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Use Chrome Remote Desktop to Access Your Computer Anywhere

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While I love the long battery life and easy portability of my new Chromebook, sometimes I just need to access my Mac or PC. To get that done, I’ve been using Chrome Remote Desktop to turn my Chromebook into a terminal for my other machines. That’s a huge help to me, but Chrome can do a lot more, connecting Macs and PCs without a Chrome OS intermediary and providing an easy way for a trusted friend to gain remote access to your computer when you need a little tech support.

In this tutorial, I'll walk you through how Chrome Remote desktop works, and how you can use it to remotely access your PC or Mac no matter where you are.

A Word on Security

Making your computer accessible remotely might sounds like a security risk, but it's actually quite safe. Chrome Remote Desktop is protected by a PIN when used among your own computers and is dependent on an Access Code when opening up your computer to another user. Only you know your PIN, and the Access Code expires at the end of the Remote Assistance session. An unused code will expire after a few minutes if it’s not used, providing further protection, so you can feel quite safe using Chrome Remote Desktop to remotely access your computer. Plus, the entire remote session is AES encrypted over a secure SSL connection, so your data's as safe as your computer itself.

With that, let's get started.

1. Get Chrome Remote Desktop

Step 1

Sign into Google. You need to be logged in to initiate or participate in any screen sharing or remote access sessions.

Step 2

Locate Chrome Remote Desktop in the Chrome Web Store. Click the +Free button to add Chrome Remote Desktop to your computer.

Add Chrome Remote Desktop to Chrome
Add Chrome Remote Desktop to Chrome.

Step 3

Confirm the Chrome Remote Desktop download and allow it access to your computer.

Confirm that you want to download Chrome Remote Desktop
Confirm that you want to download Chrome Remote Desktop.

Step 4

Find Chrome Remote Desktop in the Chrome App Launcher, and click the icon to open the app in Chrome.

Locate Chrome Remote Desktop in Chrome App Launcher
Locate Chrome Remote Desktop in Chrome App Launcher.

2. Remote Assistance

There are two ways to use Chrome Remote Desktop, for user-to-user screen sharing or to access your own computer from another machine.

Use Chrome Remote Desktop to access your own computers or let a friend share your screen
Use Chrome Remote Desktop to access your own computers or let a friend share your screen.

User-to-user screen sharing allows a friend to access your computer, best used to provide technical support. Remote Assistance briefly connects one user to another’s computer inside a Chrome browser tab. If you need a hand with a computer problem or think you can help out a friend having trouble, Remote Assistance can make it a lot easier.

Step 1

Click Get Started under Remote Assistance.

Step 2

To make your computer available to another user, click Share. If you’re going to control a shared computer, click Access.

Share your computer or access another users desktop
Share your computer or access another user's desktop.

Step 3

Chrome Remote Desktop will display an Access Code to the sharing computer. Enter the Access Code on the computer that will control the sharing computer.

Generate a new access code each time you want to share your computer
Generate a new access code each time you want to share your computer.
Enter your friends access code to takeover your friends desktop
Enter your friend's access code to takeover your friend's desktop.

Step 4

Chrome will display a notification to the sharing computer, letting the user know who has access. Click Stop Sharing to end the session.

End the session at any time
End the session at any time.

Step 5

The shared computer’s desktop will appear in the accessing computer’s browser tab. The remote desktop may be distorted or set to a different resolution, so adjust how the shared desktop is displayed. Shrink it to fit in the browser or expand it to fill the screen.

Adjust how the connected desktop is displayed
Adjust how the connected desktop is displayed.

Click Disconnect to end the session. The user on the other end will receive a notification that the computers have been disconnected.

3. Access Your Computers

Add your computers to Chrome Remote Desktop to be able to access them from anywhere. One computer will act as a terminal to access any other computer connected to your Google account. Use your laptop to get at files or even applications on your desktop when you’re away from home.

Step 1

Click Get Started under My Computers.

Step 2

Begin adding your computers by clicking Enable Remote Connections.

Click Enable Remote Connections
Click Enable Remote Connections.

Step 3

Chrome will start downloading the Chrome Remote Desktop Host Installer.

Allow Chrome to download the Installer
Allow Chrome to download the Installer.

Once the download is complete, open the package installer and follow the instructions on screen.

Allow the installer to add the host to your computer
Allow the installer to add the host to your computer.

Step 4

Create a PIN of at least six digits. The PIN will be required to access your computer from another location.

Create a secure PIN
Create a secure PIN.

Tip: If your computer sleeps when idle, it will not be available to connect with Chrome Remote Desktop. Make sure your power management settings keep your computer up and awake so you can access it when necessary.

Make sure your computer doesnt go to sleep before you can connect
Make sure your computer doesn't go to sleep before you can connect.

Step 5

Chrome Remote Desktop Host Preferences will prompt you for a PIN. Enter the PIN you just created and click Enable. In Mac OS X, find this window again in System Preferences.

Enter the PIN you just created
Enter the PIN you just created.

Step 6

Repeat the connection process on all computers to which you would like access. Each computer will appear under My Computers in Chrome Remote Desktop as it is added.

Select a computer to access
Select a computer to access.

Click the X icon to the right of each computer’s name to remove it from Chrome Remote Desktop. Clicking the Pencil icon allows you to rename your computers. Any changes will be reflected within a few seconds in Chrome Remote Desktop on all of your machines.

Step 7

To connect, click the name of the computer you will be accessing. Again, the desktop of the remote computer will appear in the browser tab of the local computer. Click Stop Sharing or Disconnect from either computer to end the session.

Chrome will notify you when the session ends
Chrome will notify you when the session ends.

Tip: Chromebooks can only access other computers. You can’t use Chrome Remote Desktop to access a Chromebook, but a Chromebook makes a great terminal for a Mac or PC.

Conclusion

Chrome’s already a pretty great browser, and the tons of extensions and apps available as add-ons just make it better. Chrome Remote Desktop may be one of the best, giving users remote access just about everywhere to other computers running Chrome. Anyone can set up easy-to-use screen sharing and get help with technical problems from friends.

If you have any trouble using Chrome remote desktop, be sure to let us know in the comments and we'd be glad to help you out.

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