Accessing a remote PC using Google Remote Desktop

How to access a remote computer using Google Remote Desktop.

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You bought your parents/grandparents/other relatives a new computer, set it up and showed them all its nifty new features. 

It won't be long before that dreaded call for support comes in. I can't find the draft of the e-mail I started! They're going to want you to come in as soon as possible to troubleshoot or fix the problem, and both activities will probably take several hours out of your day.

but there is a solution. If both you and your troubled family member use the Chrome browser (or own a Chromebook), you can use the Chrome Remote app to easily gain temporary control of your computer, either to fix the problem or show them what to do. It's available for PC, Mac, Linux systems and Chromebooks; there are also separate apps for iOS y Android .


To take control of a client computer that is using another computer, you must first download the Chrome Remote Desktop application from the Chrome Web Store. Once installed, click on the application. A pop-up window offers you three options:

Chrome Remote Desktop
  • Share this computer for another user to view and control (accompanied by an easy-to-see green button labeled "Share").
  • View and control a shared computer (accompanied by a slightly less obvious button called "Access").
  • Access your own computer from anywhere (accompanied by a button labeled "Start").

If you're helping a less technically inclined friend or relative, these are the first two (listed under the "Remote Assistance" subheading) you'll need. Assuming you were smart enough to install Chrome Remote Desktop on their system before giving it away, log in to the phone and ask them to press the big green "Share" button. (If this is the first time they are using it, they will first be prompted to download the Chrome Remote Desktop Host Installer. However, this is a one-time process.)

Code generated by Chrome Remote Desktop

When they click on the green "Share" button, they will get a randomly generated 12-digit numeric code. That is your cue to click the "Access" button. Ask your friend or family member to call or text you with the code, and type it into the pop-up box. The other person will get a box that asks, "Would you like to allow [email address] to view and control your computer?" They have the option to Share or Cancel.

Assuming they have selected Share, you are now in control of your computer. The other person never loses control, but can do anything they can from your computer, including showing you how to set up Skype or find the email you accidentally deleted.

Chrome Remote Desktop screen sharing

While screen sharing, there will be a small box reminding you and the other person of this fact. And after a few minutes, there will be a "timeout" warning on the client system, which you will have to click or the connection will be lost. This is a safety feature, although it can be irritating if you are in for a long session.

There is a way around that, but it will only work in some cases. Remember "Access your own computer from any link" in the first Remote Desktop window? Click the "Start" button. You will be prompted to enable remote connections and provide a PIN for security. Once this is done, you can use Remote Desktop from another computer by simply accessing Remote Access, finding the system in the My Computers list, clicking on it and entering the PIN. There will then be no waiting times. However, there is one important caveat: you must use the same Google account on both systems.


The mobile versions of Chrome Remote Desktop also work quite well once you've downloaded the appropriate app. Note, however, that you won't be able to see the full screen of the client on your phone; you'll have to scroll around the screen, which can make things a bit difficult.

Admittedly, the interface for Remote Desktop could be better. Google may finally be getting that message, apparently there is a beta version in the works, but for now, the above instructions are the best way to go.

Chrome Remote Desktop is not the only remote access software available. For example, Windows has its own Remote Desktop application, and Macs offer a Screen Sharing feature. There are also a number of other applications out there. However, Chrome Remote Desktop makes it simple for people to share cross-platform screens with very little effort.

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