How to use your device from anyplace
These programs allow you to securely connect to a computer from another device once they’ve been installed. You’ll be able to access your screen from anywhere wholly, and it’ll feel almost as if you’re sitting at the real thing. To understand the ins and outs of remote desktop programs a decade ago, you would have required a computer science degree. You can now handle these resources with only a few clicks or taps, as we’ll show you.
Remote computer control tools from Apple and Microsoft
Both Apple and Microsoft provide remote desktop software. These choices, however, should not always be your first choice, depending on what you want to do. Apple, for example, offers a full-featured Remote Desktop package for $79.99, but it’s mainly targeted at IT professionals and network managers. If you’re a home user connecting to a Mac from another, go for the more basic Screen Sharing option instead—it’ll save you money.
To enable it, go to System Preferences, then Sharing, and turn on the Screen Sharing option. If you’ve done that, you can use any macOS computer that’s signed into the same iCloud account to access your original Mac. Open Finder and go to the sidebar’s Shared portion. In this section, locate your home computer, click it, and select Share Screen.
Though Screen Sharing is nice for Mac devices, it makes accessing your Apple computer from a different operating system more complex. Although you can connect to macOS from Windows and other devices using this approach, it will necessitate some advanced network configuration—and isn’t worth the effort. Consider instead using a third-party remote desktop app. We’ll get to them later.
Microsoft’s Remote Desktop tool is available for both Windows and macOS. Still, there’s a catch: you can only connect to a Windows computer running the Professional or Enterprise edition of Windows. Many home users would be excluded since they are typically used on office devices rather than personal ones. Of course, if you have one of these more expensive Windows versions, you can configure access using the Remote Desktop Connection software. Otherwise, we suggest using a third-party service.
Third-party applications: TeamViewer and Google Chrome
Though Apple and Microsoft sell expensive remote-access software aimed at IT pros, anyone can use the free remote-access feature built into Chrome. You log in with your Google account, and the tool uses the same syncing technology that keeps your passwords and login details synced across all of your devices in Chrome. Google’s remote tool is available as a browser extension, an Android app, and even an iOS and iPadOS app.
It just takes a few clicks or taps to connect to a device. You want to connect remotely on the device, open the web app, and press Remote Access in the top right corner of the first screen. This will take you to a page titled “Remote Access Setup.” Switch on your screen, then give it a name and a PIN (you’ll need it to log in).
Next, go to the interface you’ll be using to connect to your original machine. If you open the web app from a different computer, your original machine will appear under the My Computers section. You’ll be up and running in no time if you click on it and enter the PIN you set earlier. You’ll see your original computer’s desktop screen and be able to communicate with it using the remote mouse and keyboard once the remote machine has opened a remote access window. You’ll also see options for opening a new window, adjusting the desktop’s size, and sending a Print Screen command to copy the current screen. The icon at the very top left of the remote access window can access these options: press it to open a drop-down menu.
If you’re using a phone or tablet, you’ll follow the same steps to get back into your original computer. You’ll see a list of computers where remote access has been allowed when you open the Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android or iOS. To bind, tap on either of them and enter the PIN. To reach mouse and keyboard controls, drag down from the top of the screen.
TeamViewer is another free and simple alternative, but business use requires a paid license. To begin, download the app to the device you’ll be connecting to. Then open it and select the option marked Installation to gain remote access to this device (the other option is for accessing the computer while somebody else is using it). TeamViewer can walk you through the process of giving your machine a name and a password so that it can be accessed without being logged in. Your linked computers are connected through a TeamViewer account, free to create, and allows you to see your devices from wherever you sign in.
Then, on the devices on which you want to attach, install TeamViewer. Instead of setting up unattended entry, you’ll want to connect this time. The original machine should appear as soon as you sign in with the credentials you just developed. You can connect by using the password you created earlier. All of the controls you’ll need are located at the top of the link window, including options for moving files between computers and adjusting the screen resolution and quality. Since you’re live-streaming your desktop, lowering the quality a little could make the experience go more smoothly.
Services for syncing files
You can choose a much simpler configuration if you only need access to your files rather than the entire machine. Several programs will happily sit on your main machine and upload and save your important files to the cloud, as well as to any other laptop.
OneDrive, a feature of Windows, is now available for macOS, Android, and iOS. OneDrive provides 5GB of free storage for your files at first, but you can upgrade to more by paying extra. The cheapest upgrade level is $1.99 a month for 50GB of storage, with prices will as you go.
Apple integrates iCloud into macOS and iOS and provides a simple client for Windows users (at the moment, no Android app is available). Users get 5GB of storage for free, with 50GB of data starting at $0.99 a month. You can now use iCloud to sync and back up any files you like, thanks to recent updates.
Dropbox foresaw the promise of file syncing well before Apple or Microsoft did, and it now has client applications for both powerful desktop and mobile platforms. However, you only get 2GB of free storage. If you require more than that, you will have to pay $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.
Finally, Google Drive is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS devices. It’s mostly a cloud-based document editing tool, but it’s also a fully functional file-syncing service. You’ll get 15GB of cloud storage for free (spread across all of your Google products), with upgrades starting at $1.99 a month for 100GB.
All of these services operate in the same way: You download them to your computers, phones, and tablets and then choose which files you want to sync to the cloud. Make updates on your computers to keep the online versions of those files up to date. You can access your files from any web browser window even if you haven’t installed the apps on your computer.