You need to remotely access another computer to view files, run programs, or troubleshoot a problem. Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection, LogMeIn, and GoToMyPC are some of the tools available for this task—another tool worth trying is TeamViewer. With TeamViewer, you can:
- Remotely control and transfer files on another PC;
- Set up unattended access or require that someone be on the other end;
- Access another computer over a LAN, WAN, or the internet; and
- Connect to PCs running Windows, MacOS, or Linux.
SEE: Remote access policy (Tech Pro Research)
TeamViewer is free for personal use, though if you plan to use it on the job, you'll want to review the paid subscription options, all of which offer a free 15-day trial. You can run TeamViewer from a variety of platforms, including Windows, MacOS, Linux, Chrome OS, iOS, and Android. The Windows version is accessible as both a standard desktop application and a Windows Universal app. If you ever need to connect from a computer that doesn't have the program, you can use the web-based TeamViewer Management Console or even run TeamViewer Portable (zip file) from a USB stick. To use the program, you will need to set up a free account with TeamViewer, which you can do at the Management Console page.
On the host computer or computers that you want to access, you can install the full version of TeamViewer. More easily, though, you or the user can run the TeamViewer Quick Support (.exe file) module, which doesn't require an installation.
Let's say you want to use the standard Windows desktop version of TeamViewer to connect to a computer that has the Quick Support module. On your computer, download and install the TeamViewer_Setup.exe file for the standard desktop application. You can opt for a basic installation, an installation only to access this computer remotely, or a one-time use. If you plan to use the program to access other computers, choose the basic installation. Select the option for the way you plan to use TeamViewer—Company, Personal, or Both. You can also choose to show advanced settings (Figure A).
After the installation, open the program and select the Remote Control panel (Figure B).
On the host computer, ask the person on the other end to download and run the TeamViewerQS.exe file for the TeamViewer Quick Support (.exe file) module. The program displays an ID and a password, which the other person must give you in order to connect. At the Control Remote Computer screen on your computer, enter the ID. Click the Connect button. Enter the password and click Log On (Figure C).
You should be connected. Now you can now browse and control the host computer. You can also access a variety of options from the top toolbar. The Actions tab offers commands to end the remote session, lock or reboot the computer, and send a Ctrl+Alt+Del signal (Figure D).
The View tab gives you the ability to change the size and quality of the window and adjust the screen resolution (Figure E).
The Communicate tab provides options for conference calling, chatting, and video calls (Figure F).
The Files & Extras tab offers tools to print, take a screenshot, record the remote session, and transfer files (Figure G).
The Home tab directs you to a screen with data on the remote connection, a way to leave feedback on the program, and a command to end the session (Figure H).
You can also connect to more than one computer. At the Remote Desktop window, click the Plus tab. Enter the ID and then the password of the second computer you wish to access. You can then switch between the two remote sessions. Disconnect the remote session. Back at the Remote Control window, click Extras and select Options. You can tweak many of the settings for TeamViewer, including those for general options, security, remote control, audio conferencing, and video (Figure I).
- FBI warns companies about hackers increasingly abusing RDP connections (ZDNet)
- Managing remote workers: A business leader's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- 10 mistakes to avoid when troubleshooting IT problems (TechRepublic)
- How to access Microsoft Remote Desktop on your Mac (TechRepublic)
- How to connect remotely with Chrome Remote Desktop (TechRepublic)
- How to prevent problems with remote desktop authentication after recent updates to Windows servers (TechRepublic)
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books—one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.