Warning: The document below does not apply to TightVNC 2.0 and later versions.
TightVNC is available as a self-installing setup executable. Just run it, and you will see a
familiar installation wizard which will allow you to read the installation notes, choose the
target directory, set installation options and so on.
After the setup program is finished, new "TightVNC" section will appear in the
Start->Programs menu. If you would like to have TightVNC started automatically and run
even while there is no user logged in, you should install it as a system service using the
corresponding menu item from the TightVNC Administration section. Note that installing the
WinVNC service is the only way to make Ctrl-Alt-Del work remotely (applicable only to Windows
TightVNC defaults to install to the Program Files\TightVNC directory, but you can
choose any other location during the installation. Note that TightVNC does not install
anything in the system directory so an alternative way to install TightVNC is to just copy
the executable and DLL files into any directory you like (but in this case you'll have
to create shortcuts to the programs manually).
If you want to install TightVNC on a number of computers, and do not want to repeatedly enter
the same password on each machine, install TightVNC once and set the password, then copy the
registry settings to other computers. TightVNC settings can be found in the following
sections in the registry:
The TightVNC installer can work in silent mode and not ask questions during installation (but
it's possible that it might show message boxes if there are any errors). In this mode
TightVNC will be installed into the default directory, that is, the TightVNC
subdirectory in the Program Files). Here is the command line to install TightVNC in
tightvnc-1.3.10-setup.exe /sp- /verysilent
TightVNC servers can be upgraded remotely. This means that you can perform the TightVNC
installation working in an active TightVNC session. While the TightVNC service is running,
it's impossible to replace its executable files in place, so the installer will copy new
files into a temporary location, and these new files will replace older versions during the
next reboot. The installer will prompt for reboot if it was not able to replace the
Before using this feature, you should read and understand the following:
- Remote upgrade requires rebooting the computer. If you want to be able to access
your computer after the reboot, make sure you're running WinVNC as a service,
not in the application mode.
- If you're running WinVNC service from some another VNC distribution, this
installation procedure won't replace it with the TightVNC service by default.
This is a limitation that may be solved in future versions. However, there is a way
to perform such an upgrade: install TightVNC into the same directory where old VNC
files (WinVNC.exe and VNCHooks.dll) are installed. In this case,
old binaries will be replaced by the new ones during the reboot, and there will be no
need to re-install the service. Please note that the installer should show you the
reboot prompt at the end of the installation, otherwise you probably selected wrong
- There is a number of things that can prevent the machine to reboot correctly, and
that can cause losing the control over the computer. In other words, there is NO
WARRANTY that the remote upgrade procedure is absolutely reliable. To minimize
possible risks, close all the running applications (besides the WinVNC service
itself) before launching the TightVNC installer.
TightVNC, like normal VNC, has two parts: the Server (also referred to as WinVNC), which
shares the screen of the machine it's running on, and the Viewer which shows the remote
screen received from the server. So to get started, you need to run a server on the machine
you want to access remotely, and connect to it with a viewer. TightVNC distribution for
Windows includes both the server and viewer parts.
Running a Server (WinVNC)
TightVNC Server can be started in one of the two ways:
- as an application (for current user only);
- as a Windows service (system-wide operation).
In the application mode, the server can be running only during the current user session, and
will close on the logout. To start WinVNC in the application mode, choose
Start->Programs->TightVNC->Launch TightVNC Server.
To make a machine accessible even while there is no user logged in, and to make the server
start automatically on reboot, the TightVNC Server should be running as a system service. To
install it as a service, choose
Start->Programs->TightVNC->Administration->Install VNC Service. In Windows
95/98/ME that will start the service immediately, while in Windows NT/2000/XP you'll
have to start the service manually from the Control Panel or from the command line (net start
winvnc). In any case, it will be started automatically on the next system reboot. Note that
if the VNC service was started manually, you may have to run
Start->Programs->TightVNC->Administration->Run Service Helper, to make
WinVNC display its tray icon (see below).
Regardless of the way TightVNC Server was started, it will show the Properties window on the
first startup, to let you enter the passwords you will use in the viewer to access the
machine. Until a password is set, TightVNC will not accept incoming network connections.
In the default configuration, each user can have his/her own separate WinVNC password, bit
also there is a special default password used when no user password is available (e.g when
nobody is logged in, or if no user password was set). Note: there is no any predefined
default password in TightVNC, machine-wide password is called "default" just
because it's used when there are no user-specific passwords available.
To set the user password, just access the Properties dialog from the menu, as described
below. If you would like to set the default password, run
Start->Programs->TightVNC->Administration->Show Default Settings.
Note: The caption of the Properties dialog shows either "Current User Properties"
or "Default Local System Properties", depending on which set of settings is edited.
On successful startup, TightVNC will add a small icon to the tray in the system task bar
(notification area). The icon has white background if there are no viewers connected, and
inverted colors when at least one viewer accesses the desktop. Moving the mouse over this
icon shows the IP address of the machine (which can be entered in the remote viewer to access
A normal icon of the TightVNC Server
Mouse over the icon shows IP addresses
Hint showing that TightVNC is
running as a system service
Icon is shown in inverted colors
when viewers are connected
Red border indicates that new
client connections are disabled
Hint showing the reason for
disabling client connections
Right-clicking on the tray icon will bring up a menu:
Menu of the TightVNC Server
The following menu commands are available:
- Properties... - This will cause the Properties dialog to be displayed, allowing
the user to change various parameters of the TightVNC Server. This dialog will also be
displayed on double-clicking the tray icon.
- Add New Client... - This allows outgoing connections to be made from the server
to a viewer started in the "listening" mode. The name of the target viewer
machine and optional display number can be entered in the dialog. Connections created
this way are treated as shared. Such so called "reverse connections" can also
be initiated from the command line using the -connect option.
- Kill All Clients - This will disconnect all currently connected clients from
- Disable New Clients - This will temporarily disable new client connection to the
server. Choose the same menu item to re-enable new client connections. Note that this mode
is not restored on restarting the server.
- About... - Show information about the software.
- Close TightVNC Server - Quit.
Running a Viewer
To view and control a remote desktop where a TightVNC Server is running, you need to run the
TightVNC Viewer. To run the viewer, choose Start->Programs->TightVNC->TightVNC
Viewer. You will see a window allowing to choose which server to connect to.
"New Connection" dialog window
After entering the host name or its IP address (and optionally a display number), choose
"Connect". On successful connection, you will be prompted for your password, and if
the entered password is correct, finally you should see the remote desktop.
Alternatively, you can start the viewer in the listening mode, by using the correspoding
button in the "New Connection" window. In that mode, the viewer's icon will
appear in the system tray, and it will accept reverse connections from TightVNC servers (see
above the description of the WinVNC "Add New Client" menu item).
In the "New Connection" window, you can use built-in context help. To get help on
using a particular control, first click small question button in the window title bar, then
click on that control. Another way to obtain context help is to press F1 key while the
keyboard focus is in the corresponding control.
Using context help
The resulting help window
Using a Web Browser as a Viewer
The VNC servers also contain a small Web server. If you connect to it with a web browser,
the Java version of the viewer will be downloaded automatically, allowing you to access
the remote desktop. Obviously, your Web browser must support Java applets. Also, you
should not use a proxy, to let the Java applet access the remote server directly.
The server listens for HTTP connections on port 5800 + display number. (Remember a WinVNC
machine defaults to the display 0.) So to connect to the display 2 on machine
"myhost", you would point your web browser at: http://myhost:5802/ . The applet
will prompt you for your password, and should then display the desktop.
TightVNC can be uninstalled using the Add/Remove Programs utility under the Control
Panel, but it's also ok to remove the directory you have installed it into
(typically, C:\Program Files\TightVNC). Note that the TightVNC installation
program does not copy any files into the system directory. Before uninstalling TightVNC,
make sure WinVNC is not running and not installed as a service.
For additional information on installation and configuration, see the main documentation page and the TightVNC FAQ.
If you would like to compile the source yourself, please read instructions in the
BUILDING.txt file included in the source archive.