Login), Raw Socket Connections Powershell remoting, etc. mRemoteNG is also highly secure. It uses GitHub to establish chain proxies if you wish. This makes it highly versatile and compatible with different protocols and makes it a very secure and compatible platform for VPS connections also. All of this together makes mRemoteNG perhaps the most flexible of all the programs on this list, a jack of all trades.

RustDesk

Contrary to its name, RustDesk is not rusty at all. In fact, as far as Apple remote desktop alternatives go, it is quite quick with excellent connection quality and latency. RustDesk comes in two formats, an installed version, and a portable version. This portable version makes it readily accessible on any cloud or small hardware and enables you to work with it anywhere and at any time. RustDesk has excellent platform coverage between different devices. It has versions for Linux, Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. It also has a high level of security, featuring end-to-end encryption, RustDesk is quite lightweight when it comes to system requirements and can run on legacy devices. It has a very easy-to-use interface. It has a UI featuring a built-in console, and you can even use the program to self-host. A very well-designed all-around program that will cover your needs as a remote desktop for mac tool.

ConnectWise Control

ConnectWise Control presents itself as an all-in-one package fit for “individuals, IT teams, and remote workers.” And it really does go the extra mile to cover the needs of all of these user bases. It features high levels of compatibility as it comes on multiple different platforms and also offers a connection between different platforms. So you can connect your mac device to another device with another OS. It is highly customizable for brands, which makes it a premier tool for repair organizations that use remote access to solve issues for their customers. You can customize your connection to represent your brand in such interactions or even make your workplace remote access server brand aware with these customizations. As a cherry on top, it also features granular permissions, advanced user management, and customer support as part of the paid plan.

Choosing the Best Apple RDP Client for You?

Choosing the right Apple remote desktop alternative can be a little bit tricky. There are a lot of options and it can be confusing to the point that some users prefer to bite the bullet and keep using the Apple remote desktop for the time being instead of going through the trouble of choosing a viable alternative. While all the options on this list are viable as an Apple remote desktop client, keeping track of all the qualities and keeping up with a lengthy comparison can be difficult. I personally find reputable options such as TeamViewer and AnyDesk famous for a reason, and I would highly recommend them as an Apple remote desktop alternative. Still, I will put a summarized comparison table to make the decision easier for you. If connecting via RDP between a Windows device and a macOS device is what you’re after, then check out our guide on how to connect to Windows VPS via RDP on macOS.

Multi-Platform Multi-Session Support Intra-Device Compatiblity Ease of Use Free Veriosn?
AnyDesk Yes Yes Yes Very High Yes
TeamViewer Yes Yes Yes High Yes
LogMeIn Yes Yes No Average Trial
VNC Connect Yes Yes Yes High Yes
Remmina Yes Yes Yes Average Yes
Chrome Remote Desktop Yes No Yes High Yes
RustDesk Yes Yes Yes Average Yes
Zoho Assist Yes Yes Yes High Trial
ConnectWise Control Yes Yes Yes Low Yes
mRemoteNG Yes Yes Yes Low Yes

Conclusion

As previously mentioned, unless you have two devices of your own that you want to connect to each other using an Apple remote desktop alternative, you are going to need a server to connect to with any of these aforementioned clients. This is where Cloudzy comes in. Cloudzy specializes in highly configurable VPS servers using the RDP protocol. You can use these servers to perform both shared as well as admin RDP hosting for your workplace or your ongoing project. Featuring high quality of connection and low latency, as well as more than 15 different server locations to choose from. Cloudzy’s servers are highly customizable depending on your needs, and you can get your own RDP server on Cloudzy while being sure of the quality. We even offer a seven-day money-back guarantee.

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FAQ

Is there a Remote Desktop equivalent for macOS?

Yes. Apple remote desktop is the macOS equivalent to Windows’ RDP. However, despite its great performance for mac to mac connections, it falters in many other areas, and therefore a lot of users instead choose to look for Apple remote desktop alternatives.

Is Apple Remote Desktop Free?

Yes. Like Windows’ RDP, the protocol itself is free and is also exclusive to Apple and its devices. All you need to use it is a macOS device.

Can I Remotely Access My Windows Device from a Mac?

Yes. Both the RDP developed by Microsoft as well as Apple’s remote desktop feature on macOS allow intra-platform connectivity and can connect to each other.

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