How to access your PC on your Android smartphone

Seth Barton
22 Dec 2014

Want to access your PC from your Android smartphone or tablet, we show you how

Being able to access a remote PC can be very handy. Whether your in another room in your house or half-way around the world, having instant access to your Windows desktop could be a life saver. For example, you can grab files left on the desktop and email them to yourself, or even open up that powerpoint presentation and make a quick tweak to the figures before saving it again. We've even played games other the remote connection, though it's too laggy for anything but strategy and puzzel titles.

For this guide you'll need an Android device (version 4.0 or newer) and a PC or laptop with the Chrome browser installed - so pretty much anyone can make use of remote desktop.

1. Go to Play Store on your Android device. Tap the search icon in the top-right corner and search for 'remote desktop'. Select and Install Chrome Remote Desktop on your Android device. Or simply browse to Chrome Remote Desktop and install the app to your chosen Android device from the webpage.

2. Open up Chrome and head to Chrome Remote Desktop. Install the Chrome Extension to your Chrome browser by clicking the button 'Free' and agreeing to the terms.

3. The Extension should launch once installed, and you'll need to agree to more terms and conditions. If not then launch it yourself by clicking Settings (the three horizontal bars in the top-left-hand corner of your browser) and then choosing Extensions, click Details on Chrome Remote Desktop. Launch the app from here.

4. Under My Computers click Get Started and the Enable remote Connections. Chrome will then download the Chrome Remote Desktop Host Installer. It should appear as a download at the bottom of your browser. Click this to install it.

5. Once installed you'll need to choose a minimum six-digit PIN to secure your remote connection. Type this in twice, and then again to enable remote connections.

6. At this point Google warns you to check your PCs power settings, as your PC will not be accessible from a remote location if it's not turned on. To adjust these settings in Windows hit Start+X and then choose Power options. Here you'll be able to set your PC not to sleep. Alternatively you can set your PC to Wake-on-LAN, see this Wake-on-LAN guide for Windows 8

7. Launch the app on your Android device and select your PC or laptop from the list provided. Enter the six-digit PIN for that device, you can also select not to have to enter it again (though we'd recommend for security you leave this unchecked).

8. The app will then try and connect to your PC. We had no problems with this process in the many times we tried it, and you should get a reminder at the bottom of your desktop that your desktop is being shared. You can shutdown sharing from here if desired

9. If it will not connect then this is likely down to network settings. Try getting it to work at home first and see if disabling your PC's firewall. Take a look at Google's own Troubleshooting page. A good place to start is by disabling your Firewall and seeing if that helps (hit Start+X, choose Control Panel, search for Firewall), if it does solve the problem then check your firewall permits outbound and inbound UDP traffic and allows traffic on TCP port 443. If it's a work PC you may need to talk to your IT department.

10, Once the desktop is displayed you can navigate around using your touchscreen, the pointer moves to follow your inputs and the screen follows around the pointer automatically. Tap anywhere on the screen to click where the pointer is, tap  with two fingers at once for a right-click. You can also pinch to zoom in and out, and bring up an onscreen keyboard, or go full screen, using the icons in the menu bar on your Android device's screen. Tap the three dots to access settings, here you can disconnect and pres CTRL-ALT-DEL if you need to restart or kill an application.

^ And here's our (massive, dual-display) desktop displayed on an Android smartphone


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