We’ve all been there before: we’re in the office, or away from home, and suddenly we realize that we need a particular file or document that’s on another computer. What’s more, the files aren’t on Dropbox or any other cloud storage. This would usually lead to a lot of frustration, but that’s where remote desktop applications come into play. There are a quite a few out there. Even Google has its own remote desktop application, Chrome Remote Desktop.
Chrome Remote Desktop is, like any other remote desktop application, an application that lets you remotely access a particular computer from almost any other computer that’s connected to the Internet. The functionality isn’t new, but with the Google integration, it’s definitely a very convenient remote desktop solution.
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Getting Started With Remote Desktop
As the name implies, Chrome Remote Desktop is a Chrome application, thus you need Google Chrome to at least be installed in your computer. Once the application is installed, you can run it from either Chrome’s Apps screen or the Chrome App Launcher. There’s also a version for Android, letting you access your computers from your smartphone.
The app will open a new tab in Google Chrome. The first time you run the app, it’ll ask you to grant extended access permissions for the computer you’re using.
Click on Continue, and you’ll be shown the permissions that Chrome Remote Desktop requires. If you’re logged in to multiple Google accounts, you’ll also have to choose which of the Google accounts you want to use for Chrome Remote Desktop.
Click Accept after making your choices, and you’ll be taken to the app’s main screen.
Clicking on Get started under My Computers will show you an option to Enable remote connections. Here, the setup for PC and Mac will differ slightly.
Setup On PC
Clicking this will bring up a pop-up window asking you to input the PIN that will be associated with this computer.
Once you’ve entered the PIN, you’ll be asked to download and install the Chrome Remote Host Service. This will be downloaded and installed automatically.
Setup On Mac
Things are slightly different if you’re using a Mac. Chrome will download a .dmg file that you’ll have to install yourself.
Installation shouldn’t be a problem: just mount the .dmg file, run the Chrome Remote Desktop.mpkg file and follow the on-screen instructions.
Once installation is completed, click on OK. You’ll be asked to enter the PIN for your Mac, much like on a PC. After you click OK, a system dialog will appear asking you to re-enter your PIN.
Click on the padlock in the lower left to unlock the panel. Then enter your PIN once again and click on Enable.
Using Chrome Remote Desktop
Regardless of platform, once you’ve set things up a message should appear saying that remote connections have been enabled.
PC And Mac
Now you’re ready for remote access to or from this particular computer. To access a computer, just go back to the app’s main screen. Under My Computers you should now see all the computers that are set up for Chrome Remote Desktop.
To remotely access a computer, just click on that computer name, enter its PIN and you’re good to go. The current Chrome tab will then switch over to your remote computer.
There’s a drop-down menu at the top of the screen that shows the name of the computer you’re connected to, a Disconnect button plus two more drop-down menus for Send keys and Screen options.
The Send keys drop down lets you send Ctrl + Alt + Del and Print Screen keys to the remote computer. The Screen options menu lets you enable or disable Resize desktop to fit, Shrink to fit or even go Full screen.
You can use the remote computer as you would normally. You can copy text between the remote and local computer, and Chrome Remote Desktop will even play audio from the remote computer, so you can listen to music or even watch a movie remotely.
Connecting With Android
Connecting to a computer using the Android app isn’t all that different. When you open the app, you should see a list of all the computers linked to your Google account. Just tap on the computer you want to access and type in its PIN.
The actual remote interface is similar to the desktop experience, albeit with the proper adaptations for a smaller, touch-screen interface. There’s a Help screen accessible from the navicon in the upper menu bar, alongside Disconnect and Ctrl + Alt + Del actions.
Chrome Remote Desktop doesn’t exactly stand out in terms of features, and the remote connection does slightly compromise image quality and speed, but it’s arguable that the biggest appeal of the app is the Chrome and Google integration. The fact that it’s a Chrome application and links to your Google account means that it’s easy to set up and get running anywhere and anytime you happen to need a remote connection to one of your other computers.