I'm having trouble finding a VNC server for Mac OS X that allows me to connect from a Windows box with German keyboard layout. I've tried the built-in desktop sharing and several versions of Vine but all of them had problems with several keys.

Does maybe anyone know about a working combination of a Mac OS X VNC server and Windows VNC client which properly supports a German keyboard layout on the client?

Update: I don't think the Windows client is the problem, because I have no issues connecting to Linux boxes. And I've tried several different clients.

  • 2
    This is a good article explaining why it is hard to get it right: cafbit.com/entry/apple_remote_desktop_quirks
    – xverges
    Apr 11, 2013 at 18:04
  • Wow, quite old question, still relevant. I use Remmina from Linux to connect to a Macbook. Everything works except ~ (tilde). Switching the keyboard from German to US-International on the Macbook made my German keyboard fully work over VNC.
    – zoechi
    Apr 9, 2020 at 8:04

9 Answers 9


First: I am answering your question. I cannot believe the number of posts which are not even addressing your question-at-hand.

I don't know how to verify this for sure.. but.. I have Mac OS 10.4.11 with OSXvnc and I am connecting with UltraVNC client, from Windows.

I use a US keyboard layout in UltraVNC client, and (I've never used German keyboard layout before, so let me know if I'm doing something wrong) I select "German" from the International preference pane.

When I open TextEdit, typing the QWER row produces: qwertzuiop.

Typing the numerical row with Shift held down produces: !"§$%&/()=

So, I guess what I did was: use US layout from Windows client. Set German layout on server.

  • 1
    some of the characters on an international keyboard are accessed using the Alt-Gr character. For example accents on a Spanish keyboard. If it want to get the tilde character on the Mac I press Alt-Gr+ñ, Via TightVNC to the Mac this is not possible.
    – grantc
    Jun 24, 2009 at 9:39
  • I'll try and reproduce this when I get home, if I can. I wouldn't know how to try to reproduce a Gr character on a US keyboard. Good luck with your endeavor, though!
    – mpbloch
    Jun 24, 2009 at 20:01
  • 1
    I gave you a +1 just for answering the actual question.
    – Bill Weiss
    Jun 24, 2009 at 22:05
  • I meant the Alt-Gr key, located next to the space bar on my dell keyboard.
    – grantc
    Jun 25, 2009 at 12:30
  • This works great, many thanks (US setting on Windows PC). Just the AltGr is not working. Oct 24, 2014 at 16:38

I had this problem also with the built-in Apple Remote Desktop, and I have almost solved it. In my case, I use a spanish version of Windows and Mac, and I'm connecting to the Mac from the Windows machine through RealVnc (the Mac is using the built-in VNC server, because it's running Snow Leopard).

So, the trick is to select in Mac the ISO variant of your keyboard layout. In my case is "Spanish ISO", and in Windows select the "English USA" layout.

This way I can use my spanish keyboard through VNC with some little and annoying problems: I can't type the '(' symbol, and some keys are still swapped.

The definitive solution is to use RealVNC Enterprise server in Mac, and the viewer in Windows, and all problems are gone :)

  • Thanks, thanks, thanks! After lots and lots of wasted hours looking at keyboard layouts, failing to compile TigerVNC with macports, compiling x11vnc... I finally installed RealVNC on both ends, and, keyboard-wise, everything is working perfectly: AltGr chars, dead keys and accents, alt-tab... More than happy to be paying them. However, I'm a bit disappointed of not being able to have concurrent users with their own desktop each. But that's just a minor issue after having escaped from the keyboard layout hell I've been dealing with.
    – xverges
    Apr 11, 2013 at 0:24
  • I have to clarify that I'm not using RealVNC Enterprise, but only RealVNC Personal. Haven't verified if it works with RealVNC Free, but I would bet it does.
    – xverges
    Apr 11, 2013 at 15:24
  • There is no free version of this, is there? Oct 24, 2014 at 17:10

The short answer is no.

I have the same problem with a Spanish keyboard connected to an Ubuntu box VNC'd in to a Mac Mini. It was looking hopeful with the people behind OSXVnc looking into it. My solution is to re-connect my keyboard to the Mac, since they are on the same desk...


What about TightVNC as a client? I've had to use it to connect to OSX Server's default ARD setup from Linux, but I'm not sure about kb support either.


Did you try to tell your mac to use a PC keyboard using the German layout?

I seem to recall having used my Mac Mini with a Swiss PC keyboard that way.

  • There's no issue with directly connecting a German keyboard to the Mac. What doesn't work properly is connecting from a Windows system with a German keyboard to a Mac over VNC.
    – user6955
    Jun 2, 2009 at 7:04

If you need to use the client to view the Windows Desktop from mac. use "Chicken of the VNC", free VNC client for Mac OS X. Since I am not allowed to add hyperlinks, add the http part yourself to the links:


Connecting is easy, just enter the server IP address and password. Now you can view your Windows Desktop from a remote location. You can also connect from across the internet.

Now, what if you want to connect to your Mac OS X from another computer? I would suggest you using OSXVNC. Here's the link for it:


Hope this helps...

  • 1
    I want to connect from Windows to Mac OS X. I'm actually using the testplant server, but they still haven't fixed all the international keyboard issues, not even in the 3.1 beta.
    – user6955
    Jun 2, 2009 at 6:59

For a windows client that connects to a Mac server, it might be worth coughing up the money for Apple's client. I can't find a link right now, but I know they have one.

Using VNC from Windows to the Mac is far more frustrating than using the Mac-native client.


Short version : change either the client or the server layout to US English, and it will mostly work (don't change both, of course; only one of them).

To quote the end of the excellent article which Xv linked to in his comment:

The usual advice [...] is to change the keyboard mapping on either the client or the server.

The reason for this weird Mac behavior is well explained in the linked article.

So, after connecting to a Mac server from my Windows or Linux client, I change the layout on the Mac to US English. Then, my foreign layout sort-of mostly works as expected on the Mac. Some characters still don't work or are unavailable.

The alternative solution is to leave the Mac layout as it is, but switch the client to the US layout instead. That also sort-of mostly works, but slightly differently. The resulting layout is again similar to your normal foreign layout, but some characters still don't work as expected or are unavailable. However, they are not exactly the same as when switching the client layout.

Another possible solution could be to not use VNC at all, but try the NX NoMachine server and client instead. (I haven't tried this myself, so I'm not sure if it would solve the layout problem)


You can connect to a Mac through command line SSH. You would not be viewing the screen of the Mac, but you would have full control over it like you were sitting in front of it submitting commands through Terminal.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy