One of the things that I hate the most is when I am working on a document for work at home and I forget to put it Dropbox. Then I go to work and realize that I don’t have the document I’d worked half the night on, and now I cannot get the document that I need because it is on my home computer. I am not sure if this happens to you or not, but man, this just frustrates me to no end.
I know there are many ways for me to not forget my document on my home computer, but I stumbled upon something a couple of weeks ago and I had no idea it even existed. This is called the Chrome Remote Desktop, and yes, it is part of Google Chrome (well, with the addition of a small extension). I thought to myself, “Google made a remote desktop app and how did I not know about this?” I just had to try it out to see it for myself.
If you are curious like me, one of the first things you need to do is to head over to the Chrome Web Store and get this free extension. Yes, you do need to be running the Chrome web browser if you are going to take advantage of this remote desktop app. So, if you don’t have it, go and download Chrome first, then head over to the web store.
Once you download and install the extension, you now need to set it up. You will find two options that you can choose from. One, you can setup something called Remote Assistance, which we will get into later. For the remote desktop feature, you are going to want to look under the “My Computers” heading and click on “Enable remote connections”. This allows you to be able to access your home computer from somewhere else.
You will then be asked to set up a pin, which will be crucial for when you want to later access your computer. You will then be lead through a series of questions asking you to allow your computer to be remotely accessed. Once this is done, your computer is now set up and ready to be remoted in to.
Remoting Into a Computer
Now, when you want to access your home computer from work, all you have to do is, first, make sure your home computer is on so that you can access it. Then you are going to want to download the Remote Desktop app on your work computer. The good thing is, if you have Chrome sync enabled on both computers, the extension should already be installed at work when you get there (or vise versa). You will then be asked to enter in your pin code so that you can access your home computer. Once you do this, you will now be able to access your home computer on your Chrome web browser. Your files are all ready to be accessed, moved to Dropbox, or whatever else you need to do. And if you want to start downloading a movie to watch tonight, hey, you could start it remotely, too. Remote desktop might sound geeky, but it can come downright handy for almost anyone sometime or other.
Another feature of this app is called Remote Assistance, where you can share your screen with someone else. This feature comes in handy if you want someone to be able to walk you through something on your computer, but they are somewhere else. Again, both of you need to have the Remote Desktop app downloaded and the one who wants to share their screen will start the process and they will get an access code to share with the person who they are trying to share their screen with. Once they put in the code, they can now see the other person’s screen and talk them through what they need to do.
After testing this out on my home and work computer, I found that it worked pretty good. I have tried out my fair share of VNC clients and this works probably just as good as most others. The main thing is, is that you are going to want to make sure you have a pretty decent internet connection otherwise there will be some lag. I was able to access my home computer without a problem, and I could run apps from my work computer that were on my home computer. As with any VNC client, you are going to be limited in that, you won’t be able to access your home computer and run it as if you were on it. It’ll feel slower, but when you really need to get something done remotely, the great thing is that you can!
What’s really intriguing about this app is that it is free, whereas most other VNC clients are at least $20 or more, depending on what you get. It is currently in beta, and it has been for a while now, so I am not sure once it comes out of it, if there will actually be a price on it. Knowing Google, though, it’ll likely be free in the end. Another great thing is that it only requires Google Chrome, which means you could remote into your home or office computer from a Chromebook if you use one for mobile work.
Overall, I have to say I was impressed with the remote desktop app and really liked using it. Although I don’t use a VNC app that much, this does come in handy when I need to be able to access my home computer. What is nice is that since it is running through Chrome, you can really be on any computer that has a Chrome browser and you can access your home computer. I also think that the Remote Assistance feature could definitely come in handy for businesses who could utilize a feature like that, or for the rest of us that sometimes need to help out less technical family and friends. And best of all, it is free, and the way that Google works, they usually keep things like this free.
So, what are you waiting for? Go and check this app out and try it for yourself. It will make forgetting documents on your home computer a thing of the past, at the very least!