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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.

When you enter your PIN to access a remote PC you also have the option of telling Chrome Remote Desktop to not prompt you for the PIN in the future. Just keep in mind that if you enable this feature, anyone who has access to your laptop could then gain access to your desktop at home.

Remote desktop on Android

Accessing a PC on Android is almost the same as on a PC. You just install the app from Google Play, launch it, choose the PC you want to connect to, enter the PIN and you're all set.

Navigating your desktop on Android takes a little getting used to, but you'll get the hang of it after a few minutes. You can also use the pinch-to-zoom feature of your mobile device to zoom in or out of a specific location on your desktop.

Read: Hands-on: Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android makes remote access easy

But don't be fooled: You can't just tap a taskbar icon as if your remote PC were a touch device. You'll still need to drag the mouse pointer across the screen to take actions such as launching an app, opening the control panel, or even shutting down the PC. Tapping your screen functions as a mouse click.

Also keep in mind that the Chrome Remote Desktop for Android is for accessing your PCs alone, and cannot be used to access your mobile device remotely.

Things to remember

There are also a few downsides to using Chrome Remote Desktop on a PC. The first one being that you cannot make the screen size any bigger. The full screen option you see at the top of the screen isn't really that — it should be called distraction-free mode, since all it does is black out the rest of your PC screen so that you can only see the remote desktop. It doesn't actually expand your view.

You also have to be sure that your PC power settings aren't set to put your PC to sleep when idle, as Google's browser extension cannot be used to wake and access a sleeping PC.

Nevertheless, when you have to access a PC from far away, Chrome Remote Desktop is a very reliable, very easy, and utterly free way to do it.

 

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