How to remotely control your Windows 10 computer via Google Chrome

Connect to a computer running Chrome Remote Desktop with your notebook, smartphone, or tablet, and control it as if you’re sitting in front of it

How to remotely control your Windows 10 computer via Google Chrome
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Google provides a free and powerful tool, Chrome Remote Desktop, that lets you connect to and control your Windows 10 computer over the internet. (It also works with Windows 7 and Windows 8.) The computer has to be running Chrome, of course, and you also need a Gmail account to sign in to Chrome in order to use this feature.

Why would you want to do this? Let’s say you have a computer at home or in the office that you leave powered on and connected to the internet continuously. Maybe there’s a document stored on it that you need to get, while you’re away from it. If that computer is running Chrome Remote Desktop, then you can connect to it with your notebook, smartphone or tablet, and control it as if you’re sitting in front of it: so you could send the document back to yourself as an email attachment, or upload it to a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Or, what if you want to remotely start a program or process on your home or office computer that will take a while to complete, so that it will be finished when you return home or to the office.

Examples would be if you want to download a very large file to that computer, print a document that has several pages from that computer, or if you want to run a program that will take a long time to process something (like compiling code you’ve written, or rendering out video you have edited).

A third reason could be if you use a computer at home or the office to control and monitor webcams, lights or other devices. By connecting remotely to it with your notebook or mobile device, you can keep tabs on these things when you’re on-the-go.

Here are the steps to set up Chrome Remote Desktop on your Windows 10 home or office computer so that you’ll be able to connect to it over the internet.

1. Log into Chrome with your Gmail account.

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2. Install the Chrome Remote Desktop app from the Chrome Web Store.

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3. Pin the Chrome Remote Desktop app’s icon to the taskbar. This gives you quicker access to the app, and makes it more convenient to turn this tool on or off.

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4. Launch Chrome Remote Desktop. Whenever you launch the app, you are presented with two types of remote connections. Remote Assistance is for when you and another person are both physically at your computers and one person wants to connect to the other’s (perhaps to perform technical support). For this guide, we’re focused on the second choice, which is essentially the “set it and forget it” connection.To set up your computer so that you can leave it unattended waiting to be connected to by another computer or a mobile device of yours over the internet: click: “Enable remote connections.”

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5. Chrome Remote Desktop will forward you to download an installation file: chromeremotedesktophost.msi.

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6. After you install this .msi file, the Chrome Remote Desktop app will direct you to enter at least six numbers of your choosing—this will be the personal identification number (PIN) you’ll need to type in whenever you want to remotely connect to this computer.

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7. Now lets set up the other Windows 10 (or Windows 7 or Windows 8) computer. This computer also needs to be running the latest version of Chrome, and have the Chrome Remote Desktop app installed. And you must be logged into Chrome on this computer with the same Gmail account. Launch the Chrome Remote Desktop app. You’ll see the name of your computer back at home or in the office listed under “My Computers.” Just click its name—the app will ask you to type in the six-digit PIN, and then it will make the connection between your notebook and home/office computer.

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8. The Windows 10 desktop of your remote computer appears in the window of the Chrome Remote Desktop app. This window can be resized by dragging on its borders. It can also be maximized to full screen. If both computers have fast, reliable internet connections, the experience can feel almost like you’re sitting in front of your computer back at home or the office—you can even hear sound coming from your remote computer.

You can input text, numbers, and other characters into an application on your remote computer by typing on the keyboard of your notebook. The remote computer doesn’t display its own mouse pointer; the mouse pointer of your notebook interacts directly with your remote computer—just point-and-click at whatever on the Windows 10 desktop of your remote computer.

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9. To execute a Ctrl+Alt+Del key combo, or to press the Print Screen key, on the remote computer, you click buttons that will execute these functions; these are listed under the options menu of the Chrome Remote Desktop app.

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10. To disconnect from your remote computer, click the icon to the right of the options menu.

11. Google provides free Android and iOS apps that you can use to control your remote computer with your smartphone or tablet. They let you use your phone’s or tablet’s virtual keyboard to type on your remote computer.

By default, these mobile apps show the mouse pointer that’s actually on your remote computer’s Windows 10 desktop. You control it by swiping the touchscreen of your mobile device. This remote pointer can be turned off; doing this then enables you to control your remote computer by tapping icons and other elements of the Windows 10 user interface that you would normally click on with a mouse or touchpad button.

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12. When you no longer want your remote computer to be accessible over the internet, launch the Chrome Remote Desktop app on it, find this computer’s name listed under “My Computers,” and click the “Disable remote connections” button by it.

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13. Final tips to keep in mind:

You should adjust the power settings of your remote computer so that it doesn’t go into sleep mode after you’ve left it unattended for a while. Otherwise, you might not be able to connect to it with your notebook or mobile device if it has gone to sleep.

Under Windows 10, you can turn off sleep mode under the Settings app. Click “System” and then “Power & sleep.” Alternately (and under Windows 7), you can access this under the Control Panel. Click “System and Security,” then, under “Power Options,” click “Change when the computer sleeps.”

It’s best to not leave your host computer’s connection to the internet exposed when you’re not needing to access it remotely. As a general rule, only turn on remote desktop access to a computer for a certain period of time when you (or trusted people you know) need to connect to it over the internet. Turn this feature off when you don’t absolutely need it.

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This story, "How to remotely control your Windows 10 computer via Google Chrome" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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