Monday, December 15, 2014

The Twelve Tools of December: Chrome Remote Desktop

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing about Chrome Remote Desktop.

What is it?

"Chrome Remote Desktop allows users to remotely access another computer through Chrome browser or a Chromebook. Computers can be made available on an short-term basis for scenarios such as ad hoc remote support, or on a more long-term basis for remote access to your applications and files" (taken from the app description on the Chrome Web Store).  This is  a free app and can be installed on Android devices as well.  The best thing is that the computer being controlled just needs to be powered on.  Chrome does not need to be running to use the app on the host computer.

Why would I use it?  What does it do?

After installing the communication access piece on your laptop(s) and/or desktop(s) and setting your own private code, you can enable that computer to be accessed remotely.  So, if you have a computer at home that you need to access and control from work (or vice versa), you can launch the Chrome Remote Desktop app and connect to it.  (Personally, I have used this when my kids are at home and need to me enter the computer password for them to play a game.)  This is also helpful if you're on a Chromebook or mobile device and need to access a software program that's installed on a PC or Mac in another location; you can use Chrome Remote Desktop to work on that other machine and access what you need.

Or, if you are doing a presentation and would like to be mobile and walk around the room, you can leave your computer hooked up to the projector and simply use another device to control it remotely.  (While you can use a Chromebook to control other computers, you can't yet control a Chromebook from another device.)  I often use a Chromebook to control my laptop when presenting so that I'm not stuck in front of my laptop during a workshop.

Another way to use Chrome Remote Desktop is for technology support ("Remote Assistance").  This can be very helpful when you're either trying to help someone solve a problem over the phone (or trying to have someone help you remotely).  Screen sharing is started within the app, and it generates a code that is used by the person needing to screen share.  Once the session ends, that "helper" no longer has access to the machine (unless another sharing code is created in a new session).  

Are there similar tools? 

There are software programs available that let you do something similar, like VNC, but they require installation (so they won't work from a Chromebook) can be a bit cumbersome to use.  Other services like and have free trials but require a paid account.

Where can I learn more?

Google has a Chrome Remote Desktop help site with set-up information and basic steps for use.  In addition, there is a Google user group where you can post questions and get responses from other smart folks who use Chrome Remote Desktop.

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