I remote login into my Pi using TightVNC Viewer. Now I can see Pi GUI. But when I do raspistill -o 0.jpg I can't see the display of the picamera on my TightVNC Viewer's window?

What I want is that while I am recording from my picamera I should be able to see the stream of camera at a remote desktop viewer's(like VNC) screen. One way of doing that is using a webserver but that seems overkill. Is there a any other way?

I read that Camera is laid onto HDMI monitor as a separate entity not a part of Desktop. Can I make the camera to stream to TightVNC viewer's window?

  • 1
    Do you mean that you cannot see the direct output of the camera? If you just save a picture, you must open it, of course... Earlier I also tried to see camera stream on vnc, but it was always a direct communication with videocard, vnc did not transfer that...
    – jaromrax
    May 15, 2015 at 11:03
  • I know webserver way of streaming but I am asking is there any similar way? Like I remote desktop on pi using VNC and see what camera is recording? I am not asking you to do my job.
    – Coderaemon
    May 15, 2015 at 11:10
  • @jaromrax If you use raspistill -o foo.jpg directly on the pi with a monitor plugged in, it does display the camera stream for a few seconds. I'd guess this is a trick manipulating the GPU though, which is probably why it would not come through w/ VNC.
    – goldilocks
    May 15, 2015 at 11:16
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    Indeed; the camera's preview is rendered by the GPU onto the video output directly. Neither the X server (nor frankly anything running on the CPU as opposed to the GPU) ever sees the preview, so there's no way to transmit it via VNC. Even if there was, VNC (and its compression) is optimized for largely static desktops - the bandwidth for full video would be awful. So no: if you want a video preview on another machine you need to look at proper streaming solutions - you won't get there through VNC.
    – Dave Jones
    May 15, 2015 at 17:37
  • @DaveJones so none of the remote desktop clients will work? One solution I found elinux.org/RPi-Cam-Web-Interface works okay. Is there any other solution you know of?
    – Coderaemon
    May 16, 2015 at 5:33

1 Answer 1


You cannot display the preview image via VNC. VNC only relays the display information from the X server.

The preview image is displayed by directly manipulating the GPU overlaying the preview on top of what ever is currently displayed (that's why it works in the text console too). This bypasses the X server and thus VNC.

  • So none of the Remote Desktop clients will work? One Streaming solution I found elinux.org/RPi-Cam-Web-Interface works okay. Is there any other solution you know of?
    – Coderaemon
    May 16, 2015 at 5:31
  • There are several options for streaming the captured video but there is no way to remotely view the live preview.
    – Craig
    May 18, 2015 at 16:21

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