How to control your computer from your phone | Digital Trends

Your desktop PC or go-to laptop doesn’t have to be out of reach when you’re away from home. Outside of tossing your MacBook or ChromeBook in a sleeve or backpack, there’s an easier way to access these web-connected peripherals when you’re on the move, and all you need is a smartphone!

What we’re getting at is called remote desktop access. This relatively simple technology (letting you interact with a virtualized version of your PC) has been around for a minute, but year over year, it continues to improve. That being said, there are specific tools and steps you’ll need to follow to ensure this mobile mirroring works correctly. Strong Signal Penetration

How to control your computer from your phone | Digital Trends

We’ve got the expertise to teach you how to log into your at-home computer, so let’s take things step by step.

Chrome Remote Desktop is one of the quickest and easiest ways to mirror your desktop to your phone, and it gives you full control, including sound, too.

Despite "Chrome" in the name, the app can, in fact, access anything on your computer as if you were sitting in front of it – file browsers, administrator tools, whatever you want. Google's interface makes it easy to connect to your computers, even on mobile networks. Installing the extension into your desktop's Chrome browser also lets you access it from other laptop or desktop operating systems.

Step 1: Open the Chrome browser (or any Chromium-based browser). Make sure you are logged in to your Google account, then navigate to to the Chrome Remote Desktop page and select Access my computer.

Step 2: Select the blue button with the arrow next to Set up remote access. When it takes you to the Chrome extension page, select Add to chrome and agree to Add extension when the popup appears.

If necessary, select the blue arrow button to download the Remote Desktop app.

Step 3: Choose your system's name and select the blue Next button.

Step 4: Add a pin code that you'll remember and select the blue Next button. You should then see your PC listed under available remote desktops as Online.

Step 5: Grab your smartphone and either install the Chrome Remote Desktop application and open it, or navigate to the Chrome Remote Desktop page.

Step 6: Select the name of your PC that you want to remotely connect to. Then input your pin and select the blue arrow button to continue.

Step 7: You should then have remote control of your PC through your phone. You can now move the mouse around by tapping and dragging on the screen. Taps will equate to left-clicks, and you can hear any sound you have coming through your desktop through your phone as well.

While we like Google's Chrome Remote Desktop app for its ease of use and compatibility with just about any PC thanks to its web app option, it's not the only way to remotely access your PC. Here are some good alternatives worth considering:

In order to use remote desktop applications, your computer must be turned on. In fact, if you’re going to be away from your PC for a long time (more than a day), we’d also recommend disabling any hibernation or sleep modes. If your PC enters into of these incubation states, your remote desktop software may not work correctly.

The alternative to this is something called Wake-on-LAN, which can only be used if your computer is connected to the internet via Ethernet.

Using remote desktop software is extremely convenient, but there are a few drawbacks, with the biggest being the strength of your internet connection. Not only does your home PC need to be connected to the internet, but so does your smartphone or tablet. So if you’re in an area with weak cell reception or spotty public Wi-Fi, you might be up the creek.

Overall security is another big concern. Any device that’s connected to your home computer, or has access to your PC’s IP address, can pose a risk to your personal data. The best way to avoid anything like this happening is to ensure you’re using password-protected networks.

It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to clear the cache of whatever remote desktop apps are installed on your mobile device (if you can do so).

Remote desktop access isn’t just limited to Windows machines. Most of the products we mention in the above ‘alternatives’ section are compatible with Mac and Linux computers.

There’s even a dedicated remote desktop tool for macOS called Apple Remote Desktop. Your mileage will vary with this software though, especially since it’s not free, and some users have reported bugs and other mishaps.

There's more than one way to shut down a Windows PC. You don't always have to use a mouse. You can use your keyboard instead. Plus, keyboard shortcuts are faster, easy to learn, and can even help you bypass certain problems if your mouse isn’t working.

Google Smart Lock is a fancy bit of engineering that works across a variety of Google and Android platforms. When enabled and properly customized, it lets your devices automatically unlock in a variety of scenarios, such as keeping your phone unlocked when it detects you're at home. Better yet, it allows you to store Chrome browser passwords for easy access, along with a few other cool tricks.

Thanks to several rigorous security measures Apple integrates into its computers, Macs are generally considered among the safest systems. However, there’s always an opportunity for malware and malicious threat actors to gain access to your Mac. Relying on the built-in security features protecting your system may be well and good, but it can be useful to manually check whether a virus or malware has infiltrated your system without being detected.

Here’s how to check your Mac for viruses and malware.

How to control your computer from your phone | Digital Trends

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