Chrome Remote Desktop lets you connect computers for remote access. Once connected to a remote system, you can view the screen, type, move the mouse, or send a key combination, such as Ctrl-Alt-Del.
Chrome Remote Desktop supports two distinct setups: Always-allowed access or one-time access. The first configuration lets you connect to a system any time. This configuration works well for systems you control that are often (or always) powered on, such as as a desktop (or server). The second setup supports temporary remote access to a system with a one-time code. This option gives you a great way to handle remote support or troubleshooting.
Connections work across platforms. You can control a remote system either with an app (on Android or iOS), or from the Chrome browser (on Chrome OS, Windows, macOS, or Linux). And you can install the Chrome Remote Desktop host software on most systems that run Windows 7 (or more recent), macOS 10.9 (or more current), or modern Linux distributions. A system running any of those operating systems can serve as a host, from which you can share the screen.
Start at remotedesktop.google.com
To configure a connection, go to https://remotedesktop.google.com. Then select either “Remote access” or “Remote support” to set up an always-available connection or a one-time connection, respectively.
Remote Access: Any time
Next, click the blue button to download the Chrome Remote Desktop app. Wait a few moments for the app to open. Then you’ll need to allow the app to install. For example, on a Windows system, select “Yes,” then wait a few more moments before clicking on the “Accept & Install” message that appears. You’ll also need select “Yes” to allow Chrome Remote Desktop to open chromeremotedesktop.msi.
After that, enter a name for your computer, then choose “Next.” This is the name that will appear when you open your Chrome Remote Desktop app. If you have multiple computers configured for remote access, meaningful names can help differentiate systems.
SEE: Remote access policy (Tech Pro Research)
Next, add a PIN. This adds an additional layer of security. Even if your Google account user name and password somehow become known, an attacker also would need the PIN to connect. The PIN needs to be at least 6 digits long.
Finally, choose “Yes” to allow “Native messaging host for remoting host management.”
After you’ve completed the above steps, your system should appear with the name you assigned it, along with a status of “Online.”
You can connect to a system configured for remote access from another desktop Chrome browser or from a Chrome Remote Desktop mobile app.
Remote Support: One-time session
Alternatively, you may configure Chrome Remote Desktop for single-use access, which works well for remote support.
If you haven’t yet installed the Chrome Remote Desktop app, the steps in the setup process are similar to those above: Click the button to download the app, install it, allow it to run, accept the terms and install, then allow the download to open and to make changes.
When you request support, you’ll then select the “Generate Code” button. This creates a 12-digit code to share with the person you want to allow to access your system remotely.
If you are the person who intends to provide remote support, you’ll enter the 12-digit code in the “Give Support” section (on the lower portion of the remotedesktop.google.com/support page) then select “Connect.” You’ll need to use the full Chrome browser on a computer–not the mobile browser or mobile Chrome Remote Desktop apps–to provide remote support (as of August 2018).
Chrome Remote Desktop can be a great way for people to securely access a desktop system. I’ve had clients use it for remote access to desktop apps, as well as remote access to Windows servers. And I’ve used it often to provide remote support.
Have you configured a system for remote access via Chrome Remote Desktop? What has your experience been with this system? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter ( @awolber).