Chrome Remote Desktop
A quick review on Google's remote desktop app. Here is what you should know about Chrome Remote Desktop. Its Strengths and weaknesses plus how to use it.
It wasn’t much time ago when gaining remote access of another computer required all sorts of complicated software and technical knowledge. During the years Remote Desktop connection has improved rapidly and made much progress. Remote Desktop can be used for a variety of purposes such as help and support, accessing your own data from someplace else, in both personal and business levels. There are a variety of free and paid tools and services that make Remote Desktop conveniently available. One can argue that today, Chrome Remote Desktop is by far the easiest and most accessible free tool that has been developed for this purpose so far. We’re going to find out if that’s the case. We will start by introduction and usage instructions, then we’ll examine the software from different standpoints.
How to Use Chrome Remote Desktop
Chrome Remote Desktop: Setup
You can easily start with opening up Chrome your computer. If you're using a Windows, Mac, or Linux system that doesn't already have it, download and install Chrome first. Within Chrome, go to Google's Chrome Remote Desktop web app which is on this address: https://remotedesktop.google.com/access/. Then, click the circular blue arrow icon inside the box labeled "Set up remote access." (If you are seeing a blue button labeled "Turn On" instead of an arrow, it means you're one step ahead! Skip the next paragraph and continue the process.)
Next, you'll have to download the Chrome Remote Desktop extension. Click the blue button that says "Add to Chrome" on the page that appears and then confirm. Now, go back to the original tab, and you'll find a prompt waiting for you to choose a name for your computer.
After giving your computer just any name that you will recognize, in the next step you'll be asked to create a PIN at least six digits long. You'll need that PIN when connecting to the computer in addition to being signed into your Google account in order to access the computer remotely.
Afterwards your operating system may pop up a warning asking if you want to allow the app access to initiate a remote connection. After confirming that, you’ll see your computer is online and waiting in the same page. Note that some versions of macOS may also require you to grant a few permissions to Chrome Remote Desktop in System Preferences. The computer will then be available for remote connection anytime it's powered on and Chrome is running.
Connecting to your own computer
All you've gotta do to access your desktop from another computer is to go to the same Remote Desktop website within the Chrome browser. You'll need to be signed into Chrome with the same Google account as the host system, but you won't need any apps or extensions installed in order to connect. You can just click on your computer's name to start the connection.
For mobile access, you can download the Chrome Remote Desktop app for iOS or Android. With your phone signed into the same Google account you used on your computer, the app will automatically show your computer and allow you to connect to it just by entering your PIN.
Connecting to somebody else’s desktop
Using Chrome Remote Desktop to access someone else's computer is just slightly different. You'll need to provide these instructions to the person who is behind the host computer in order to prepare it for the connection:
Go to the "Remote Support" section of the web app on the computer you want to be accessed remotely. If the Chrome Remote Desktop extension is already installed on the computer, then you'll just have to click on "Generate Code" within the "Get Support" box. (If it’s not installed, in the same area click on circular blue arrow instead. Then choose "Add to Chrome" in the appearing box and confirm in order to install the extension first.)
Once you generated your code, share that code with the person to whom you want to give access over the system. Note that the code you receive from the site, is a one-time access code that'll remain valid for only five minutes. So you should transfer the code to the other person at the client computer within this time.
The user who wants to gain access to the computer should simply go to remotedesktop.google.com/support within Chrome in any other device. Enter the received access code in the "Give Support" box and then click on "Connect". The host computer attendant will have to manually approve the connection and then the remote access will be provided for the client.
Chrome Remote Desktop: Features and utilities
After the connection is established you'll be in, and you can move around the host's screen. A panel at the side of the screen provides for adjusting options and sending complex commands such as Ctrl-Alt-Del or Print Screen. Although Chrome Remote Desktop doesn’t let you transfer files between devices, but it provides for a set of basic features that are used very often in remote desktop connections.
For instance, as long as both devices have a physical keyboard, you can reconfigure key mappings. Also you can synchronize the clipboards between your current computer and the host computer, so that for example you can copy and paste text between the two.
In mobile remote access on the other hand, you'll be able to move around on your desktop using your fingers, scroll by sliding in any direction or zoom by pinching. In the Android app, you can see a control bar by swiping downward from the top of the screen. It lets you switch into a trackpad mode and keyboard mode. The former allows you to left-click by tapping with a single finger or right-click by tapping with two. And the latter lets you pull up your device's on-screen keyboard and enter text. In iOS, you can access the same options by clicking on the menu button in the lower-right corner of the screen.
In both desktop and mobile app, you’ll be able to view every available remote device that's been connected, as long as all of them are signed into the same Google account.
As we mentioned before, connecting to your computer requires being signed into the same Google account and providing the assigned PIN.
Also for "Remote Support" the app generates a one-time access code which expires after five minutes or the first connection. In addition, users are required to confirm that they still want to share their screen every 30 minutes.
Furthermore, according to Google all Remote Desktop sessions are encrypted for extra protection.
Chrome Remote Desktop is entirely free to use, and there aren't any types of premium content. You’ll just have to sign into your Google account in order to get your remote access.
If you click on “Help” in the desktop or mobile app, you'll access the Help Center which offers simple guides for different steps of using the service.
Also searching in the Help Community for similar problems or posting your own question will probably help you if you’re still having trouble. Although there’s no way to contact Google directly for one-on-one support about Chrome Remote Desktop, but most community posts get a few helpful replies. You can send feedback about the Help Center itself too.
If you ever wanted to disable Chrome Remote Desktop, just go to its main address: remotedesktop.google.com/access, or click the Chrome Remote Desktop icon to the right of the address bar. Then you can click the trash can icon next to your computer's name to remove it from the app. You can also simply uninstall the app altogether by right-clicking on its icon and selecting "Remove from Chrome."
Competition and comparison
Free cost and convenience are the main two advantages of Chrome Remote Desktop over comparable alternatives. You can both share your desktop and access another's just in a few seconds through Chrome Remote Desktop. And you’re able to use it on a wide range of devices with your existing Google account. Nevertheless, it’s missing a few features that paid solutions make available. Features like drag-and-drop file transfer between the two ends or print documents stored on the host computer. Also paid applications generally provide 24/7 support to troubleshoot and resolve issues.
Overall, Chrome Remote Desktop is a simple and accessible option, which is free and fast. It works well on Mac, Windows, and Linux. The mobile app despite having less functionality, but it's is more or less a decent tool for accessing your desktop. It also offers some of the baseline features but it’s missing several features that may be critical in a variety of business contexts. For example, features such as drag-and-drop file transfers, remote printing, and live chat between devices make the main differences of paid applications. In addition, the lack of access to live support when running into any issues, can be a problem in some situations. So you should consider your use case, especially if you're looking for a remote connection platform for business purposes.