Looking for a quick and easy way to access your Windows, Mac or Linux machine from an Apple device, Android device, or even from another Windows, Mac or Linux machine? If so, there is a really, really good working solution: Chrome remote desktop.
To use it, all you need is Google Chrome installed on your phone, tablet or computer. After setting everything up, I will explain below that you can access any computer from your phone, tablet or other computer. This means I can remotely control my Windows machine from my iPhone, Nexus 6 and Mac laptops without having to worry about port forwarding, dynamic DNS, different operating systems or whatever something else.
The great thing about using Google Chrome is that it takes about 5 minutes to set up and actually less than that if you already have Chrome installed on your device.
Install Chrome Remote Desktop
The first thing we need to do is install Google Chrome itself on your computer. Because Chrome can be installed on Windows, Mac or Linux, that means you can also remotely access any operating system.
Once you have installed Chrome, you need to install it Chrome remote desktop. Click on it Add to Chrome button at the top right. A popup window will appear with the permissions that the application needs to function properly. Click Add application to continue if you are acceptable to the permissions.
At this point, the application should be installed and a new tab will appear where you can see all the applications already installed in Chrome. If this tab does not appear, simply open a new tab and enter chrome: // application /.
You will see a new icon called Chrome Remote Desktop. Go ahead and click on it to start the application. In the new window, you will see two parts: Remote support and My computer. To get started, we need to click Begin button below My Computer. If you already have Chrome installed on your computer, you'll need to sign in first with your Google account, otherwise everything will turn gray.
Go ahead and click Activate remote connection button.
You will then receive a popup message asking you to install it Chrome Remote Desktop server installer program into your computer. Essentially, this is a remote desktop client that allows each device to remotely access other devices.
The file will download to your computer (.MSI for Windows, .DMG for Mac, etc.) and you will have to run manually to install the software. When you do, you'll get another window that now asks you to enter the pin of at least six digits that you'll need to use to connect to the remote computer. I suggest you use a different code for each computer, instead of the same code.
Click OK and you will receive a notification that the remote connections are enabled for the computer. When I do this on my Mac, another window pops up and I have to re-enter the pin code to activate the remote connection.
Again, you should go ahead and follow this procedure on all computers you want to be able to access remotely. Note that you only need to install it on Mac and Windows and access the Mac from Windows or vice versa. If you install the application on your phone, you can access your desktop computer from an Apple or Android device. Unfortunately, the Chrome Remote Desktop app is not yet available in the Microsoft Apps store.
Remote connection to your computer
Now for the fun part! Get started by connecting to desktop using an Android device. On your phone, go to the App Store and download the Chrome Remote Desktop app. Here are the links:
Open the app and log in with your Google account. It is worth noting that you will need to be signed in to Google Chrome on all your devices to connect between devices. The application interface is very simple and easy to use. It also looks identical on Android and Apple devices.
You will immediately receive a list of activated computers logged in with the same Google account. Click on the computer name and it will ask you for the pin code.
You can also tick a box so it doesn't ask for a pin anymore when connecting from that particular device. Press Connect And now you will see your desktop computer on your phone or tablet!
You will also see an overlay bar at the top with a few icons. The first button is a mouse button that will be blue or gray (on Apple devices). If it's blue, it means you can control the actual mouse pointer with your finger. If you touch it, it will turn gray, then your finger will become a mouse pointer. On Android, it rotates between mouse icon and finger icon.
The keyboard icon displays a virtual keyboard that you can use to type. The small square button will go full screen and clear the overlay bar so you can see the entire screen. If you click the three vertical dots in the right corner, you can send CTRL + ALT + DEL to the desktop.
So how about connecting between desktops? That is really easy too. Just open the Chrome Remote Desktop app on your computer and then click on any computer listed in the section My computer part.
Enter your pin code and a new window will appear with the desktop of your remote computer. The great thing about using Chrome, as I mentioned before, is that this works over the Internet and you don't have to worry about opening or forwarding ports on your router.
From my testing, only one device at a time could connect to the computer. If the second connection goes through, the first connection will be automatically disconnected. It is also worth noting that the resolution of the remote computer is what will be used on the host computer. For example, I connected from my Windows PC a resolution of 2560 × 1440 to a Mac computer with a resolution of 1440 × 900 and I only needed a 1440 × 900 window when using Chrome Remote Desktop.
Even when I expanded it to full screen, the Mac desktop stayed at 1440 × 900 on my Windows machine. If I connect the other way, the app has two options to help: Resize desktop accordingly and Zoom out to fit. The first option is supposed to change the resolution on the remote computer and the second option simply changes the screen size on the host computer.
Overall, because it's completely free and gives me the ability to connect to almost any computer using a lot of different devices, Chrome Remote Desktop is awesome. Obviously, there are plenty of other options out there that might be able to do more than Chrome, but some of the costs and other things require more complicated setup. For an easy-to-use remote desktop solution that people can work right away, see Chrome Remote Desktop. Enjoy!