Being able to remotely access your computer means that you’ll always be able to call up important documents when you need them and you’ll never be separated from your files. There are several ways you can control your computer remotely, but the most common is to use programs such as LogMeIn, TeamViewer or GoToMyPC (see Resources). However, if you have a Professional, Business or Ultimate version of Windows (Vista onwards) or Mac OS X Mountain Lion there are in-built options available to make the process simpler.
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Download the free version of LogMeIn and go through the installation process. You have to create an account to use for remote access, which you can do online (see Resources). You'll be prompted to create a “Computer Access Code” during the installation if the you ordinarily use a password to access the computer. After installation, it's ready to go, just make sure the computer you wish to control is connected to the internet and switched on.
Visit the website on any computer and log into your account. Select the “Main Menu” link beside the computer you wish to connect to and enter the “Computer Access Code” you created when prompted. Choose “Remote Control” to take control of the computer, and then click the “Full Screen Mode” button if you want a bigger window.
Try the 30-day trial of GoToMyPC for free. Enter your details to create your account and then download the program. When it's installed, you can visit the webpage and sign in using your account details on any other computer. From your account's home page, click the “Connect” button beside the computer’s name and it will open your desktop. Remember to leave your computer on and connected to the internet, though!
Download TeamViewer and install the program, clicking “Next” and “I Accept” to advance through the process. Open the program when it's completed, then click “Connection” in the top-left of the screen before choosing “Setup unattended access” from the drop-down menu. Name your computer and create a strong password for it before clicking “Next.” Select the radio button beside “I want to create a TeamViewer account."
With TeamViewer, you’ll also have to install the program on the computer you’re using to access, and the program should be left open on the "host" machine. Open the program on the other machine, choose the “Computers and Contacts” tab and right-click the name of the computer you want to control. Select “Remote control (using password)” and enter the password when prompted.
Windows Professional, Business and Pro
Open the “Start” menu on the computer you wish to access remotely, right-click the “Computer” link and select “Properties.” Click “Remote settings” from the menu on the left of the screen to open the “System Properties” pop-up window. Choose the bottom radio button in the “Remote Desktop” section (or the bottom one if you’ll be connecting from an XP or Windows 2000 machine). Click the “Select Users” button and choose which users you want to have remote access. If you’re the administrator, your profile will automatically be added. Click “Add” under the “Remote Desktop Users” option if you want to add more users.
Leave the host machine switched on and connected to the internet. Open the “Start” menu from the other computer, and type “mstsc” (without quotations) into the search box. Run the program (which can also be found in “Accessories” under “Remote Desktop Connection”) and type the IP address (see Resources) of the computer you wish to access into the “Computer” field. Choose “Connect” and enter your user name and password when prompted.
Mac OS X Mountain Lion
Open up “Sharing preferences” on the computer you want to access remotely and check the “Remote Login” box. Select either “All users” to add everybody with a profile on your Mac, or the “Add” button beside “Only these users” to specify who has access. This will switch the indicator to “On,” and underneath the indicator your username and the IP address for the computer will be displayed. Make a note of these. Confirm your changes when you’ve written them down. You’ll have to leave your Mac on and connected to the internet to access it remotely.
Select the “Applications” folder and go into “Utilities” on another machine. Run “Terminal” and type “ssh -1” (without quotations) followed by your username, a space and then your IP address. You’ll be taken to your computer.
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- LogMeIn: Free User Guide (pages 10, 13 and 18)
- GoToMyPC: How it Works
- HowToGeek: Turn on Remote Desktop in Windows 7 or Vista
- Windows: Remote Desktop Connection Frequently Asked Questions
- Windows: Connect to Another Computer Using Remote Desktop Web Connection
- TeamViewer: TeamViewer 8 Manual: Remote Control (pages 8-10)
- TeamViewer: Setup Unattended Access
- Apple: OS X Mountain Lion: Allow a Remote Computer to Access Your Mac