Chrome Remote Desktop helps access remote computer

If you finished buying and configuring a computer for parents or other relatives, chances are they could soon start calling requiring your assistance. They will ask that you immediately head over to their place to assist them, or at least, walk them through a problem. Both of these options will take time and effort.

Google offers an easy solution to this problem in the form of its Chrome Remote app, provided both you and your perplexed relative use the Chrome browser, or own a Chromebook. Downloading and installing the app allows you to gain temporary control of the relative’s computer, to either fix the issue or show them what to do. The app, available for PCs, Macs, Linux systems, and Chromebooks, is also available separately for iOS and Android.

Once you have it installed on both computers and run the app, you are presented with three options.

‘Share this computer for another user to see and control’, has a very visible green button labeled ‘Share’.

‘See and control a shared computer’, is accompanied by a slightly less obvious button labeled ‘Access’.

‘Access your own computer from anywhere’, which is accompanied by a button labeled ‘Get started’.

If you are helping out a relative, the first two options are the choice. So, get on the phone and tell them to press the big green ‘Share’ button. If this is the first time they are using it, they will first be directed to download the Chrome Remote Desktop Host Installer. However, that is a one-time process.)

When they click on the green ’Share’ button, they will get a 12-digit randomly generated numerical code. That is your cue to click on the ‘Access’ button. Have your friend or relative call or text you the code, and type it into the pop-up box on your computer. The other person will get a message asking if they would like to allow [email address] to see and control your computer?” They have the choice to Share or Cancel.

Assuming they select Share, you will now have control of their computer. The other person never loses control, but you can do anything they can from your computer.

As long as the screen is being shared, there will be a small box reminding both you and the other person of that fact. And after a few minutes, there will be a ‘timeout’ warning on the client system, which will have to be clicked on or the connection will be lost. This is a safety feature, although it can become irritating if you are in for a long session.

You can probably work your way around this by clicking on, ‘Access your own computer from anywhere link’. Click on that ‘Get started’ button and you will be asked to enable remote connections and to provide a PIN for security. Once that is done, you can then use Remote Desktop from another computer by simply going to Remote Access, finding the system on the list of My Computers, clicking on it, and entering the PIN. Then, there will be no timeouts. However, there is one major caveat: you must be using the same Google account on both systems.

Chrome Remote Desktop is not the only remote access software out there. Windows has its own Remote Desktop app, and Macs offer a Screen Sharing feature, but Chrome Remote Desktop makes it simple for people to share screens cross-platform with very little effort.