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Access your PCs from afar with Google's free, simple Chrome Remote Desktop software

Ian Paul | May 14, 2014
Thanks to cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive it's pretty easy to access your files from anywhere. Even so, there are still times when you need remote access to your desktop while on the go.

Thanks to cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive it's pretty easy to access your files from anywhere. Even so, there are still times when you need remote access to your desktop while on the go.

That's where Google's handy Remote Desktop browser extension for Chrome comes in. With Chrome Remote Desktop installed and enabled, you can access your PC from any other PC that has Chrome installed, or from your Android device. (An iOS app is planned for later this year.)

Chrome Remote Desktop is both free and dead-simple to use, unlike most other remote desktop options. Here's how use it.

Preparing your remote desktop

For this tool to work, you'll need to have the Chrome browser and Google's Chrome Remote Desktop extension installed on all PCs that you plan to access, or access another PC from.

Once the extension is installed, click on the Apps button on Chrome's bookmarks bar. Then select Chrome Remote Desktop  in the tab that opens.

With Chrome Remote Desktop open, you'll be asked to give the extension "extended access permissions" to your PC by clicking Continue. This process is really self-explanatory and includes choosing a Google account to associate with Chrome Remote Desktop. That way, you can just sign in to Chrome on any PC and be able to access your list of PCs.

After that's done, you should see two options: Connect to a computer to offer remote assistance or access your own computers. Tap the Get started button under "My Computers."

You'll then see a list of PCs connected to your account. If this is the first time using Chrome Remote Desktop then you'll only see one PC, which is the one you're currently on. 

Since this is the first time using the service, you'll see an Enable remote connections button. This is required if you plan on accessing the PC remotely. Tap the button and you'll be asked to create a PIN to associate with the PC. After a few seconds you will also be asked to enter that PIN a second time in a new window. All the PCs that use Chrome Remote Desktop require a PIN to prevent unauthorized access. 

After that's done you are all set-up and ready to access your PC remotely. 

Accessing PCs

Let's say you're on a laptop and you want to access your desktop at home, with the Chrome Remote Desktop extension already installed and set-up on both.

Simply open the extension and click on your home PC from the list of computers in the remote access list, then enter the home PC's PIN in the pop-up window that appears. A few seconds later you'll have complete access to your PC at home within the Chrome tab — assuming the PC you're trying to connect to is on and connected to the Internet, of course. (More on that later.)

 

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