What is Chrome Remote Desktop?
Chrome Remote Desktop is an extension to Google’s Chrome browser that allows full control of a remote computer. The remote session takes place in a browser window, and you see the remote computer’s desktop just as you would if you were sitting in front of it. Almost anything you could do on that machine if you were controlling it using its own keyboard and mouse, you can do remotely through the browser.
Chrome Remote Desktop has turned out to meet our needs even better than LogMeIn did.
Here are some of the features I particularly like:
Chrome Remote Desktop is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Once Chrome Remote Desktop is installed on a computer, that PC can be remotely controlled even if the Chrome browser is not running.
You can control multiple computers at one time simply by conducting each remote session in a separate browser window.
There’s no timeout on your remote session. As long as your remote desktop browser tab remains open, the connection to the remote computer is maintained.
Response to mouse movements and keyboard clicks seems quicker and more seamless than with LogMeIn.
You can copy and paste between computers just as you would on a single computer.
Although each computer in your remote desktop network must have its own unique PIN in order to access it remotely, you can choose to eliminate the requirement for typing in the PIN.
Installing Chrome Remote Desktop
The first thing you’ll need to use Chrome Remote Desktop is a Google account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for a Google account here.
NOTE: Chrome Remote Desktop must be set up on the same Google account for all the computers you want to remotely control. If you have several accounts, be sure you are logged in on the account you will use for remote operations.
Installing and Using Chrome Remote Desktop
Here’s a step-by-step process for installing Chrome Remote Desktop on each of the computers in your network.
(Note: all screenshots are my own)
1. Get Chrome Remote Desktop from the Google App Store
Go to the Chrome Web Store. In the Search box, type in “Chrome Remote Desktop,” then hit Enter.
Click on the +Free button for Chrome Remote Desktop.
In the “Confirm New App” window that appears, click Add. Expect the install app to spend some time “Checking” before opening your Apps tab.
When the Apps tab appears, you should see that Chrome Remote Desktop has been added to your list of apps. Click on it.
2. Authorize Chrome Remote Desktop to run
When the Authorize box appears, click on Continue.
You’ll now see a “This app would like to:” page. Click Accept.
3. Now, Let’s Get Started!
On the “Get Started” page, click the “Get Started” button in the “My Computers” block.
The “My Computers” block now requires you to “Enable remote connections.” Click that button.
You should now see that remote connections have been enabled. Click OK.
4. Assign a PIN to Your Computer
Assign a PIN of six or more digits to your computer. Here’s a tip. It took me a couple of tries before I realized that a PIN is entirely numeric! So, enter only numbers.
Next, you’ll be asked to confirm your PIN. Type it in again, and click Confirm.
That’s it! You should now see “Remote connections for this computer have been enabled.” Just click OK, and you are set up for remote sessions.
Now, just follow the same procedure for each of the computers that will be part of your network.
What a Remote Session Looks Like
With Chrome Remote Desktop installed on both your computer and the one you want to control, you start a remote session by opening a new Chrome browser window.
Now, click on the Apps icon at the far left of the page.
When the list of your installed apps appears, click on Chrome Remote Desktop. Now the “My Computers” block shows a list of the computers you can control. Note that any lines that are greyed out represent computers that are not online, and which, of course, you cannot remotely control until they are.
Initiate a Remote Session
Click on one of your remote computers. Then enter the PIN of the computer you want to control.
Note that you have the option to specify that you won’t have to enter a PIN for this computer when you access it from the computer you are using now.
After entering the PIN of the remote computer, click Connect.
You should now be looking at the screen of your remote computer.
Note that the “Stop Sharing” button at the bottom of the remote computer’s screen allows you to break the connection and end the remote session.
Controlling Your Remote Computer
As long as you stay in this browser window, you can control the remote computer just as if you were sitting in front of it.
At the top of the browser window is a dropdown bar that offers some additional useful features:
If you pressed the the Ctrl-Alt-Del key combination, or the PrtScn key during a remote session, those keys would actually be applied on your local computer rather than the remote. if you want them to take effect on the remote machine, you can send them using these menu options.
Also, you can control screen options on the remote computer: