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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
Sign into Google. You need to be logged in to initiate or participate in any screen sharing or remote access sessions.
Confirm the Chrome Remote Desktop download and allow it access to your computer.
Find Chrome Remote Desktop in the Chrome App Launcher, and click the icon to open the app in Chrome.
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.
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.
Click Get Started under Remote Assistance.
To make your computer available to another user, click Share. If you’re going to control a shared computer, click Access.
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.
Chrome will display a notification to the sharing computer, letting the user know who has access. Click Stop Sharing to end the session.
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.
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.
Click Get Started under My Computers.
Begin adding your computers by clicking Enable Remote Connections.
Chrome will start downloading the Chrome Remote Desktop Host Installer.
Once the download is complete, open the package installer and follow the instructions on screen.
Create a PIN of at least six digits. The PIN will be required to access your computer from another location.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.