Mobility

Control your desktop PC with Windows Phone 8

Find out how you can use the PC Remote app and server to control your desktop PC from your Windows Phone 8.

There are a lot of reasons why you would want to be able to control a PC from your mobile device -- like if you're running a PowerPoint presentation, giving a demonstration, or simply sitting away from your desk. No matter the reason, there's a wonderful app for the Windows Phone 8 that will allow you to do just this. The app is called PC Remote, and it's easy to install and use.

There are two components to this process:

Features of the software include:

  • Mouse: Left, right clicks, scrolling, zooming, drag-n-drop multi-finger gestures
  • Full keyboard support, including Ctrl, Shift, Alt, Tab, Fn, and other special keys
  • View PC screen from phone; use keyboard to type and zoom
  • Volume control
  • Search YouTube in the app, and tap to play them on PC
  • Control Windows Media Center from phone
  • Support for iTunes, Spotify, Media Player Classic, XMBC, VLC, Netflix, and Hulu
  • PowerPoint remote
  • Power controls: shutdown, logoff, sleep, hibernate, turn on/off monitors, etc.
  • Password protection; encrypted data transfer; domain network support

Here are some features you'll only find in the paid version:

  • Windows 8 gestures, including swipe from edge
  • View and play Zune playlist and song
  • Custom remote
  • Wake up PC
  • Auto-connect shortcut by creating tile at start; Pin each remote to start
  • Copy and paste text from phone to PC
  • Manage favorite apps
  • View files/folder of PC and open them with one click
  • Transfer files to and from PC with one click
  • Multiple monitor support in Remote Desktop

Ready to install and use PC Remote? Let's get to it!

PC Remote Server

The first thing you must do is install PC Remote Server. Download the package from the web site, and run the .msi file. The installation is simple and should end with the PC Remote Server window open (Figure A). Figure A

PC Remote Server running on Windows 7.

The default settings should work just fine. From this window, you can set a password by clicking on the password tab, checking the Enable box, and entering a password. Once you've made that change (or any change), make sure to click Update Server. Minimize this window, and you're ready to install the mobile client.

PC Remote mobile client

Open up the Windows Phone Store app and search for "pc remote" (no quotes). Tap the Free version (you can purchase the paid version later, once you know that the app meets your needs), and then tap Install. When the installation is complete, you'll find the launcher in the app listing on the phone. Slide your home screen to the left, and scroll down until you see PC Remote. Tap that to launch the app.

From the PC Remote main window (Figure B), tap the plus sign [+] to manually add the computer hosting the server. Figure B

PC Remote running on the Verizon-branded HTC Windows Phone 8.
All you need to do here is enter the IP address of the server machine and PC Remote will connect. If you've set a password on the server, you'll add it here as well (Figure C). Figure C

Enter the IP address and the password (if necessary) before you tap Add.
From the PC Remote main window, all you have to do now is tap the computer you want to connect to and your mobile will be able to control the desktop. When connected, you'll see a new window (Figure D) where you can select different actions (such as mouse control, keyboard control, desktop control, power controls, volume, files, etc). Figure D

Scroll to the right to see Featured Apps and then again to see Media Control.

Tap on one of the options to take control. You can tap on the Mouse feature to use your mobile as a track pad. For a full listing of the gestures, tap Settings and then Help (from within the Mouse control window).

If you have the paid version of the app, you can also pin specific features (from specific computers) to your Start Page. Say, for example, you have one computer that you want to quickly be able to control the mouse and another you want to be able to control PowerPoint. You simply log onto those PCs (from PC Remote Pro), navigate to that feature, long-press the feature launcher, and select Pin to Start (Figure E). Figure E

Adding mouse control for JACK-PC to the Start menu.

If you're looking for an amazingly easy tool that allows you to remotely control your PC with your Windows Phone 8, then PC Remote is the tool to try. Install the free version, and see if it isn't everything you need in such an app.

Are there other Windows Phone 8 apps that you use and highly recommend? Please share your experience in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

6 comments
...Struth
...Struth

Hello all,


Is this software able to log into computers over routable ip addresses? If not I will use teamviewer  as I need to login to servers over networks for supporting my clients. I am aware that NAT will need to be configured to achieve this functionality


- JH 

JCitizen
JCitizen

"secure" remote logins. I wonder just how secure this is - I get attacked all the time on RDP, but fortunately I use LogMeIn, and it blocks it most of the time. I'm also glad for the client, because I don't want them getting compromised either.

ChrisHyche@AlabamaOne.Org
ChrisHyche@AlabamaOne.Org

I would much prefer a piece of software the would let me control my WP8 from my PC. Used to use that all the time with my WinMo6.5 (and earlier) phones. Sorely miss the capability on WP8.

bc3tech
bc3tech

I would much rather use something that doesn't require its own server software... ConnectMe is just that and works GREAT. Uses the already-there RDP method of connecting to your Windows box.

...Struth
...Struth

@JCitizen  use an obscure port & a password longer then 16 characters, if you notice adverse login attempts just edit the port or even better set up a firewall rule to drop multiple attempts from the same IP.


these steps are simple and have served me well with hosts Iv'e run for 10 years in my virtual cloud : )

- JH

bc3tech
bc3tech

I agree this would be useful - especially for developers. a window that simply mirrors what's going on on the device would be awesome so I don't have to keep picking it up to test & whatnot.

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