Getting started with guest desktop sharing
Start your journey to the next level of remote computing
Guest desktop sharing makes it easier to share your desktop with users who don't have a system account on your computer. For example, when you need on-the-fly assistance for troubleshooting a technical problem you're having, or if you have asked a colleague to connect to your desktop to collaborate from remote, you can use guest desktop sharing. Guest desktop sharing requires you, the desktop owner, to be present on the desktop in order to accept an incoming connection from a guest user. Read on to know how to get started with NoMachine’s exciting new feature.
without giving them a user account?
Steps for the desktop owner
Step 1: Check that guest desktop sharing is enabled on your computer
- In order to be able to accept connections from other users with whom you want to share your desktop using the guest desktop sharing feature, you must have version 8 installed. Guest desktop sharing is enabled by default in the free version of NoMachine. In the NoMachine for Enterprise products it must be explicitly enabled.
- On the computer that you are working on, open NoMachine and proceed to Server Settings.
- In Security, check that the box for 'Guest desktop sharing' is ticked.
- Also make sure that the 'Desktop is shared' option at the bottom right of the NoMachine Player is on. If it is greyed out, it won’t be possible to remotely connect to the desktop and you will not able to receive incoming guest user connections.
Fig. 1 - Guest desktop sharing and Desktop shared must be both enabled on your desktop
Step 2: Retrieve your computer’s URL
- Open the NoMachine UI of your installation and retrieve from the welcome panel the external IP address and port of your computer. In order to remotely access your computer from outside your own network, this is IP:18.104.22.168 on port 30001 in the example in Fig. 2. If you have disabled the Welcome Panels, you can retrieve the computer’s public URL and port by going to Server Settings > Status.
- Share this information with your friend or colleague who is going to connect to your computer as a guest user. They will need to insert it in the connection panel of their NoMachine Player by following the steps of the section just below: How to connect to the desktop as a guest.
Fig. 2 - Retrieve your computer’s URL
Step 3: The guest user starts a NoMachine connection
- If you have requested assistance from a colleague or friend, when that person initiates a connection to your desktop, whether they're connecting as a guest or with username and password, a message will appear in your system tray from the incoming guest (Fig. 3).
- Provided the guest has identified themselves correctly and you wish to let them connect, click 'Accept' or 'View-only' depending on the aim of the desktop sharing session. To allow them to deploy the mouse and keyboard, you should select 'Accept'. Selecting view-only means that connecting guests cannot interact with your desktop in any way.
Fig. 3 - The desktop owner can refuse or accept the incoming connection
Step 4: The guest is connected
- Once accepted, the guest user is connected (Fig. 8) and an onscreen pop-up appears to remind you that the desktop is currently viewed.
- You can disconnect them at any time from your desktop’s system tray selecting 'Disconnect' of a specific user or all users.
Fig. 4 - Once the guest has connected, a pop-up notification alerts the desktop owner
Some security best practices and considerations:
- As desktop owner, you're the final decision maker concerning who you share your desktop with.
- Only accept connections from guests who you are expecting.
- Do not accept connections from unidentified IP addresses.
- If you selected 'View-only' for a specific guest in the pop-notification, this can be changed later on by right-clicking on the NoMachine icon in the system tray and selecting the user from the ‘Connected users’ list. From there you can toggle their view-only/interactive mode (Fig. 5).
- If guests are connected in interactive mode, the desktop owner always has priority control over the local mouse and keyboard.
- Remember that you can disconnect guests at any time from the system tray selecting 'Disconnect' of a specific user or all users (Fig. 6).
Fig. 5 - The desktop owner can disconnect users as well as toggle between interactive and view-only mode
Fig. 6 – The desktop owner can check from the !M icon in the system tray who is connected
Steps for the guest
Step 1: Start a connection
- If you wish to connect to someone else's desktop as a guest, make sure you have version 8 installed. Then you can start a connection.
- Open NoMachine on your computer and go to the Machines panel.
- The owner of the desktop you want to connect to should provide you with the URL of their computer.
- Proceed to 'Add' and create your connection by inserting the IP address and port of their computer that they gave you. If the computer you want to connect to is already in your Machines panel, double click on it to start.
- Click 'Connect'.
Fig. 7 - The Machines tab: select the computer you want to connect to
Step 2: Choose to log in as guest
- The connecting user is presented with two ways to log in to the computer: as a guest or using the traditional method with system credentials. If the Guest option is not there, it means that guest desktop sharing is not enabled.
- As a guest without an account, you should select 'Request access as a guest for desktop sharing' (Fig. 8).
Fig. 8 - Select 'Request access as a guest for desktop sharing' to connect to the target desktop
Step 3: Send a message to identify yourself
- The connecting guest can personalize a message to the desktop owner when making a request to connect and this will pop up from their system tray.
- Click 'Send'.
Fig. 9 - Type an appropriate message for the owner of the desktop you want to connect to
Step 4: Wait for authorization
- Wait for the desktop owner to authorize your connection (Fig. 10).
- Upon authorization you will be connected to their desktop, either in view-only or interactive mode.
Fig. 10 - The desktop owner must authorize your connection
Fig. 11 - Once authorized by the desktop owner you will see their desktop